θύρα in Acts 3:2

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics
Tim Evans
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θύρα in Acts 3:2

Post by Tim Evans » December 12th, 2019, 6:00 pm

I notice that all translations translate θύρα τοῦ ἱεροῦ as "gate" rather than door. It had me wondering why this option was chosen? Is it due to historical understanding of the structure of the temple? My mental image of a "gate" does not align with what I imagine would have been at the entrance of the temple.

1. Strictly thýra is used in the NT for “door,” especially in a house, whether outer door or door into a room (cf. Mk. 1:33; 2:2; Lk. 11:7; Acts 5:19; Jn. 18:16; Mt. 6:6). It may also denote the “gate” of the temple (Acts 3:2; 21:30), and a third use is for the “entrance” to a tomb (Mt. 27:60; Mk. 15:46).
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: θύρα in Acts 3:2

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » December 12th, 2019, 6:38 pm

Where is that definition from? It makes a mistake of taking English as normative, Greek as something to be explained with English glosses. Hence the mental dissonance. What if it's only something like "an entrance which can be opened and closed" and the rest is left to the context?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: θύρα in Acts 3:2

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 12th, 2019, 11:22 pm

BDAG wrote:② a passage for entering a structure, entrance, doorway, gate
ⓐ of the door-like opening of a cave-tomb (cp. Od. 9, 243; SEG VIII, 200, 3 [I A.D., Jerus.]) ἡ θ. τοῦ μνημείου Mt 27:60; Mk 15:46; 16:3. θ. τοῦ μνήματος GPt 8:32; cp. 9:37; 12:53f.—The firm vault of heaven has a ‘door’ (cp. Ps 77:23), which opens to admit favored ones Rv 4:1 (difft., GRinaldi, CBQ 25, ’63, 336–47).
ⓑ In John Jesus calls himself ἡ θύρα J 10:9, thus portraying himself as an opening that permits passage: the gate for the sheep; ἡ θύρα (ὁ ποιμήν P75 et al.) τῶν προβάτων vs. 7, however, has the sense which is prominent in the context, the gate to the sheep (s. Hdb. ad loc.; EFascher, Ich bin d. Thür! Deutsche Theologie ’42, 34–57; 118–33).—Jesus as the θύρα τοῦ πατρός the door to the Father IPhld 9:1.—B. 466. DELG. M-M. EDNT. TW.
Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 462). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
BrillDAG wrote:θῠ́ρα -ας, ἡ IE *dhur-; cf. Lat. forēs, Skt. dúr-aḥ, Goth. daúr, OHG turi, Arm. durkʿ ⓐ door, gate
Montanari, F. (2015). M. Goh & C. Schroeder (Eds.), The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek. Leiden; Boston: Brill.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Tim Evans
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Re: θύρα in Acts 3:2

Post by Tim Evans » December 13th, 2019, 5:26 am

Thanks, I did check 6 dictionaries in Accordance, the definition I copied was arbitrary (they all seemed to say approximately the same thing).

This still doesn't solve the problem of understanding why the bible translations choose gate, rather than door.
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: θύρα in Acts 3:2

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » December 13th, 2019, 6:20 am

That's out of scope for B-Greek forum. We don't discuss the merits or decisions of translations here. By now you already know the semantic range of the Greek word. It may of course be that based on the archeological or historical knowledge the translators have chosen a word which a modern English speaker would use for that kind of construction, but that's not about Koine Greek. Although I won't oppose if someone offers archeological and historical details which enlighten the usage of Koine (or even English).

My viewpoint comes partially from the fact that English isn't my native language. Sometimes this gives me some advantage over those who know only English. It can help me see some problems (or non-problems) when people discuss about Koine in English. I don't care if it's "door" or "gate". For what it's worth, if there's a very large double door in a wall, in my opinion it's a "gate". By the "wall" I mean "wall", not "wall". (Isn't it strange that English doesn't make difference between wall and wall? Like a wall of a house or room, and a wall around a city or building? After all, they are two completely different things :) )
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: θύρα in Acts 3:2

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 13th, 2019, 9:50 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
December 13th, 2019, 6:20 am
That's out of scope for B-Greek forum. We don't discuss the merits or decisions of translations here. By now you already know the semantic range of the Greek word. It may of course be that based on the archeological or historical knowledge the translators have chosen a word which a modern English speaker would use for that kind of construction, but that's not about Koine Greek. Although I won't oppose if someone offers archeological and historical details which enlighten the usage of Koine (or even English).
Probably best to let a moderator make the determination about relevancy. We've traditionally been flexible about this, because sometimes questions about translation help illuminate how the Greek should be read or how it has been historically understand. I will note here that as you say the semantic range of θύρα has been sufficiently established, and that in English traditionally entrance complexes to cities and certain structures (such as palaces and temples) are normally referred to as "gates" even if they have big doorknobs on them... :)
Eeli wrote:My viewpoint comes partially from the fact that English isn't my native language. Sometimes this gives me some advantage over those who know only English. It can help me see some problems (or non-problems) when people discuss about Koine in English. I don't care if it's "door" or "gate". For what it's worth, if there's a very large double door in a wall, in my opinion it's a "gate". By the "wall" I mean "wall", not "wall". (Isn't it strange that English doesn't make difference between wall and wall? Like a wall of a house or room, and a wall around a city or building? After all, they are two completely different things :) )
In Latin you have moenia, typically the walls of the city, mūrus, generally external walls of houses and so forth, and pariēs, generally an internal wall. But they share semantic overlap, and while I don't remember seeing moenia ever for anything but city walls, I have seen mūrus used for both of the others, and pariēs where I would expect mūrus. What does this have to do with Greek? Well, expect native speakers of the language to trash the rules and definitions you treasure from your beginning textbook and don't depend on English glosses...
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Daniel Semler
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Re: θύρα in Acts 3:2

