[b-greek] Re: 1 Pet 3:21 EPERWTHMA

From: Iver Larsen (iver_larsen@sil.org)
Date: Sun Mar 31 2002 - 04:11:52 EST


Mike Sangrey has helped me to see why we didn't understand one another very
well. The reason is that what in English is called an "issue" is in Danish
called a "question". So, I was using the English word "question" to denote
what you would call an issue. However, even these words do not match
exactly. The English word "issue" has an element of problem or dispute in
it. When I need to translate issue into Danish I have two choices:
"spørgsmål" (question) or "problem". Sometimes "spørgsmål" is closer to
English "matter".

> >> >Baptism is contrasted to an ordinary bath which is a question
> of removing dirt from the body, but baptism is different, although it can
> be compared with a bath in a certain sense.
> >> >Can it be understood as "but (baptism) is a question of
> >> (having/gaining?) a good conscience towards God"?
> >
> >(snip)
> >Carl:
> >> In any case, "question" is
> >> not the right sense here, inasmuch as the context is not interrogatory.
> >
> >I don't follow you here. The context involves a contentious issue and
> >implies the asking of many questions as well as giving various
> answers and explanations.
> Sorry, but I don't really follow you here either, Iver.

In order to see what Greek word might correspond to English "issue" I looked
to see when an interlinear had used the gloss "issue". It occurred only in
Acts for the word ZHTHMA.
It looks like ZHTHMA relates to ZHTEW as EPERWTHMA relates to EPERWTAW.
What is the difference between these two related pairs of words?
As far as I can tell the difference is that ZHTEW and ZHTHMA involve a
dispute or word-fight, the desire to be right or to win the argument. That
is why the Danish literal version consistently translates by
"stridsspørgsmål" in Acts, which means "contentious issue" in English.
The other two words relate to questioning in an honest attempt to seek an
answer. That is, one strives to unearth the facts in an objective way and
hopefully get an answer. Sometimes the questions are asked of a god. For
this meaning we would say "spørgsmål" in Danish and that corresponds
somewhat to "uncontentious issue". So, re-reading my own post, I would like
to withdraw my suggestion that this was a contentious issue. I had not at
that time realized that ZHTHMA would be the word to use for that sense. It
seems more to be an honest question some people had: "What is the meaning of

I believe we agree that EPERWTHSIS would refer to the "act of questioning"
just as ZHTHSIS involves the "act of investigating or discussing a
contentious issue". In the same way EPERWTHMA would refer to the "matter
under questioning" just as ZHTHMA would be the "matter under dispute".

In a Pet 3:21, I and many others find the "appeal" option very unlikely and
unfitting for the context. The "pledge" option is based on scanty papyrus
evidence in legal contexts, and it is questionable, even contentious,
although not impossible. That the obvious choice of taking the word
EPERWTHMA in its normal sense of "question" or "matter under discussion"
(not necessarily dispute) has had little support in the English speaking
world, maybe because you would want to say "issue" instead?

Iver Larsen

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