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Harvard Divinity School

MH ENOITO in the Diatribe and Paul


Author(s): Abraham J. Malherbe
Source: The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 73, No. 1/2, Dedicated to the Centennial of
the Society of Biblical Literature (Jan. - Apr., 1980), pp. 231-240
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Harvard Divinity School
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MH TENOITO IN THE DIATRIBE AND PAUL

Abraham J. Malherbe

Yale Divinity School


New Haven, CT 06510

Rudolf Bultmann's dissertation is still the best general descrip-


tion of diatribal style and remains the authority on the subject for
most NT scholars.1 Bultmann draws attention to the dialogical
element in the diatribe in which a speaker or writer makes use of
an imaginary interlocutor who asks questions or raises objections
to the arguments or affirmations that are made.2 These responses
are frequently stupid and are then summarily rejected by the
speaker or writer in a number of ways, for example by ov8atawS
("by no means"),3 ov travrtow ("not at all"),4 ov0 Au Ala ("indeed
not"),5 or minime ("by no means").6 The limited purpose of this
paper is to examine the way in which ,xi yevoL-ro ("by no means")
is widely used in the diatribal literature, usually thought to be
represented in Greek by the Dissertations of Epictetus, certain
Moralia of Plutarch, various works of Philo, and by Bion, Teles,
Musonius, Dio Chrysostom, Lucian, and Maximus of Tyre.7 In
fact, however, this particular rejection, as it appears as a response

IRudolf Bultmann, Der Stil der paulinischen Predigt und die kynisch-stoische Diatribe
(FRLANT 13; G6ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1910).
2For a more extensive treatment, see Stanley K. Stowers, "A Critical Reassess-
ment of Paul and the Diatribe: The Dialogical Element in Paul's Letter to the
Romans" (Ph.D. Diss., Yale University, 1979).
3Dio Chrysostom 23.6; 26.6, Epictetus 1.6.13; 11.17.22. The edition of Epictetus
used is that of H. Schenkl, Epictetus: Dissertationes ab Arriano digestae (editio maior;
Leipzig: Teubner, 1916). The translations are indebted to W.A. Oldfather, Epictetus:
The Discourses as Reported by Arrian (LCL; 2 vols.; Cambridge: Harvard, 1925).
4Epictetus 4.8.2
SDio Chrysostom 14.14; Maximus of Tyre 6.1d.
6 Seneca Epp. 36.4; 60.3.
7Stil, 12 n. 1, 33 n. 4. See Stowers ("Critical Reassessment," 75-122) for a
discussion of the sources for the diatribe.

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232 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW

in a dialogue without being part of a larger sentence, is uniq


Epictetus and Paul. 8 Bultmann's interpretation of the diatri
heavily dependent on Epictetus despite the latter's peculiar d
opment of the style, and the generalization about the use of
yevoLro in the diatribe is made on the basis of Epictetus.9 B
mann is, furthermore, not as clear on the form of the reject
one might wish.10 There may therefore be merit in subjectin
way in which A-qt yevoLro is used by Epictetus and Paul to
examination, especially since Bultmann draws conclusions
Paul's manner of argumentation from Paul's rejection of his i
locutor's objections. Attention will be given to the contex
which the rejection is used, with special interest in the positi
/.L71 yvoLTo in the argument, the introduction of the interlo
objection, the objection itself, the statement that follow
yevoLro, and the latter's relation to the succeeding argument.
1. As to its position, ,/x1 yevoro in Epictetus frequently st
at the beginning of a new section of an argument (e.g., 1
29.9), but much more frequently than in Paul does it appear a
end of either a section of an argument or an entire diatr
strengthen the argument or a particular affirmation (e.g., 1
2.35; 5.10; 8.15; 3.1.44). In Paul it generally begins a new stag
an argument (Rom 3:4, 6; 6:2, 15; 7:7, 13; 11:1, 11; 1 Cor
although it does appear once (Rom 3:31) at the end to streng
an affirmation. For Paul it has primarily become a device by
he emphatically denies false conclusions that could be (or we
drawn from his theology, the correction of which he then pr
to set forth.
2. In a general description of the interlocutor in the p
diatribe, Bultmann states that the words of the imaginary opp
as a rule are introduced by such short formulas as rcn-r
says") and &ah' ipovor-L ("but they will say"), although in liv

