Grammar / Greek and Hebrew / Prophecy in the Crucible / Restrainer

The Force of monon (μόνον) in 2 Thess. 2:7 Illustrated from Josephus

In my post on the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 — read it here — I suggested that the correct understanding of monon (μόνον) in the passage was except. I pointed out that this sense was also found in Galations 2:9-10 where we read, “When James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised, except (μόνον) that we should remember the poor [in Judaea], the very thing which I also was eager to do.” Monon (μόνον) is used here to indicate the one exception to the division of labor in their ministry efforts. This sense of except, the only or onely exception, is fairly common in Josephus. I found eight instances of it in his writings which I give below.

Josephus Antiquities 6.146 — τὸ μέντοι γε τῶν Ἀμαληκιτῶν γένος πᾶν ἐξηφανίσθαι κατὰ τὴν ἐντολὴν καὶ περιλείπεσθαι ἄλλον μηδένα, πρὸς δ ̓ αὐτὸν ἀγαγεῖν μόνον τηρήσαντα αὐτῶν τὸν βασιλέα — “As to the nation of the Amalekites, it was entirely destroyed according to the command [of God] and no man was left except (μόνον) their king who was brought to him [Samuel] alive.”

Josephus Antiquities 8.413 — ὁ μὲν γὰρ Ἄδαδος ὁ τῶν Σύρων βασιλεὺς παρήγγειλε τῇ στρατιᾷ διὰ τῶν ἡγεμόνων μηδένα τῶν ἄλλων ἀναιρεῖν, μόνον δὲ τὸν βασιλέα τῶν Ἰσραηλιτῶν. — “Benhadad the king of Assyria had charged his army through his commanders to kill no one except (μόνον) the king of Israel.”

Josephus Antiquities 9.147 — μηδένα δ ̓ εἰσελθεῖν ὁπλίτην ἐάσητε ἢ μόνον ἱερέα — “Let no armed person go into the temple except (μόνον) the priest” — I suspect that the phrase ἢ μόνον is an idiom similar in force to English “other than,” a phrase which has the same force as “except.”

Josephus Antiquities 12.376 — Ἀντίοχος δὲ λαβὼν τὴν πόλιν ἄλλο μὲν αὐτοὺς οὐδὲν διέθηκεν, μόνον δὲ γυμνοὺς ἐξέβαλεν — “When Antiochus had taken the city, he did them no other harm, except (μόνον) he sent them out naked.” — English idiom would simply say “he did them no harm except send them out naked” or “he didn’t do them any harm except send them out naked.”

Josephus Antiquities 13.54 — μηδὲ εἷς Ἰουδαῖος ἄλλο ἔχῃ ἱερὸν προσκυνεῖν ἢ μόνον τὸ ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις. — “not one Jew should have another temple to worship at except (μόνον) the temple in Jerusalem” — English idiom would run something like, “no Jew should have [any] other temple to worship [at] except that in Jerusalem.”

Josephus, Against Apion 1.98 — τὸν μὲν ἀδελφὸν Ἅρμαϊν ἐπίτροπον τῆς Αἰγύπτου κατέστησεν καὶ πᾶσαν μὲν αὐτῷ τὴν ἄλλην βασιλικὴν περιέθηκεν ἐξουσίαν, μόνον δὲ ἐνετείλατο διάδημα μὴ φορεῖν — “He made his brother Armais to be deputy over Egypt, and bestowed on him all the other royal privileges except (μόνον) that he was commanded not to wear the diadem.”

Josephus, Against Apion 2.14 — διαβεβαιωσάμενος εἰπεῖν οὐδὲ περὶ Πυθαγόρου μόνον οὐκ ἐχθὲς καὶ πρῴην γεγονότος — “affirming nothing about Pythagoras except (μόνον) that he was not born yesterday or the day before”

Josephus, Jewish Wars 1.636 — τοιαῦτα μετ ̓ ὀλοφυρμοῦ καὶ δακρύων ἐκβοῶν τούς τε ἄλλους ἅπαντας καὶ τὸν Οὔαρον εἰς οἶκτον προυκαλέσατο, μόνον δὲ ὁ θυμὸς Ἡρώδην ἄδακρυν διεκράτει τοὺς ἐλέγχους ἀληθεῖς ἐπιστάμενον — “These things [Antipater] cried with lamentation and weeping, moving all the others, even Varus, except (μόνον) Herod, whose fury kept him dry-eyed, knowing that the testimonies against him were true.”

I trust that there is enough corroboration here to satisfy my learned brethren, whether Greek scholars or prophecy experts, that monon (μόνον) in the sense of except is an actual Koine Greek phenomenon and not a merely an ad hoc sense that I have contrived to prop up my exegesis. Indeed, except is the usual sense of monon (μόνον) when the context is referring to exceptions.

[The Greek citations of Josephus are from Josephus, F., & Niese, B. (1888–). Flavii Iosephi opera recognovit Benedictvs Niese … Berolini: apvd Weidmannos. — accessed and utilized in Logos Bible Software. The English translation is my own.]

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