Re: How to recognize hendiadys?

From: Paul Zellmer (
Date: Mon Jun 21 1999 - 18:57:46 EDT

Jonathan Robie wrote:

> Let me throw another candidate hendiasys into the pot here, since I'm
> puzzling over this right now. One commentary suggests that in Genesis 2:16,
> "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" is a hendiasys. Is this
> likely? I do not know Hebrew. In the LXX, the phrase is:
> Could this be a hendiasys where KALON KAI PONHRON means something like
> "pleasurable evil" or "attractive evil"?
> Jonathan


I recognize that your question is specifically about the LXX in order to fit the
focus of this group, but, since the question is being discussed on this list and
since original thought apparently came from a commentary describing the Hebrew,
please let me respond to a Hebrew question in this Greek forum.

Basically, you question arises from slightly different definitions of hendiadys.
Your usage is the much more common on, adequately expressed by the Merriam-Webster
Collegiate Dictionary: the expression of an idea by the use of usu. two independent
words connected by and (as nice and warm) instead of the usual combination of
independent word and its modifier (as nicely warm). Hebrew grammars, on the other
hand, normally use the definition as expressed by Walke and O'Connor in their
glossary: a single expression of two apparently separate part, e.g., 'kith and kin.'
So, using the first definition, the item being described is one of the expressed
parts, but, according to the definition used by Hebrew grammars and the corresponding
commentaries, the expressed items each describe a part of the bigger (usually
implied) concept.

Specifically, if "good and evil" is hendiadys (and that is opinion, as has been
stated already in this thread), both good and evil are parts of something else, like
"the quality that determines whether something is considered good or evil."

Perhaps this will explain why, on the Hebrew list, people refer to pairs of verbs
like, "He went and he saw," as hendiadys and therefore a single activity.



Paul and Dee Zellmer, Jimmy Guingab, Geoffrey Beltran
Ibanag Translation Project
Cabagan, Isabela, Rep. of Philippines

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