Re: Mark 7:26

From: Thomas J. Kraus (
Date: Wed Nov 17 1999 - 15:59:52 EST

On 16 Nov 99, at 2:25, Eamonnn White wrote:

> Hi everybody,
> "The Jesus Papyrus" by Thiede & D'Ancona, P.117
> In an effort to prove that Jesus spoke Greek the Authors use the scene
> where Jesus spoke with the Syro-Phoenician woman: Mark 7:26 hH DE GUNH
> HN hELLHNIS This they translate as "The woman was Greek-speaking" My
> dictionary gives hELLHNISTI as "in the Greek language". My question is
> : Are the Authors correct or is it a 'liberal' rather than a literal
> translation?
> Sincerely,
> Eamonn White

When I started to answer this mail, Steven Craig Miller«s answer
flew into my letterbox. So the point about adverb and substantiv is
clear as well as the meaning of hELLHNIS. Quite problematic
might be what this word means in Mark 7:26 exactly, or in other
words, what is implied by its usage there.
No doubt, someone denoted as being "Greek" might be thought of
a Greek speaking person. By translating "in the Greek language"
the problem of translation and interpretation comes into focus.
hELLHNIS then is more or less interpreted, even more, all its
possible meanings are narrowed to the point of Greek language.

One major point here is that Eamonn White was referring to Thiede
and Ancona. Although Thiede is capable of good Greek, each of
his works shows a peculiar liking of leaving away ambigious
meanings. As far as hELLHNIS is concerned Thiede tried to limit
its meaning to that point that might fit in his argument.
Nevertheless, his reasoning remains contradictory, without much
interest in scholarly discussion but concentrated on making his
own sensationalist point appear more plausible. The verb with the
same root ending with -IZW and hELLHNISTI do really imply the
matter of language, the substantive mentioned above not directly.

Even if these quotes may not be of any help to find out the exact
function and meaning of hELLHNIS in Mark 7:26, Euripides« Electra
(I think it was somewhere around the 1050s) hH hELLHNIS - for a
"Greek woman" (with positive associations) as well as Menander
(79) might be quite interesting. There the substantive serves to
identify a woman by referring to her culture (nationality) regarded
from the same cultural standpoint. As far as I can remember
correctly, some classical and late classical authors use hELLHNIS
together with GLWTTA or DIALEKTOS whenever they are referring
to the Greek language in a specific way.

Nevertheless, Steven said the most prominent facts already.


Thomas J. Kraus

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