From: Carl W. Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Jun 22 2000 - 13:19:29 EDT
At 10:26 AM -0400 6/22/00, Joseph Brian Tucker wrote:
>Does DEILOI give the sense of "cowardly fear" in Mk. 4:40
>Does FOBON give the sense of "reverence, awe" in Mk. 4:41
>This statement was made in a commentary, and it appears to be beyond the
>actual words used here.
>But, if there is now difference, why use different words? Only for style?
I'm reminded here of the question discussed in one of the Platonic
dialogues (Protagoras?) on the relationship between FOBOS and AIDWS.
The text: Mk 4:40 KAI EIPEN AUTOIS: TI DEILOI ESTE? OUPW ECETE PISTIN? 41
KAI EFOBHQHSAN FOBON MEGAN KAI ELEGON PROS ALLHLOUS: TIS ARA hOUTOS ESTIN
hOTI KAI hO ANEMOS KAI hH QALASSA hUPAKOUEI AUTWi?
DEILOS/H/ON as an adjective or as a substantive is the old Homeric word for
"coward" on the battlefield, one who is afraid to face danger. FOBOS by
itself is rather neutral, but note that FOBOUMAI means "fear" or "shrink
from"--but CAN take the sense, "revere," and the active FOBEW means "rout"
or "startle." The roots of both words can convey, I think,the whole range
of senses of weakness and inferiority in the face of something great and
terrifying. The root DwEI- (w = digamma) appears in the adjective
DEINOS/H/ON which can mean "frightening" or "awesome." In the 5th-c. Attic
cliché "DEINOS LEGEIN" DEINOS means "awesome." Sophocles' 'Ode on Man' in
the Antigone begins with the sentence, POLLA TA DEINA, K'OUDEN ANQRWPOU
DEINOTERON. English versions usually make DEINOS here "wonderful": "Many
are the wonderful things, but nothing is more wonderful than a human
being." On the other hand, Heidegger put it into German as 'schrecklich':
"terrifying." There is clearly an ambiguity in these words. As for Mk
4:40-41, different readers may get a different take on it, but in my
opinion, Mark means in these verses to show the distance between Jesus'
conception of the disciples and the disciples' conception of Jesus: the
disciples, in Jesus' view, are timid and helpless in the face of what is
awesome and threatening and wonderful--they will run away when he is
arrested before their eyes; in the view of the disciples Jesus is uncanny,
utterly beyond their ken; they know that whatever he is threatens their
hitherto self-understanding and their security. And they are surely right.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
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