Andrey Romanov, «Through One Lord Only: Theological Interpretation of the Meaning of 'dia', in 1 Cor 8,6», Vol. 96 (2015) 391-415
The present study attempts to clarify the theological meaning of dia, in 1 Cor 8,6. Traditionally the preposition is understood as an indication of a contrast between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus' role is described as either instrumental or analogous to the role of Jewish Wisdom. The present study questions these interpretations on the basis of the analysis of the structure of the verse. In this author's opinion, dia, here indicates the unique functions of Jesus Christ which make him the co-worker of God the Father in both creation and salvation.
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403 THROUGH ONE LORD ONLY 403
elements of Stoicism and Middle Platonism in one single verse in
the letter which is generally free from philosophical speculations
and demonstrates Paul’s fidelity to the Jewish traditions looks rather
artificial and far-fetched. What, however, challenges this hypothesis
even more is that there are no exact parallels to 1 Cor 8,6 in con-
temporary philosophy. One of the most illustrative Stoic formulas
which uses the prepositions is the passage from Ps-Aristotle’s De
mundo 397b (considered as a Stoic writing): “All things are from
God (evk qeou/) and through God (dia. qeou/) hold together for us” 39.
It is striking enough that here both evk and dia, are present. As men-
tioned above, Sterling does not find in Platonism examples where evk
is used to designate the first (divine) cause. Thus, if one follows
Sterling’s logic, one has to assume that in 1 Cor 8,6 the evk-phrase
is taken from the source (Stoicism) where dia, is used in reference
to God and the dia,-phrase is taken from the other source (Platonism)
in which evk is never used for God. Some other difficulties of Sterling’s
hypothesis will be discussed in section 3 40.
In other words, neither the Jewish Wisdom speculations nor the
use of metaphysical prepositions in contemporary philosophical
doctrines (including Philo’s scheme) can be regarded as the source
for Paul’s description of the cosmological function of Jesus Christ
in 1 Cor 8,6b. Jesus Christ has no parallels in contemporary
thought. The substantiation of his uniqueness through the descrip-
tion of his functions makes him the indispensable participant in the
act of creation and the co-worker of God the Father. And therefore
not just through Jesus Christ did all things come into being from
God but only through him.
See Sterling’s reference to it, “Prepositional Metaphysics”, 223.
There is another famous Stoic formula which is sometimes used to
prove the influence of Stoic cosmological thought on Paul, namely Marcus
Aurelius’ praise of nature in Meditations 4:23: w= fu,sij\ evk sou/ pa,nta, evn soi.
pa,nta, eivj se. pa,nta. Sterling considers this formula as the “closest parallel”
to Rom 11,36 (“Prepositional Metaphysics”, 233). It is not, however, relevant
to the present discussion for the preposition dia, is not present there. In fact
there are many reasons to question any possible correlation between the Em-
peror’s formula and Paul’s words in 1 Cor 8,6; the main reason seems to be
the presence of one Lord in Paul’s outlook.