From: Carl W. Conrad (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Jun 26 1997 - 05:57:40 EDT
To save space, I'm going to include only the salient points of earlier
parts of this string.
At 7:13 PM -0400 6/25/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>At 08:29 AM 6/25/97 EDT, James H. Vellenga wrote:
>>> From: "Stephen C. Carlson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>>> Subject: ANQRWPOS in Jn2:25
>>> KAI OTI OU CREIAN EICEN hINA TIS MARTURHSH PERI TOU ANQRWPOU
>>> AUTOS GAR EGINWSKEN TI HN EN TWi ANQRWPWi.
>>> why does ANQRWPOS take a definite article in this verse?
>> Carlton Winbery's observation of
>>a couple of weeks ago that the definite article with the singular
>>can denote a representative of a group.
>> I have long been puzzled by the article in Matt. 6.14:
>> EAN GAR AFHTE TOIS ANQRWPOIS TA PARAPTWMATA AUTWN ...
>Smyth's grammar has examples of the generic article with both singular and
>1122. The generic article denotes an entire class as distinguished from
>other classes. Thus, hO ANQRWPOS, "man" (as distinguished from other
>beings), hOI GERONTES "the aged"; DEI TON STRATIWTHN FOBEISQI MALLON TON
>ARXONTA hH TOUS POLEMIOUS "the/a soldier should fear his commander rather
>than the enemy" X.A.2.6.10, PONHRON hO SUKOFANTHS "the informer is a vile
>This generic sense with the plural seems to be what is used in the
>Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3 ff:
>MAKARIOI *hOI PTOXOI* TWi PNEUMATI, hOTI AUTWN ESTIN hH BASILEIA TWN OURANWN.
>MAKARIOU *hOI PENQOUNTES*, hOTI AUTOI PARAKLHQHSONTAI.
>MAKARIOI *hOI PRAEIS*, hOTI AUTOI KLHRONOMHSOUSIN THN GHN.
>Smyth draws this distinction between singular and plural:
>1123. In the singular the generic article makes a single object the
>representative of the entire class; in the plural it denotes all the objects
>belonging to a class...
>Now I hope someone who knows Greek better than I do will jump in and confirm
>or deny this, but if Smyth's distinction is valid, maybe "blessed are the
>poor in spirit" could also be translated "blessed are all who are poor in
>spirit" and your example in Matt. 6.14, EAN GAR AFHTE TOIS ANQRWPOIS TA
>PARAPTWMATA AUTWN, could be translated "for if you forgive all ANQRWPOI
>their wrongdoing". (I left ANQRWPOI untranslated because I just can't take
>the heat ;-> ).
I think Smyth is well cited here. A good example of the principle in Smyth
#1123 is Plato's classic distinction between the universal, TO AGAQON, and
the many particulars that somehow METECEI TOU AGAQOU, i.e. TA AGAQA.
Mt 6:14 is a fine example of Greek's use of the article to generalize. I
wouldn't hesitate to translate it as, "For if you forgive people their
misdeeds ... "
One other point: Dale Wheeler raised the question yesterday about whether
the English second person indefinite might satisfactorily convey the force
of a Greek generic third person. He appealed to the judgment of others, but
I think his own judgment is pretty good here--he didn't feel very
comfortable with the equation. In general I think Latin has a stronger
tendency to use a generalizing second person than does Greek--Greek really
prefers to set general propositions in the third person, so that Mt 6:14 in
Attic might more likely have been formulated EAN TIS TOIS ALLOIS TA
PARAPTWMATA AFHi ... or hOSTIS AN ...
On the other hand the unaccented particle TOI (which also appears in many
compounded particles) was originally the archaic dative sg. which became
the historical SOI (just as the earlier nom. of SU was TU, identical with
the Latin 2nd sg. nom. personal pronoun)--and some of the idiomatic force
of that TOI in sentences inheres in its use: "I tell you ... ," "you know
All of this belongs to the problematic nature of the game of translation
and the general truth discussed yesterday that translations--particularly
in the case of more abstract and complex propositions--can convey a general
proposition reasonably well but will leave something smaller or larger in
importance untranslated because the idiom of one language has no equivalent
in the other.
It seems to me that in one sense what is being undertaken in efforts to
formulate the Biblical text in inclusive language is akin to the (laudable)
Jewish rabbinical endeavor to interpret the Torah, in each new era, in a
way that expresses the enduring God-given commandment of the Mosaic
legislation in a way that makes it applicable to the circumstances of the
era. That rabbinical endeavor was never or rarely unaccompanied by
controversy and differences among the rabbis, even schools, such as those
of Hillel and Gamaliel--but the principle remains that although the will of
God remains one in essence, its formulation will need to be modified to
apply to changing circumstances.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(704) 675-4243
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