[b-greek] re: translation... etc

From: Steven R. Lo Vullo (doulos@appleisp.net)
Date: Sat Sep 08 2001 - 00:51:20 EDT


on 9/7/01 7:49 PM, Jim West at jwest@highland.net wrote:

> okie dokie- since one example suffices (evidently) to establish the meaning
> of every occurance of every word (without any view to the context)- i offer
> the following:
>
> rhŕtor[i], eip(en): anagn˘thi kai su mou nomo?n?. S?e?[leu]k?os s?u?nŕgoros
> eip(en): kai meta Seouŕron pantes hoi hŕgoumenoi hout˘s
>
> Sammelbuch griechischer Urkunden aus Aegypten document 7696 (1.85)
>
> anaginwskw here can and should be rendered *tell* or *reiterate* or *recite*.
>
> as i have suggested on dozens of occassions, context is completely essential
> in determining meaning. i again suggest that readers of nt texts sensitize
> themselves to the context of words rather than blindly swallowing whatever
> preconceived notions they have of the text.

OK, let's talk context (both the context of this discussion, and the context
of the text originally in view). Here's where we've been so far:

First, Jim dogamatically claimed that Jesus was illiterate. No proof
offered, just "thus saith Jim." Of course, this comment had nothing to do
with B-Greek, it was just meant to get under people's skin.

Then, when the Rev. Bryant J. Williams III adduced Luke 4.16, what argument
from context did Jim offer us? He said "jesus is handed a scroll opened to a
text and then he procedes to *recite* the text." Unfortunately for Jim the
only part of his assertion that is valid is that Jesus was handed a scroll
(EPEDOQH AUTWi BIBLION). The text goes on to make abundantly clear that
*Jesus* opened the scroll and that *he* found the place where the text in
question was written, *not* that the scroll was already opened to a text.
That is the only possible meaning of KAI ANAPTUXAS TO BIBLION hEUREN TON
TOPON hOU HN GEGRAMMENON ("and he opened the scroll and found the place
where it was written"). Note that he had already been given the scroll
(EPEDOQH AUTWi BIBLION), so *both* of the above actions (opening it and
finding the place) of necessity were performed by him. Of course, read like
this it is obvious that the tradition assumes the literacy of Jesus, since
(1) it would make no sense to find a place from which to read if the
intention was only to recite and (2) if he couldn't read he would not even
be able to find where a specific passage of Scripture was written in the
first place.

Next, in the same post, Jim treats us to an exquisite morsel of root
fallacy, arguing that because ANA means "again" or "down," ANAGINWSKW must
mean to "know again" or "know down." When it was pointed out to him by
Steven Sheely that ANA doesn't mean "down" but rather "up," Jim was
undeterred. Says he, "but knowing up is the same as knowing down... ie-
recitation." Up, down, all-around--it's all the same to Jim. (This is the
second time in two weeks that Jim has mistaken the spatial meaning of a
preposition. The last time, META was said to mean "above." When Carl Conrad
pointed out that META doesn't mean "above" but could possibly mean "beyond,"
Jim replied, "above is certainly beyond. and beyond is part of above."
That's certainly "beyond" me!)

But even if (which I highly doubt) we are to take the components of
ANAGINWSKW together literally, the idea "to know up" is a relatively good
picture of reading, as Steven Sheely pointed out. It should be noted also
that Jim conceded to Carl Conrad that at least one of Carl's examples (in
Acts 15.30-31) did indeed mean "to read." Clearly Jim's precise argument
from etymology can't possibly apply in this case. Either that, or he needs
to explain how his "literal" understanding, which he said indicates
"recite," can now indicate "read" as well. If he says the "literal" meaning
doesn't apply here, he must explain to us why we should automatically
assume, as he seems to do in Luke 4.16, that it applies in any respective
text, especially since it is obvious from how it is used in context in the
NT that in the overwhelming majority of cases the meaning "read" is either
indisputable or highly probable. I can't think of one indisputable case
where "recite" is demanded from the context, but can offer many where "read"
is. And it must be understood that if the vast majority of uses of
ANAGINWSKW indicate "read," that makes it much more *probable* that it also
means "read" in contexts that don't necessarily demand "read," but where
"read" makes good sense. It is not enough to say the context determines; Jim
must prove in any respective context that ANAGINWSKW indisputably or more
probably means "recite." Since the particular context we are dealing with
right now is Luke 4.16-17, I beg him to answer the contextual arguments the
rest of us have offered. For someone who argues that "context is king," he
has paid paltry homage to his liege.

Finally, failing to convince anyone with his arguments from context or
etymology, he now turns to misrepresentation. In this latest post we are
informed that we all believe "one example suffices ... to establish the
meaning of every occurance of every word (without any view to the context)."
Of course, no one said or thinks any such thing. In fact, we pointed to
several factors *in* the context of Luke 4.16-17 that make it obvious Jesus
*read* the text he held in his hand. Jim's argument above seems to be that
since we all believe one example suffices to establish the meaning of every
occurence of every word, his one example should prove that ANAGINWSKW means
"recite" everywhere it is used, and we are thus obligated to accept that.
But since his charge is false, he cannot hold us to his conclusion. I would
be willing to admit for the sake of argument that ANAGINWSKW could, in
Hellenistic Greek, in some context somewhere, mean recite. But I would
contend that it cannot be *proven* to indisputably or most probably mean
this anywhere in the NT, Jim's one esoteric extrabiblical example
notwithstanding. In studying Greek, we must lean toward what is *most
probable,* not what is merely *possible*.
--

Steve Lo Vullo
Madison, WI


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