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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
On Christian Doctrine: Chapter 4

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 4.—How Ambiguities May Be Solved.

8.  And not only these, but also those ambiguities that do not relate either to punctuation or pronunciation, are to be examined in the same way.  For example, that one in the Epistle to the Thessalonians:  Propterea consolati sumus fratres in vobis1852   Now it is doubtful whether fratres [brethren] is in the vocative or accusative case, and it is not contrary to faith to take it either way.  But in the Greek language the two cases are not the same in form; and accordingly, when we look into the original, the case is shown to be vocative.  Now if the translator had chosen to say, propterea consolationem habuimus fratres in vobis, he would have followed the words less literally, but there would have been less doubt about the meaning; or, indeed, if he had added nostri, hardly any one would have doubted that the vocative case was meant when he heard propterea consolati sumus fratres nostri in vobis.  But this is a rather dangerous liberty to take.  It has been taken, however, in that passage to the Corinthians, where the apostle says, “I protest by your p. 559 rejoicing [per vestram gloriam] which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” 1853   For one translator has it, per vestram jurogloriam, the form of adjuration appearing in the Greek without any ambiguity.  It is therefore very rare and very difficult to find any ambiguity in the case of proper words, as far at least as Holy Scripture is concerned, which neither the context, showing the design of the writer, nor a comparison of translations, nor a reference to the original tongue, will suffice to explain.



1 Thess. 3.7.  “Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you” (A.V.).


1 Cor. 15.31.

Next: Chapter 5

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