Re: HELP: Paul and the greek word musterion

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Sep 25 1998 - 15:37:45 EDT

<x-flowed>I would respond off-list to this, but I wanted to apologize on-list for my
gruffness. Some of what George is saying here is a little bit clearer than
what he wrote before, about which I'll have a word below.

At 11:29 AM -0700 9/25/98, wrote:
>Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> At 7:45 AM -0700 9/25/98, Messmers wrote:
>> >Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> >
>> >> And the suggestion that
>> >> there's some linkage between MUSTHRION and MUQOS strikes me as very
>> >> strange;
>> >
>> >One of the things I noticed in reading John is the thematic difference
>> >vertical and horizontal, between laying down and standing up, between
>> >active and
>> >passive posture: hISTHMI vs QEW. Theta is the horizontal letter
>> >[middle/passive]
>> >indicator. With the MU root, MUSTHRION denotes a standing in silence,
>> >laying down in silence, in a very broad and general way.
>> So this is a new theory of how Greek words are compounded?
>Well, I do have a kind of maverick way of approaching John in Greek,
>Carl, and a non-conventional approach to understanding Greek word
>compounding. Remember my approach to AION? As a compound of A
>privative, EI and ON? To my thinking, the neuter fact of 'without if'
>gives a much more intelligible rendering of AION than 'eternal', which
>is far too long a time for my little brain, and accords well with the
>idea of being outside of the 'if-ness' of material existence and 'in
>Christ', where there is no 'if' to be concerned with.

I think I understand what you're doing, George, but I confess that I still
have little patience with this sort of dissolution of AIWN into
alpha-privative + EI + WN. The reason I have little patience with it is
that I believe, in my own fashion, that unless we're clearly dealing with
words formed of compounded different roots in Greek, we ought not to play
that sort of etymological games as a clue to meanings. In the case of AIWN,
I do not believe there ever were distinct A + EI + ON elements in the root
AION-. The word is Indo-European and is manifestly identical/cognate with
the Latin words AEVUM and AETAS (<--AEVITAS), both of which refer to a
definite time period. The Greek word has the older form AIfON-; there's not
even a hint of a participle of EIMI in it or the word stem would be AIONT-
instead of AION-.

>> We ought to
>> understand MUSTHRION as compounded of MU and STH (from hISTHMI) and
>> similarly we ought to understand MUQOS as compounded of the same MU and
>> some root beginning with a Theta--you seem to be suggesting QEW, which
>> means "run," but I don't know whether you seriously meant that or not.
>Well, quoting Zodhiates' 'Word Study' Greek dictionary section page 36
>~ Between 2333 and 2334 [Strong's numbers] : QEW theo See 5087
>And 5087: TIQHMI tith'-ay-mee A prol. form of a prim.
> QEW theo [which is used only as an alt. in cert. tenses]
>to place [in the widest application lit. and fig.; prop. in a passive
>or horizontal posture, and thus different from 2476, which properly
>denotes an upright and active position, while 2479 is prop. reflexive
>and utterly prostrate]:+advise, appoint, bow, commit, conceive, give,
>x kneel down, lay [aside, down, up] make, ordain, purpose, put, set
>[forth], settle, sink down.
>So I was unaware of QEW meaning 'to run', Carl, and was looking into
>the roots in an endeavor to see beneath the surface of the narrative ~
>Its 'deep structure', if you will.

I understand what Zodhiates is saying here, but I don't think it means what
you've interpreted it to mean. The root of the verb TIQHMI has essentially
a long-vowel form QH- and a short-vowel form QE-. The form QEW may be
found, I believe, in Ionic dialect as an uncontracted form of the aorist
active subjunctive of the verb TIQHMI, but the form with QE- doesn't have
any different meaning from the present tense TIQHMI: the present tense can
mean to put down, put away, deposit, lay flat (in which sense, KEIMAI
functions as its perfect MP. But it's not as if TIQH- and QE- functioned to
express different meanings.

>> >A myth is a fable that tells a simple story whose very structure [deep
>> >structure?]
>> >is actually telling another story, but in silence. The simple story
>> >stands forth,
>> >the real one lies hidden within it. Thus the mystery that those who stand
>> >silently
>> >witness after their initiation into it. They tend to speak simply and in
>> >parables... How else to describe? They know both sides of it in a way
>> >that before
>> >they only knew one.
>> >
>> >I hope I'm not sounding too mysterious!!!
>> This, I think, is not so much mystery as pure witchcraft! Magic! Hocus
>> Pocus Dominocus!
>I don't do witchcraft, magic and hocus pocus! Never have, never
>will. And I never heard of Dominocus ~ [Does it rhyme with 'Don't ya
>poke us?]' I had a large tongue in a big cheek in my last post, but
>the simple truth lies in the difficulty of talking about heavenly
>matters with words that are fleshily derived. Misunderstandings are

I'm sorry for the intemperate outburst. But here we differ very sharply on
the nature of linguistic analysis; I'm not questioning your sincerity, nor
your ingenuity; nevertheless, what you are doing with words like MUQOS and
AIWN seems more akin the machinations of an alchemist than anything else
that I can think of.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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