8In Epictetus, it is used in this manner in 1.1.13; 2.35; 5.10; 8.15; 9.32;
11.23; 12.10; 19.7; 26.6; 28.19, 24; 29.9; 2.8.2, 26; 23.23; 3.1.42, 44; 7.4; 23.
4.7.26; 8.26; 11.33, 36. In Paul it appears in Rom 3:4, 6, 31; 6:2, 15; 7:7,13
11:1, 11; 1 Cor 6:15; Gal 2:17; 3:21. Gal 6:14 and Luke 20.16 are not diatri
will be left out of consideration. It does not appear in the representatives o
diatribe listed above.
9Wilhelm Capelle (Epiktet, Teles und Musonius [Bibliothek der alten Welt; Zurich:
Artemis, 1948] 67-68) and Stowers ("Critical Reassessment," 40-46, 82-90)
discuss Epictetus' peculiar form of the diatribe.
10 See Bultmann, Stil, 11 on the pagan diatribe, Stil, 66-68 on Paul.

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ABRAHAM J. MALHERBE 233

discourse there may be no introduction at all.11 He points out tha


Paul also introduces objections with such statements as a&X' ep
rTi ("but someone will say," 1 Cor 15:35), epels oOv ("you w
then say," Rom 9:19, 11:19), and the characteristic qr,ao (2 C
10:10), which show that Paul knew the diatribal mode of
expression.12 Mostly, however, the objection is interjected as
question without any introductory formula. Bultmann goes on t
claim that Paul did not completely take over the dialogical mode.
The fiction of the interlocutor does not have for him the same
force it had for the Greeks, and he therefore frequently does not
formulate the objection in the direct words of the opponent, but in
his own words, albeit in the sense of the opponent. For that the
renderings rt oov epov;aev; ("What then shall we say?") and &ohah
X,Eyw ("but I say") are characteristic, a fact which shows that Paul
utilizes the diatribe to develop and present his thought in the form
of statement and counterstatement.
Bultmann's definition of the quotation formulas as intro-
ductory formulas is too narrow and does not allow for a more
comprehensive comparison. The characteristic, short questions
which mark transitions in the argument and draw attention to what
has been said function as introductions to the objections raised by
the interlocutor, and should be included in a comparison of
Epictetus and Paul.13
In Epictetus the false-conclusions rejected by A,ui yEvoLro
are mostly introduced by the interjection rt o3v; ("What then?"
e.g., 1.2.35; 8.14; 12.10; 2.23.23; 3.1.44), and the independent
questions ierEL rl 8OKEu, ("Otherwise, what do you think?";
1.26.6), t 8oKEiTE; ("What do you think?" 2.8.26; 4.8.26), and rT
avrw XE yEL; ("What does he say to him?" 3.1.42). Very frequently
there is no introduction to the false conclusion (e.g., 1.5.10;
11.23), on other occasions ov' ("therefore," e.g., 1.9.32; 19.7;
2.8.2) and rTi po0/AEv ("What shall we say?" 3.7.2) are part of the
sentences containing the objections.
Like Epictetus, Paul uses Ti ov'; but does so only once
(Rom 6:15). rt Epoviev; (Rom 3:5) and Tr oVv EpoviLev; ("What
then shall we say?" Rom 6:1; 7:7; 9:14) are not part of the objec-
tions themselves, while ovv (Rom 3:31; 7:13; 1 Cor 6:15; Gal

"Ibid., 10.
12Ibid., 12. qorial in 2 Cor 10:10 is not diatribal; it introduces an assessment of
Paul by real opponents.
13See Stil, 13-14 on transitions.

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234 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW

