[b-greek] Re: EIS QEON

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Tue Aug 28 2001 - 12:41:49 EDT

At 6:19 AM -0700 8/28/01, Alan B. Thomas wrote:
>Concerning this...
>> So I think that, yes, at least in this
>> case, the LXX
>> translators did abandon "ordinary Greek grammar" in
>> order to account for
>> what was in the Hebrew. We often have a tendency to
>> do this sort of thing
>> when translating from Greek to English.
>I was trying to take this another direction.
>What I think I was more after was justification
>for why IN THIS INSTANCE did they abandon ordinary
>grammar? (The LXX generally follows Greek grammar.)
>Furthermore, does not Greek have the ability to
>communicate the concept "become" here? If they
>understood the idea to mean "become", then is
>EIS QEON the way to communicate that to a Greek?

Yes, of course, Greek has the ability to communicate the concept "become"
simply by using the appropriate form of GINOMAI. But in the LXX--and not by
any means only in this passage--the use of EIS + acc. with EINAI or
GENESQAI is so common that it has to be considered a "Hebraism." See, for
instance, F.C. Conybeare & St. George Stock, _A Grammqar of Septuagint
Greek_ (my copy was published by Zondervan, I'm not sure who's reprinting
this 19th-century classic intro to what was originally a book of LXX sample
texts), #90c-e, They note that this originated in the LXX, is found several
times in the GNT and also in the Apostolic Fathers.

As for the final question, I'm not sure that the LXX was ever really meant
primarily for use by ethnic Greeks (the Letter of Aristeas to the contrary
notwithstanding, with its myth that the LXX was composed for inclusion in
the Library of Alexandria and commissioned originally by Ptolemy); I think
it was really created for the use of Greek-speaking ethnic Jews living in
Alexandria and elsewhere in the Greek-speaking diaspora--and I think that
we should understand the Greek usage of such ethnic Jews as something as
different from schoolbook Greek taught in the Gymnasia as the English of
ethnic Jewish immigrants to the U.S. (and elsewhere) that has been heavily
influenced by the "Yiddish" dialect of German--and even as "Yiddish" itself

has been heavily influenced by Hebrew. I really think that the LXX was
created, then, for the use of Greek-speaking Jews rather than for Gentiles,
and that these "Semitisms" became a special element of idiom that survived
in "Jewish Greek" for several centuries.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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