its all greek to me → ἀγαπήσεις... σεαυτόν

How do I work out the meaning of a Greek text? How can I best understand the forms and vocabulary in this particular text?
Forum rules
This is a beginner's forum - see the Koine Greek forum for more advanced discussion of Greek texts. Please quote the Greek text you are discussing directly in your post if it is reasonably short - do not ask people to look it up.

When answering questions in this forum, keep it simple, and aim your responses to the level of the person asking the question.
Post Reply
Marvin
Posts: 4
Joined: April 7th, 2021, 1:53 am

its all greek to me → ἀγαπήσεις... σεαυτόν

Post by Marvin »

in other words - I haven't got a clue.

I try to gain a better understanding of the phrase of love thy neighbour like thyself, understanding it to mean those who you call your own. After all, the ultimate sign of love to give your life for oneself does not make sense but you can give your life for thyself. This is supported by the translation provided in the bible hub stating σεαυτὸν to mean "of yourself". Thus I wonder what the difference of the left or right leaning acccent over the o reflects.
Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 2036
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: its all greek to me

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Here is the Greek of the second greatest commandment from Mark 12:

Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.

I'm not sure exactly what you are asking, but notice σεαυτόν is what we call reflexive. It's the direct object of the verb ἀγαπήσεις. The correct translation is "You will love your neighbor as (you love) yourself." As for the accent, it has no effect on meaning whatsoever. They were invented (actually in ancient times) as a guide to correct pronunciation.

So it cannot mean "those you call your own." In the broader context, you might want to think about how "neighbor" is defined.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
Marvin
Posts: 4
Joined: April 7th, 2021, 1:53 am

Re: its all greek to me

Post by Marvin »

thanks

Imagesuggest "of yourself which would make sense in several ways.

For one the text is addressed to several, so I would expect it to be a plural as in third person speak. Considering that narcissism wasn't very trendy in those times I would expect that the point of reference for you love would be towards the ultimate act of love which would be to lay down your life for "thyself" the ones you love which does not work for oneself.

As the word is used as σεαυτὸν instead of σεαυτόν as in 19:18in for example in Mathew 4:6 I wondered if there might be more info in the accent
Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 2036
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: its all greek to me

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Marvin wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:23 pm thanks

Imagesuggest "of yourself which would make sense in several ways.

For one the text is addressed to several, so I would expect it to be a plural as in third person speak. Considering that narcissism wasn't very trendy in those times I would expect that the point of reference for you love would be towards the ultimate act of love which would be to lay down your life for "thyself" the ones you love which does not work for oneself.

As the word is used as σεαυτὸν instead of σεαυτόν as in 19:18in for example in Mathew 4:6 I wondered if there might be more info in the accent
First of all, it will help you greatly if you studied the language, systematically from the beginning, which you show every sign of not having done. Secondly, I told you before that the accent provides here no additional information. And why do you expect the verb to be 3rd plural? It's plainly second singular. You have to deal with the actual facts of the language, not just what you might expect it to be. σεαυτόν is reflexive. It says what it says and any honest reader of the text will affirm it. You appear to be reading the text in the light of your idea that "narcissism wasn't very trendy." Perhaps (though not in the broader Greco-Roman culture) but you still have to deal with what the text actually says and not what you want it to mean.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
Jason Hare
Posts: 763
Joined: June 2nd, 2011, 5:28 pm
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Contact:

Re: its all greek to me

Post by Jason Hare »

There's an ellipsis here by which ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν means:

ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς [ἀγαπᾷς] σεαυτόν.
Love your neighbor as [you love] yourself.

No information is encoded in the accent itself. I'm not sure what information you think is encoded there. If you learn the noun/adjective declensions systematically, you will see that they simply fall in certain patterns. It's mostly about word stress and vowel lengths. It has nothing to do with meaning (except in very few cases, like τί versus τι—and there is a list of such words in which the accent makes a difference, like in the words que and qué in Spanish). The difference, essentially, is that σεαυτὸν is used within a sentence, whereas σεαυτόν is used before punctuation (period, comma, semicolon, question mark) or before an enclitic (a word, like τι that loses its accent to the word that comes before it).

There are online groups for learning Greek all over the place. Would you like some advice on how to begin learning the language?
Jason A. Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel
Jason Hare
Posts: 763
Joined: June 2nd, 2011, 5:28 pm
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Contact:

Re: its all greek to me

Post by Jason Hare »

Given that this thread is under "Introductions," perhaps we should curtail any further discussion about this question and put it under "Beginners."

I'll go ahead and do that.
Jason A. Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel
Post Reply

Return to “What does this text mean?”