3:21), XE'yo ovv ("Am I saying, then," Rom 11:1, 11) and
("then," Gal 2:17) are part of the objections. 'l yacp ("W
then?") is used once (Rom 3:3).
Bultmann's statements should thus be modified, at
with respect to the places where the objections call fort
yvOLrTO. There Epictetus does not introduce the interloc
words with a quotation formula but, like Paul, uses other for
which set up the objections. It is not obvious that in these
the interlocutor in Epictetus has more force than it does in
and, as his use of t' iEpovuEv (3.7.2) indicates, he too
formulate the objection in his own words. Paul is very much
Epictetus, with the exception that he always has an introduct
the false conclusions. His introductions always contain c
particles or have causal force, thus connecting the false conc
to what precedes. The impression thus gained, that Paul
securely fits the false conclusion into his argument, is only p
offset by the fact that when there are no introduction
Epictetus, the dialogical element is more pronounced than it
Paul, and that it is designed to move the argument forw
whether it in fact succeeds in doing so or not.
3. Bultmann points out that in the pagan diatribe the ob
tion is frequently simply a rhetorical form the speaker uses t
greater clarity and emphasis to his thought.14 On such occas
the objection may not be worth discussing but may be the a
consequence the hearer draws from the speaker's words. In s
cases the objection is introduced by t ov'v; and slapped dow
/17) yevoLro. According to Bultmann, it is this diatribal use o
objection that is found in Paul.15 The objections do not repr
possible alternative views for Paul, but are absurdities. Some
objections expressing real opposing viewpoints do appear
Rom 11:19; 1 Cor 10:19?; 15:35), but almost always the imagin
opponent draws false consequences from Paul's viewpoint and
in the diatribe, his objection is then forcefully rejected with
yvOLlTO.
With respect to those objections which are followed by A7-
yEfvLTo, Bultmann is in general correct. However, while it is true
that Paul in only two (Rom 3:3; Gal 3:21) of the thirteen passages

14Ibid., 10-11.
15Ibid., 67-68.

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ABRAHAM J. MALHERBE 235

under review formulates the objection in the words of the oppo-


nent, the difference from Epictetus should not be overstated. The
majority of the objections in Epictetus do, formally at least,
represent the opponent's view, but, in addition to 3.7.2, he else-
where presents the objection in the first person, e.g., 1.10.7, T
ovv; ey)w kEyo), OTL aTrpaKTov eo-n TO S4ov; LT) yevo'ro ("What
then? Am I saying that he is an idle being? By no means!"-cf.
1.5.10). Furthermore, the objections in Epictetus and Paul are
always in the form of rhetorical questions, which already points to
their absurdity in both writers.
4. Bultmann demonstrates that in the pagan diatribe the
rejection of the objection could take place in different ways.16
Frequently the retort is in the form of a counter-question. A
calmer exposition could also follow, as it especially does in Seneca,
Dio Chrysostom and Plutarch, but frequently the lively tone
continues and the opponent is overwhelmed by a series of ques
tions or exclamations. The opponent may also ask further ques
tions, so that a regular dialogue ensues. Bultmann notes that Paul
seldom answers objections with counter-questions (Rom 9:19-24),
and that only Rom 3:lff, and 4:2 show the beginning of a
dialogue.17 Usually he slaps down the objection with IA7 ye'voLTo
and then he shows the objector his error either in a coherent
statement and establishes his own viewpoint (Rom 6:lff.; 7:7, 13;
9:14; 1 Cor 15:35) or with a series of rhetorical questions or other
rhetorical devices (Rom 9:19ff.; 1 Cor 10:19ff.; 2 Cor 12:16ff.). Th
short suppression of the opposing viewpoint clearly shows fo
Bultmann what is characteristic of Paul's way of thinking. In the
diatribe false consequences are also rejected with 1zi yevoLro, but
its predominance in Paul shows that here one has to do with
something different. Paul reaches his propositions not by intellec
tual means but through experience and intuition. Thus in defend-
ing them he is not so much concerned to confirm them by
intellectual considerations as he is to express the paradox of hi
propositions sharply and to guard against false ethical deductions.
Nevertheless, he does use the form of the diatribe, and it is
significant that most of the examples come from Romans, and tha
all appear in didactic contexts. Bultmann sees, then, on the on

6Ibid., 11.
17Ibid., 67-68.

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236 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW

consistent as Paul. One example of each type of supporting st


ment will illustrate his procedure in this regard.
In one instance, 2.8.26-7, Epictetus quotes Iliad 1.526
substantiate his rejection. In the discussion that precedes,
question considered is whether the philosopher should aff
proud look (64pi). The objection is then raised:
What do you think? (rTi COK?T-E;) A proud look?
By no means (I7Tl ye1voLro)! For (ya,p) the Zeus at Olympia does not affec
a proud look, does he? On the contrary (daXd), his look is steady, as befit
one who is about to say,
No word of mine can be revoked or prove untrue (II. 1.526).
I will show you that I am of such character-faithful, reverent, noble
unperturbed.