Post by Daniel Semler » December 13th, 2019, 11:10 am

Tim Evans wrote:
December 12th, 2019, 6:00 pm
I notice that all translations translate θύρα τοῦ ἱεροῦ as "gate" rather than door. It had me wondering why this option was chosen? Is it due to historical understanding of the structure of the temple? My mental image of a "gate" does not align with what I imagine would have been at the entrance of the temple.

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1. Strictly thýra is used in the NT for “door,” especially in a house, whether outer door or door into a room (cf. Mk. 1:33; 2:2; Lk. 11:7; Acts 5:19; Jn. 18:16; Mt. 6:6). It may also denote the “gate” of the temple (Acts 3:2; 21:30), and a third use is for the “entrance” to a tomb (Mt. 27:60; Mk. 15:46).
Hi Tim,

For what it's worth I found 4 translations that use door. ASV (which surprised me), BBE, Rotherham and WEB. Your question interested me because it touches issues of how a word is understood to mean what it does. I started thinking about two things, what was the architecture of the temple that makes this word appropriate, and what do I mean when I say gate, or door in English. As Barry notes large solid 'doors' in walls of compounds and such are often called gates. But I still tend to think of a gate commonly as being something with holes in it. So thinking further I wonder if the real distinction is more about the space enclosed - is it open to the sky ? That tends to be when we use gate it seems. Does that accord with the usage here ? Down the architecture route then - the temples are described as having courts, which I take to mean courtyards. Such things can easily have gates. Is that what is meant here ? Of course, to complete this line of thought one needs a first century native of Palestine to describe how they thought about such things but ....

I liked Eeli's comment about wall/wall and it's easy to see a corollary to that in θύρα/θύρα.

thx
D
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Paul-Nitz
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Re: θύρα in Acts 3:2

Post by Paul-Nitz » December 14th, 2019, 10:43 am

I've just been learning more about the prototype theory and its application to lexicology. The idea is that a word has a prototypical meaning from which other meaning radiate. Some of the senses radiating out from that central meaning may have only a family resemblance. Connection to the center becomes fuzzier as one moves conceptually away from that central meaning. So, typical example, a "robin" might be our central sense of "bird." Owls and eagles move further from that center. Ostriches and penguins are way out on the fringes.

Applying that to a word such as θύρα works pretty well. The central meaning seems to be an opening through which things or people can pass, which can be closed, and which was man-made. A house door comes to mind, but it does not exclude a sense further out on the radius, a big double door to a public structure, like a gate to a temple.

I'm finding this way of thinking about words very useful. It's even more useful when we move away from content words to function words or constructions. My first exposure to this was Runge's treatment of καί in Discourse Grammar. I was in heaven.

Giving glosses for content words might not lead a learner too far astray (θύρα is door), but tell them that καί means "and, but" and you've done them a disservice. Imagine being told that παρά means, "from, of, with, before, near, beside, for, by, at; on, along; to."  Same with learning that there were a dozen types of Circumstantial participles.  But learning a central meaning of παρά, or learning the basic function of a circumstantial participle completely opens up the language and takes it on its own terms.
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Brian Gould
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Re: θύρα in Acts 3:2

Post by Brian Gould » December 14th, 2019, 4:04 pm

Paul-Nitz wrote:
December 14th, 2019, 10:43 am
Applying that to a word such as θύρα works pretty well. The central meaning seems to be an opening through which things or people can pass, which can be closed, and which was man-made.
But that could equally well serve as the central meaning of πύλη, couldn’t it? Just as in English it could serve equally well as the central meaning of either “door” or “gate”?

The challenge that @Tim Evans raises in his OP, as I see it, is rather to observe where the semantic range of θύρα overlaps with that of πύλη and then, for the purpose of translation, to compare that with the overlap of the semantic range of “door” and “gate”.
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Brian Gould
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Re: θύρα in Acts 3:2

Post by Brian Gould » December 17th, 2019, 8:35 am

In the Hellenistic world they must have had an architectural feature of the *porte-cochère* kind, along the lines of the one pictured here (link below). The question has to do with the naming of parts. I have little doubt that the two wings of the large double gate (or door) are a pair of πύλαι, but I’m not so sure that the smaller door (or gate) is properly described as a θύρα.

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/imag ... b8o3U08W&s
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