Re: BHMA and other classical issues

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Mar 13 1997 - 12:51:58 EST

At 10:43 AM -0600 3/13/97, kdlitwak wrote:
>do to me. I can only say that when I read Shakespeare, there are words
>I don't know, but it still seems like English to me. When I read
>Lucian, it seems like a language I've never seen in my entire life. I
>havent' done statistical analysis to validate this, but given the sets
>of classical Greek vocab. I've encountered (including a huge number of
>hapax legomena inLucian) and NT vocab., I'd say that at least in what
>I'm reading, there's about a 5% overlap and that's all.

Well, of course, if you're going to do a statistical analysis, you'd have
to use comparable texts and comparable quantities of text to test your
vocabulary overlap. I'm not sure there's anything in the NT that's really
the same kind of text that Lucian writes, but I think you would find
considerably more overlap if you went to the LXX, particularly 2 Maccabees
and some of the narrative stories such as Susanna, or even the book of
Jonah--or Ben Sirach, and Wisdom of Solomon.

                                                             I'm sure most
>NT words are used somewhere else in Greek but I haven't really seen them
>in what I've read this semester or if I have, their meaning is so
>radically different that they might as well be new words, like CHARIS.
>I still have to look that stuff up because CHARIS in Lucian and CHARIS
>in Paul couldn't be much more unrelated for using the same word.

Your problem (or one of them), Ken, is that you've gone in the wrong
direction. Even regarding this final point of the relationship between the
NT or Pauline word CARIS and the use of the word CARIS in the older Greek
tradition, there is a much closer relationship that you're indicating: the
fundamental sense of the word is "gratuitous kindness"--particularly of the
sort that evokes reciprocal good will--gratitude and return of the favor.
Paul's usage of the word does indeed develop a specific theological sense,
but it is by no means alien to the traditional senses of the word in Greek.

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

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