Zeus provides the model for Epictetus, and to that extent


quotation determines the theme for what follows, the god
demeanor of the philosopher.
Epictetus also advances what is self-evident to him to supp
his rejection of an objection. In 1.29.1-8, in discussing the Sto
steadfastness, he claims that the Stoic should have no fear in
face of threat. Then, in 9-11 he records an objection:

Do you philosophers, then (oiv), teach us to despise kings?


By no means ( y17 yevoLro)! Which one of us teaches you to dispute
their claim (iav7roeoLdo'aL) to the things over which they have
authority (ieovalav)? Take my paltiy body, take my property, take
my reputation, take those who are about me. If I persuade any to lay
claim (avTiTroLeo'OaL) to these things, let some man truly accuse me.
Yes, but I wish to control your judgments also.
And who has given you this authority (ieovoiav)?

The rhetorical question following the rejection denies that St


dispute the claim of kings to those things over which they h
authority. Laying claim (.'avtLroLeao-Oa)L and authority (4eov
constitute the theme of what follows. The sentence consistin
imperatives and the one following are self-evident to the Stoic
are Epictetus' support for his denial.
In 1.2 Epictetus refers to his own case to strengthen h
rejection of an objection. The subject of the diatribe is the que
of how the philosopher may preserve his own character. Tow
the end of the diatribe reference is made to the greatnes

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ABRAHAM J. MALHERBE 237

7:13, KaT'pya/oCao ("work"), and in vv 15, 17, 18, 20; Rom 9:15
ieEcw ("have mercy"), and in vv 16 and 18; Rom 11:1; ,i"
&TrW'raro ("did not reject") and OVK atrcVaaro ("did not reject")
in v 2 and the corresponding vTrehXefO8qv ("am left") in v 3
KaErkTrov ("have left," RSV: "have kept") in v 4, and \eZuua
("remnant") in v 5; Rom 11:11, 7raparqXo&raL ("make jealous"),
also in v 14; 1 Cor 6:16, 6 KoXXt/C evo? ("he who joins"), also in v
18; Gal 3:22, crvyKXEio ("consign"), also in v 23 (RSV: "kept
under restraint"). The suppression of the opposing viewpoint i
thus not quite as short or abrupt as one might be led to believe by
Bultmann, and we should do well to stress his observation that a
coherent statement follows a YEVyvoLTo in Paul.
Bultmann's brief description of the diatribal use of /a
yevoLro leaves the impression that the exclamation marks the end
of the matter under discussion.20 A closer examination of Epicte-
tus will clarify the matter and enable us to judge the correctness of
the distinction Bultmann draws between Paul and "the Greek
preacher."
Unlike Paul, Epictetus does not always provide some sub-
stantiation for his rejection of the objection raised. This is especial-
ly the case when the form of the dialogue is strictly adhered to
(e.g., 1.1.13; 26.6; 2.8.2; 23.23). But when he does support his
rejections he is quite like Paul. The supporting statements are
affirmations introduced by &aXXa (1.28.24; 3.1.42, 44; 4.8.26-27)
and yacp: (1.8.15; 12.10; cf. 4.8.26) but are also questions similarly
introduced (a&Xa: 1.10.7; ya&p: 2.8.26). He also uses the challen-
ging questions and imperatives characteristic of the diatribe
(1.29.9-10).21 He is further similar to Paul in that his supporting
statements may contain quotations of texts thought to have proba-
tive value (e.g., Homer II. 1.526 in 2.8.26) or be answers that are
self-evidently true (e.g., 1.29.9) or be straightforward contrary
assertions (e.g., 1.9.32). He also refers to himself to support his
argument (1.2.36), and on one occasion, having done so, goes on
to quote Plato Apol. 17C as further confirmation (3.23.25).
Epictetus' support of his rejection may also provide the
theme of the discussion that follows, but in this he is nowhere as

20Stil, 11 n. 4, 33.
21Margarethe Billerbeck, Epiktet: Vom Kynismus (Philosophia Antiqua 34; Leiden:
Brill, 1978) 94.

