From: Carl W. Conrad (email@example.com)
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 17:21:33 EST
At 3:14 PM -0600 3/31/00, Paul Schmehl wrote:
>This brings up a question that I have wondered about for a while -
>namely, how does one translate/understand Greek prepositions? I'm
>well aware they are translated in many different ways depending upon
>the context, but I've often felt that they ought to retain at least
>some semblance of their root meaning if they are to be correctly
>Carl (and others who are obviously the experts in Greek here), this
>particular "problem" seems to me to be easily solved by understanding
>the root meaning of EN; "in and remaining in" or "inside of
No, actually we've had some discussion recently of EN in other senses, some
arguing a proposition to which I remain rather unreceptive, that EN +
Dative can be the equivalent of an ordinary dative of reference (or
Certainly the single most common usage of EN + dative in Koine, as in older
Greek, was locative, "in" or "on" in a sense of stationary position--or
when the locative notion is applied to time, "at"; a second usage that is
not at all infrequent although surely not so common as the locative is EN +
dative in an instrumental sense of "by" or "with"--i.e. "by means of."
Nevertheless, although we have EN + dative sometimes used with a passive
construction to indicate the instrument of action, it would be hard to find
convincing instances of EN + dative indicating the agent of a passive verb.
>EN TOIS APOSTOLOIS then, would mean that Junia was "in" the apostles,
>as in "counted among them" or "one of them" or "inside the group of
>those called apostles" if you will. (Others may decide if Junia was a
>man or a woman, and I'll leave the theological arguments to those for
>whom the difference is important.)
The question of the gender of the form IOUNIAN has been much discussed on
this list; rather than rehearse the details, for which anyone can consult
the archives, it was once supposed that IOUNIAN was the acc. sg. masc. of a
proper noun IOUNIAS which was understood as a shortened form of the Latin
Junianus. The problem is that there are no instances anyone can point to of
such a masculine name in any Greek document, whereas Junia is a common
Latin woman's name as Junius is a common Latin man's name--the Junian gens
being that to which the celebrated assassin of Julius Caesar, Marcus Junius
Brutus, belonged. In sum, the known evidence point to IOUNIAN being a
feminine name and it would seem that the burden of proof lies on those who
would hold otherwise. We have inquired of Fred Danker who assures us that
when the new BDAG appears, the entry for IOUNIAN will be corrected to
indicated the improbability of its being a masculine form. This, I should
note, is not a question of theology but rather of Greek grammar and
lexicology and prosopography.
>Note, I do not mean to say that EN should always be translated "in" or
>"inside" but merely that one should always have that understanding in
>view when searching for an appropriate word in translation.
>Am I deluding myself to think that prepositions can be understood in
>this way as a general rule? (I know, the only rule of Greek is that
>there are no rules.) Should the root meaning always influence the
>final choice of receptor language word? Or can we ignore the root
>meanings in some cases?
This is actually rather dangerous. While there are some general pointers
about meanings of prepositions, actual usage must always be the real guide.
We had quite a discussion not too long ago on the range of meanings of DIA.
So while some basic senses of prepositions do show a reasonably clear
relationship to their etymological roots, it is quite dangerous to make
etymology an all-sufficient guide in this matter. It pays to study a good
grammar's or unabridged dictionary's complete article on the range of
meanings of prepositions, including what kinds of literature and at what
date the meanings attested are in fact attested.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/
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