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This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023

 

The 'Wooden' Construction

02.4.5

The final argument for sequentiality we will consider is the 'wooden' nature of the construction of the sequence.  2 Peter presents pairs of qualities.  Groups of qualities are not presented, only pairs.  This style of presentation keeps the reader's focus at each step on only one new concept at a time.  For each of the pairs of virtues, the first virtue presented (in the dative case) was the last virtue presented (in the accusative) in the previous pair.  This pattern of presentation is also reflected in the definite articles, which also carry cases.

 

The format noted above repeats throughout the entire sequence.  The virtues themselves repeat their format rigidly.  The definite articles repeat their format rigidly.  The cases of the terms repeat their forms rigidly.  εν repeats it’s format rigidly.  δε repeats it’s format rigidly.

 

The steps clearly repeat in a step-wise fashion.  What was the second term in the prior pair becomes the first term in the next pair.  The term that was added in the prior step becomes the means or location for adding the new term in the next step.  For example:  with Faith assumed, Virtue is to be added to Faith.  In the next step, with Virtue present in the subject's life, Knowledge is next to be added to Virtue, and so forth.  This pattern repeats throughout the sequence without variance.

 

This exact repetition of form from one step to the next is the reason that some commentators describe the sequence as 'wooden'.  It is so linguistically rigid and formulaic that absolutely no flexibility is present within the sequence.  Faith is assumed in the Christian reader, and then one quality after another is added until the whole sequence is complete.  The sequence is repetitive.  The sequence is reiterative.  The sequence is recapitulatory.  The sequence is pleonastic.  The sequence is redundant.  It may be that Peter was writing with a variety of semi-Greek-literate audiences in mind.  If this is the case, he seems to have written this passage in as clear and unmistakable a fashion as possible.  The author's intention that this be read as a sequence is excruciatingly clear.