Re: Meaning of TE

Carl W. Conrad (
Thu, 30 May 1996 17:24:02 -0500

At 3:14 PM -0500 5/30/96, John T. Lewis wrote:
>Hello Friends:
>What is the significance of "te"? I know that it is often translated "and."
>But is there some difference between te and kai? In particular, how is
>te.....te used? I have found very little info. on this word.

Yes, both are conjunctions, although KAI can be adverbial to emphasize the
word which it immediately precedes. However, as conjunctions, KAI joins
items, phrases or clauses more loosely, while TE tends to link two or more
nouns, adjectives, verbs, or what-have-you, as a natural unit.
Occasionally, but not as often in NT Koine as in classical Greek (perhaps
because it's particularly a poetic usage),you'll see two or more items
conjoined with appended TE's as in the Homeric phrase for Zeus as father of
men and gods: PATHR ANDRWN TE QEWN TE. Much more common to conjoin closely
a group of two or more parallel elements is ... TE KAI ..., as in the
classical Athenian term for a nobleman, KALOS TE KAI AGAQOS, meaning
something like: "both his looks and his behavior reflect good
breeding"--sort of like the Victorian "a gentleman and a scholar"
(nowadays, I suspect, one is more likely to be one or the other, but not
both, although I can think of two or three such as, e.g., Mason Hammond at
Harvard, a man with solid Beacon Hill credentials as well as a fine
historian and one with a keen sense of Latin prose.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR