Questioning divine δεῖ: On allowing texts not to say everything

Peter Ben Smit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Frequently, δεῖ is associated with salvation history and the exercise of divine will and identified as “theological δεῖ” or “divine δεῖ”. In the history of scholarship, there is an increasing emphasis on interpreting δεῖ along these lines, thereby marginalizing other shades of meaning that this verb may have. The question is whether this course of interpretative action is justified. This will be tested in this article. In order to do so, first a brief overview of the possible shades of meaning of δεῖ will be provided; second, the occurrences of δεῖ in the Gospel of Mark are systematically reviewed; third and finally, concluding reflections will be offered, including a word of caution when it comes to deifying δεῖ. In this manner, the current study seeks to contribute to the undoing of the theosis of this particular part of early Christian vocabulary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-54
Number of pages15
JournalNovum Testamentum
Issue number1
Early online date5 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Determinism
  • Divine will
  • Gospel of Mark
  • Greek lexicography
  • Hermeneutics
  • History of interpretation
  • Predestination
  • Salvation history
  • Theological δε


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