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What does "Pthora" mean in Greek??
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TOPIC: What does "Pthora" mean in Greek??

What does "Pthora" mean in Greek?? 4 years, 1 month ago #2407

  • jes626
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Hi everyone,

Doing more studying here on ECT vs annihilation, and trying to determine the meaning of the Greek word "phthora". It seems to mean "perishable" or "corruptible" when speaking of mortal bodies in 1 Corinthians 15, verses 42, 50 and 53.

But it is also used when speaking of what the wicked will reap in Galatians 6:8, as well as 2 Peter 2:12.

Now, the traditionalists have always argued that EVERYBODY (whether righteous or wicked) is raised with an imperishable, immortal body.... Yet, if I'm reading 1 Corinthians 15 right, as well as Galatians 6:8, and 2 Peter 2:12, it would seem that IMPERISHABILITY (aphtharsia) is only promised to the righteous. If I'm reading this correctly, it would seem to be a strong case for conditional immortality / annihilation.

However, when I look it up in Strong's it reads as follows, for the definition of phthora....

I.corruption, destruction, perishing

A.that which is subject to corruption, what is perishable

B.in the Christian sense, eternal misery in hell

So, is definition "B" (eternal misery in hell) a case of the Strong's dictionary importing a theological bias into the definition?

I'm trying to learn the definition of phthora is just plain Greek, even without regard to religion. Trying to research its meaning in biology, such as "phytophthora" etc). It seems to mean "destroy" or "kill" in biology.

I've never formally taken any Greek classes, so not as well trained as others here. But if phthora means what I think it might mean, I think it would be a strong case that the imperishable bodies spoken of in 1 Cor 15, are referring ONLY to the righteous, and would thus be a huge argument for annihilation.

Your thoughts on this please?

Thanks in advance!

Re: What does "Pthora" mean in Greek?? 4 years, 1 month ago #2409

  • Singalphile
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jes626 asked:
So, is definition "B" (eternal misery in hell) a case of the Strong's dictionary importing a theological bias into the definition?

Where are you looking that up? I see that definition in Thayer's Greek Lexicon.

Strong's just says, "corruption, destroy, perish. From phtheiro; decay, i.e. Ruin (spontaneous or inflicted, literally or figuratively) -- corruption, destroy, perish."

... at least according to biblehub.

I'm a know-nothing when it comes to Greek, but it has seemed clear that Thayer's Greek Lex. contains as much or more theological commentary than just plain Greek definitions.

I like to look at lsj.translatum.gr/wiki/Main_Page sometimes. As far as I know, it's just a plain ancient Greek dictionary, without regard for religion or theology in particular.

But it's often hard to use and impossible for me to understand.

For example, here's the entry for φθορά (phthora, I think) here:

I'm sure some of the scholarly folks here can shed more light.
"Singalphile" - Name chosen (hastily) to indicate being on a narrow path, pursuing the love of God. Male, upper-30's, USA.

Re: What does "Pthora" mean in Greek?? 4 years, 1 month ago #2413

  • jes626
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Thanks for the reply Singalphile,

I got the definition from blueletterbible.org. I clicked on the tools tab for the passage (2 Peter 2:12) to get the corresponding Greek word. Then I clicked on the Strong's number for that word, and it brought up the lexicon.

Thanks for the link to the regular (non religious) lexicon, as I think it helps to get an unbiased view of what the word actually meant to the average person on the street, without the theological presuppostions.

Re: What does "Pthora" mean in Greek?? 5 months, 1 week ago #5234

  • Irsh Faq
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Google turned up your post while I was doing a little research on the word myself. I see that it is an older post and I might be a little late for the original poster to see my reply, but I figured I would post some info in case he is still around or anyone else is looking into the word.

Angeliki Laiou discusses φθορά – phthora – at some length, but unfortunately most of her discussion is concerned with its meaning in the context of late antique/dark age/medieval Byzantine law – the word had a special meaning in the context of law codes (Medieval Greek legalese), but that will not be the colloquial definition you are after. However, she does touch upon the colloquial meaning, and its meaning in earlier Greek than that of the Byzantine law codes, in a sentence or two before launching into the legalese meaning:

”Laiou” wrote:
The term φθορά is difficult to render into English; its original meaning is corruption, and sometimes this is retained [25].


[Note 25]: As such, it is strongly connected with ideas of pollution, on which cf. below, IV

I’m afraid I don’t have access to Laiou’s Part IV, which she refers to in Note 25 – just the introductory part of her monograph. As I said she is more concerned with specific legal meanings of the term, though. So there may not be further information in IV that is relevant to your question.

Anyway, in the everyday sense, corruption is as good a translation as any (but not in the modern English sense of corruption meaning (political) misdeeds – in corruption’s now slightly old-fashioned English sense that is related to decay, rot, putrefaction=). With a strong connotation of pollution, contamination, etc.

Death/destruction is also a common sense (not surprising that a word with a root meaning of corruption in the sense of a dead rotting thing could also come to stand for death or destruction itself).

Further research:

not for kids:

:pinch: Warning: Spoiler!

Also, here is a Perseus link. It in turn links to a number of instances of the use of the word in Greek texts. When following these links you can often, though not always, compare the Greek text with an English translation by using the focus, show, and/or load buttons along the bars on the right side of the page.

As you may know, Greek word endings change according to grammar, so if you want to quickly highlight the word in a large block of Greek text, ctrl-f for the beginning letters, "φθορ," which are fixed.


Irsh Faq
Last Edit: 2 months, 1 week ago by Irsh Faq.
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