Re: MEN-DE-DE in John 16:9-11

James H. Vellenga (
Fri, 23 Aug 96 12:14:02 EDT

"Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?"

Nonetheless, I can't resist trying.

I have found that often "MEN ... DE" translates nicely as "not only ...
but also". And similarly, that when there are two (parallel) DE's in
succession, the second one translates better as an "and" -- the Greek
seems to iterate the DE to emphasize the distinction from the first
clause, while the English more readily uses "and" to emphasize the
parallelism of the subsequent clauses.

I actually had not looked at the effect that this has on John 16.9-11
before, but it does seem subtly to change the flavor:

And [on] coming, that one will call the world system to
account about sin and about uprightness and about judgment:
not only [as you might expect] about sin, as they aren't
committing themselves to me; but also about uprightness,
as I'm going to the Father ...; and also about judgment,
as the ruler of this world system has been judged.

As to the other matters being raised by Carl and others ...

I agree that the sense of idiomatic structures doesn't come overnight,
but I also think there is value for us amateurs in spending time
getting to know the NT KOINE Greek better and better without a hope
of ever having the time to be able to read it as a language with
rhythms. I've spent uncounted hours over perhaps the last five
years or so on my own, but it's not my job, and family, church, and
other relationships all have their priorities. The result is that
I have reached a stage where I am "discovering" things (for myself,
not for the world at large), and even feeling competent enough to
comment occasionally on b-greek (though not as an expert). I.e.,
what I have learned is both pleasant and helpful, even if I don't
have the grasp of KOINE as a "native language."

Randy Leedy has favored us with the analogy of learning to do your
own wiring at home. I have a degreee in physics, and have spent
my entire career working (as a computer programmer) with electrical
engineers. What this means is that I have learned enough to do
simple things at home, such as replace light switches and ceiling
fixtures, and how to use a volt/ammeter to diagnose some other
problems, and so on. My brother, who has spent more time at
it than I have, can do more than I can (although I question the
wisdom of his practice of replacing ceiling fixtures without pulling
the fuse). Neither of us is a qualified electrician, but that doesn't
mean that we haven't benefitted considerably from what we do know.

So my conclusion is that learning a little Greek, while it can
lead to a belief that we know more than we do, is worthwhile for
those who want to do it, as long as we know that we're not
master electricians, and that we shouldn't try to wire the whole
house by ourselves.

Jim V.

James H. Vellenga |
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