Abstract

This study revisits the much-debated ἁρπαγμός (Phil 2:6) and offers first a rebuttal of J. C. O’Neill’s challenge to Roy W. Hoover’s landmark essay on the double-accusative idiom involving the word and then a refinement of Hoover’s understanding. In response to O’Neill, I argue that (a) in failing to mount a challenge to most of the occurrences of ἅρπαγμα in the idiom and to the related cluster of idioms involving ἁρπάζειν and near-synonyms ἕρμαιον, εὕρημα, εὐτύχημα, and κέρδος, O’Neill leaves sufficient evidence at hand for the establishment of the idiom with ἅρπαγμα; and (b) this evidence negatively impacts his challenge of the occurrences with the admitted synonym ἁρπαγμός, a challenge that in any case falters upon closer examination. Hoover is correct that the idiom with ἅρπαγμα/ἁρπαγμός exists, that the two words are interchangeable within it, and that within it they have the meaning “something to seize upon [for advantage’s sake].” Philippians 2:6b may, in fact, be translated, “[Christ] did not consider equality with God something to seize upon.” In refinement of Hoover, however, I challenge his claim—famously seized upon by N. T. Wright—that the idiom implies that the object deemed ἅρπαγμα/ἁρπαγμός “belongs” to the subject in question. I conclude, rather, that the idiom does not speak positively or negatively to the matter of possession—hence the debate over whether Christ possessed “equality with God” cannot be settled by appeal to the phrase.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-3876
Print ISSN
0021-9231
Pages
pp. 175-194
Launched on MUSE
2016-03-24
Open Access
No
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