Re: Pros

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Jun 04 1999 - 08:15:45 EDT

<x-rich>I want to make just a couple clarifications regarding what I meant in
the statements cited and commented on by Donald Shaffer.

At 5:30 AM -0400 6/4/99, Donald L. Shaffer wrote:

>On 06/03/99, ""Carl W. Conrad" <<>" wrote:


>> The rest of this is theological speculation, which really doesn't
belong on

>> this list


>This is a Greek list, and perhaps I am one who doesn't belong here. I

>don't know much about Greek, but using Strong numbers compare the

>of various verses to try to get the meaning. I just want to say

>leaving that translators at one time must have used context to

>what the words were to mean in the first place. Even babies do the
same as

>they learn to talk. I would like to learn Greek to help in

>what the Bible is really saying. But I think I would always use

>just as much. Having said that, I agree that one shouldn't break

>rules of translating just because of his theology.

(1) Although I did get the impression that your approach to the meaning
of PROS was driven initially by the understanding of John 1:1-2. And,
although I thought personally that you were wrong, I would nevertheless
not want to discourage questions of lexicology here--they definitely
are appropriate to this list. But my comment about theological
speculation was not directed at all toward you, but rather toward
(PROS: 'in regard to') discussion of 'relatedness' as a motif in John's

(2) Yes, it IS a Greek list, and our welcome message sent to all new
subscribers does say: "Anyone interested in New Testament Studies is
invited to subscribe, but the list will assume at least a working
knowledge of Biblical Greek." Beginning learners of Greek are certainly
welcome on the list, but the manner in which questions are put do seem
to indicate that some subscribers who are posting are working primarily
from a translation and asking questions about what they are told in a
reference work about the Greek text being translated, i.e. that the
questioner is not really a student of Greek at all. I certainly
wouldn't want to urge lurkers who don't know any Greek to unsubscribe,
but I think it SHOULD be understood that list discussion is based on an
assumption that posters are knowledgeable to some extent--even if only
beginners--in Biblical Greek. What I would really urge any lurkers who
are not students of Greek to BECOME students of Greek in a serious

At 5:41 AM -0400 6/4/99, Donald L. Shaffer wrote:

>On 06/03/99, ""Carl W. Conrad" <<>" wrote:


>> The input I was eager to get into this discussion with my long and

>> response was that one really does well to START with what we are
told by

>> lexicons and grammars about the meanings of prepositions and

>> before launching into a speculative wild goose chase.


>It was *because* of starting with the lexicon that I went to using

> The lexicon said that PROS was much more often translated as

>else rather than "with." I wanted to determine for myself whether it

>really meant "with" in a way that would exclude Him from being the one

>was with.

But a lexicon is not primarily a tool intended for use of those who are
not students of Greek at some level; the value of a good, unabridged
lexicon resides in many of the kinds of information it offers, among
them (not necessarily in order of importance): (1) etymological
background, if relevant, is likely to be given--this isn't necessarily
a key to actual usage at any particular period of the language, but it
can be helpful to reveal the starting point from which the range of
semantic usage developed; (2) systematized accounts of major meanings
and derivative meanings of the word in question; (3) phrases or
sentences from Greek authors that illustrate precisely what the editor
sees as essential to a particular usage. Ultimately I think it is
these phrases and sentences--and one will find these also in a really
good Greek grammar like Smyth or BDF--that are the most useful items
deserving of study, because when one is consulting the lexicon for a
word, one needs to do far more than search for the one gloss that fits
the text that spurred one to consult the lexicon; one really needs to
get some sense of the range of meanings and the contexts in which those
meanings appear. The contexts ARE of fundamental importance in
word-meaning, and one major function of any good lexicon is to help the
student understand the kinds of contexts in which a word may have a
sense either a shade or far more than a shade different from the sense
it has in other contexts. In sum, just like a GOOD dictionary, a
lexicon is a tool that is of more use to one who KNOWS the language
than to one who doesn't.

Carl W. Conrad

Department of Classics, Washington University

Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243



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