I'm new here. I searched for a place as this specifically to ask a question of New Testament Greek translation. Thanks in advance for your considered opinions.
My question has to do with a portion of 2 Cor 12:1-4, a text that is usually translated as follows:
"1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body I do not know or out of the body I do not know--God knows. 3 And I know that this man whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-- 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell."
Here is the Greek for verses 2-4
2 oida anqrwpon en Xristw pro etwn dekatessarwn eite en swmati ouk oida, eite ektov tou swmatov ouk oida, o qeov oiden arpagenta ton toiouton ewv tritou ouranou. 3 kai oida ton toiouton anqrwpon eite en swmati eite xwriv tou swmatov ouk oida, o qeov oiden 4 oti hrpagh eiv ton paradeison kai hkousen arrhta rhmata a ouk econ anqrwpw lalhsai.
I am specifically concerned with two lines; lines that are usually understood to mean basically the same thing:
eite en swmati ouk oida, eite ektov tou swmatov ouk oida, o qeov...
eite en swmati eite xwriv tou swmatov ouk oida, o qeov oiden
As you can immediately see, there are two differneces: 1) the first ouk oida is not repeated in the second stanza. 2) ekton "out of" in the first stanza, versus xwrin in the second.
I want to read these differences as significant: in other words, these two stanzas are saying different things.
At this time my question is about reading the extra ouk oida as a significant marker of difference. The second stanza is usually translated, "...whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know, God knows." I accept that translation. Here, there is one experience, and Paul does not know whether it is better understood as in the body or apart from the body.
By contrast, in the first stanza, there is an extra ouk oida: if in the body, I do not know, if out of the body, I do not know.... My question is, could that extra "ouk oida" indicate two separate but sequential experiences? Thus, in the first experience, there is a subjective sensation of being caught up "in the body" but it is rapid and the sensation is subjective only, so the person also has doubts about what is really happening, thus, "I don't know. Same for the second phase: there is a sensation of exiting, of going "out of body," but it is an inner sensation, and there are doubts about what is really happening, thus, "I don't know, God knows."
Hi. Perhaps it is a matter of style. Repetition of "oyk oida" 4 times would make a mechanical speech. In the first sentence ouk oida is repeated two times to emphasize the surprise of Paul, while in the second case appears only once, being implied for the first part of the sentence (eite en somati). It is obvious that in the second sentence ouk oida refers equally to both parts of the sentence (en somati - horis tou somatos). Now both these sentences are identical in all the other terms (horis and ektos are the same) and Paul refers to the same experience, when one is elevated above ordinary perception.
Thanks for your comments. As you may know, you have given the reading of the text that is widely agreed upon in the standard commentaries.
My question, however, is whether an alternate reading is possible. Not probable. But grammatically possible.
Consider an analogy: There is a river valley and a mountain with two checkpoint flags for valley hikers on their way to the peak. Someone from the valley who has climbed the mountain many times is remembering an ascent to the mountain top on a day after the flags had been stolen, and tells about the climb in a flashback, present tense, style: "Whether at checkpoint A, I don't know, whether at checkpoint B, I don't know, walking without checkpoint flags, I made it all the way to the peak." He could be saying he could not tell the difference between checkpoints A and B; but he also could be saying that when he came to place he expected to find check point flag A, he did not know whether he was really there or not; and, same when he came to check point B, he did not know whether he was where the thought he was.
Suspending the question of what Paul was saying, and considering the above analogy on its own, in the English "whether... whether" series, both are meanings are possible. Could you translate that into Greek with an "eite...eite" series and retain two possible meanings? I'm not asking what is probable or most likely. I'm asking whether this alternate meaning is possible.
The problem in your reading is that you try to assign two different experiences to "whether - or", while Paul uses whether - or in order to do precisely the opposite, to describe his experience as independent of having or not a body. Eite - Eite (whether - or) can not support your reading because they denote two alternatives, not a sequence. If it was about a sequence the text would have an eita (then, afterwards) or something similar. Maybe you confuse eite with eita? They are two very different words, despite their common three letters.
Are you trying to understand, or just to impose your views? In the examples that you mention all cases included in the scheme whether - or denote precisely that they are "alternative" (not "the same", not "identical", but alternative), that is, whatever the case, the result is the same : prophecies, knowledge, etc., all shall fail. The same in the second sentence, whether I am sober or not, I don't do it for me but for the cause of God.