Re: The use of the German word "Sondergut" in NT Studies

Edgar M. Krentz (
Sat, 16 Nov 1996 06:07:22 -0500

>At 02:20 PM 11/16/96 -0500, Mr. Timothy T. Dickens wrote:
>>Dear Friends at B-Greek,
>> Today my question has to do with understanding the German word
>>"Sondergut." This term seems to be a technical term in literature dealing
>>with NT Studies, "Q" studies in particular. I looked up the word in my
>>Cassell's German-English dictionary and found dozens of entries to "Sonder"
>>and "Gut," but none to "Sondergut."

You just ran into an characteristic of the German language that is similar
to Greek. Both languages encourage one to produce neologisms by compounding
two or more words. E.g. the word Windschutsscheibeputzer. Wind means wind,
Schutz means protection, Scheibe is the word for a pane of glass, putzen
means to clean. So a Windschutsscheibeputzer is a windshield washer.

Thological language is crowded with such compounds. Gut is material (A
Lastwagen, that is, a freight truck, engages in Gueterverkehr, that is
materials traffic.) Sondern means to separate. Sondergut is that material
which is separated out, i.e. is unique to Matthew or Luke.

No German dictionary, not even the great Grimm's Woerterbuch, can possibly
keep up with the on-going coinage of new words in German, e.g. "No-iron
Hemd," drip-dry shirt" (the real Germanic phrase would be "buegelfrei
Hemd," a shirt that if free of the iron.

So if you meet a compound word in German that is not in the Woerterbuch, a
Nachshlagewerk (note the compounds), look up the constituent words used in
the compound and see if you cannot infer the presumed sense--exactly the
same kind of guessing you should do in Greek.

Edgar Krentz, New Testament OR *****
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
1100 East 55th Street
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