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238 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW

consistent as Paul. One example of each type of supporting sta


ment will illustrate his procedure in this regard.
In one instance, 2.8.26-7, Epictetus quotes Iliad 1.526
substantiate his rejection. In the discussion that precedes,
question considered is whether the philosopher should affe
proud look (640p). The objection is then raised:
What do you think? (n' 8oKETrE;) A proud look?
By no means (, iE y?voLTo)! For (yacp) the Zeus at Olympia does not affect
a proud look, does he? On the contrary (c&XA), his look is steady, as befits
one who is about to say,
No word of mine can be revoked or prove untrue (1. 1.526).
I will show you that I am of such character-faithful, reverent, noble,
unperturbed.

Zeus provides the model for Epictetus, and to that extent


quotation determines the theme for what follows, the god-
demeanor of the philosopher.
Epictetus also advances what is self-evident to him to supp
his rejection of an objection. In 1.29.1-8, in discussing the Stoi
steadfastness, he claims that the Stoic should have no fear in
face of threat. Then, in 9-11 he records an objection:

Do you philosophers, then (ov>), teach us to despise kings?


By no means (ut yl/votro)! Which one of us teaches you to dispute
their claim (avrTnroteaat) to the things over which they have
authority (efovriav)? Take my paltry body, take my property, take
my reputation, take those who are about me. If I persuade any to lay
claim (avrro?roa0a) to these things, let some man truly accuse me.
Yes, but I wish to control your judgments also.
And who has given you this authority (efovrlav)?

The rhetorical question following the rejection denies that S


dispute the claim of kings to those things over which they
authority. Laying claim (a&v'nroLeia OaL) and authority (ieov
constitute the theme of what follows. The sentence consistin
imperatives and the one following are self-evident to the Stoi
are Epictetus' support for his denial.
In 1.2 Epictetus refers to his own case to strengthen
rejection of an objection. The subject of the diatribe is the qu
of how the philosopher may preserve his own character. Tow
the end of the diatribe reference is made to the greatn

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ABRAHAM J. MALHERBE 239

Socrates.22 But, it is pointed out, not all men share his gifts.
35-36 an objection is introduced and then rejected:

What then? (T' oVv;) Since (U7rEr86) I am without natural talent,


shall I for that reason stop being diligent?
By no means (q17 yevoLro)! Epictetus will not be superior to Socrates;
but if only I am not worse, that is enough for me.

In the few lines that continue to the end of the diatribe the theme
of realizing one's potential is continued.

Some conclusions can now be drawn. Paul's use of g/ yEVOLTO


does not have a counterpart in the pagan diatribe in general but
does in Epictetus. It may therefore be the case that this way of
rejecting an objection or false conclusion is more characteristic of
the type of schoolroom instruction in which Epictetus engaged
than street corner preaching.23 Furthermore, this exclamation is
part of a larger form which is found frequently in Epictetus and
always in Paul. It would therefore appear that Paul had taken one
way in which Ai Ye'voLro was put to use and used it exclusively in
his argumentation. The larger form of which it is part does not
mark the termination of an argument, but rather a transition. It
performs this function more consistently in Paul than in Epictetus.
With one exception it always appears in Paul at the beginning of an
argument, in Epictetus it does so only sometimes. In Paul it is
always made clear grammatically that the objection is a false
conclusion to what he has said, Epictetus does so only on occasion.
Paul and Epictetus both state the objection as a rhetorical question
to show it to be absurd. Paul always provides a reason for his
rejection of the false conclusion, Epictetus does so only some-
times. With one exception, the reason Paul advances introduces
the theme for the argument that immediately follows, in Epictetus
it does so only on occasion. The formal and functional agreements
between Paul and Epictetus are thus more far-reaching than
Bultmann demonstrated. Indeed, one may question, at least so far
as the places where A17 yEivoLTO is used, whether the distinction he

22 See Klaus Diring (Exemplum Socratis [Hermes-Einzelschriften 42; Wiesbaden:


Steiner, 1979] 43-79) for Epictetus' use of Socrates as a model, and in the present
connection, cf. 3.23, 25-26.
23 Stowers ("Critical Reassessment," esp. 263-76) argues for the schoolroom as
the social setting of Epictetus' and other moral philosophers' diatribes.

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240 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW

maintains between "the Greek preacher" and Paul


would not appear that there Paul felt less need t
propositions intellectually than Epictetus did or tha
indebted to experience and intuition than the teacher

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