συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

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Robert S. Daniel
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συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

Post by Robert S. Daniel » June 1st, 2020, 8:17 am

Hi, I hope everybody had a spirit-filled Pentecost Sunday. I bet you can't guess what the sermon was about in my church.

I have a proposal for the exegesis of Acts 2.6:
γενομένης δὲ τῆς φωνῆς ταύτης συνῆλθεν τὸ πλῆθος καὶ συνεχύθη ὅτι ἤκουον εἷς ἕκαστος τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλέκτῳ λαλούντων αὐτῶν

I would like to ask for your feedback on whether you find my exegesis convincing, and whether it is original. I know that I thought of this myself, so it is original in that sense, but maybe 300 other people have already thought of it as well. I haven't found any translations that are based on this exegesis, though.

The basic idea is that συνεχύθη might be understood in this passage in the sense of the people in the crowd mixing together, as opposed to being "mixed up" in their thinking, that is, perplexed, confused, puzzled, or whatever your favorite Englishization of this might be.

As you might guess, I'm going to play this passage off against the story of the πύργον τῆς συγχύσεως in Genesis 11. It is commonly noted that the two stories are related. I believe that it is also commonly noted that the single word συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6 forms a verbal link to the three occurrences in Genesis 11:7-9:
δεῦτε καὶ καταβάντες συγχέωμεν ἐκεῗ αὐτῶν τὴν γλῶσσαν ἵνα μὴ ἀκούσωσιν ἕκαστος τὴν φωνὴν τοῦ πλησίον
καὶ διέσπειρεν αὐτοὺς κύριος ἐκεῗθεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον πάσης τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐπαύσαντο οἰκοδομοῦντες τὴν πόλιν καὶ τὸν πύργον
διὰ τοῦτο ἐκλήθη τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς Σύγχυσις ὅτι ἐκεῗ συνέχεεν κύριος τὰ χείλη πάσης τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐκεῗθεν διέσπειρεν αὐτοὺς κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ πρόσωπον πάσης τῆς γῆς

I get three occurrences by counting the verb form and the noun as the same word. What I really mean is that they have the same root of course, so it would be technically more accurate to say that there are three occurrences of words with that common root. Part of my point is that the repetition gives the word more prominence, and especially the fact that the name of the place is called Σύγχυσις rather than Babel as in the Hebrew. So this suggests that Luke uses the word συνεχύθη "with malice aforethought" as they say.

I think that all of this is common knowledge, as well as the notion that Acts 2 represents a reversal of the Genesis 11 mixing-up of the languages followed by the dispersion of the people. So in Genesis 11 the order of these events is represented by the order of the verb phrases συγχέωμεν ἐκεῗ αὐτῶν τὴν γλῶσσαν followed by διέσπειρεν αὐτοὺς κύριος ἐκεῗθεν. In Acts the implied order of events is ἡμεῖς ἀκούομεν ἕκαστος τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλέκτῳ ἡμῶν ἐν ᾗ ἐγεννήθημεν followed by συνῆλθεν τὸ πλῆθος followed by συνεχύθη τὸ πλῆθος. I say this is the implied order of events because it is different from the order in which the verbs occur in the telling of the story. So there is a parallel construction with the implied order of events in reverse. In Genesis, the languages are mixed up followed by the people being dispersed; in Acts it is the mix-up of languages being overcome by the work of the Holy Spirit followed by the people coming together and mixing together.

The mixing of the Jews who have come ἀπὸ παντὸς ἔθνους τῶν ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανόν is, in this light, highly significant as it represents a foreshadowing of all the Gentiles coming together by being united in one spirit.

So my conclusion is that the phrase συνεχύθη τὸ πλῆθος should be translated with the sense of the multitude of people of different tongues mixing together.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 1st, 2020, 1:29 pm

Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 8:17 am
So my conclusion is that the phrase συνεχύθη τὸ πλῆθος should be translated with the sense of the multitude of people of different tongues mixing together.
Are you saying that when they each heard the believers speaking in their own language, that caused them to mix together? Why? That doesn't make sense to me.
Acts 2:6 wrote: γενομένης δὲ τῆς φωνῆς ταύτης συνῆλθεν τὸ πλῆθος καὶ συνεχύθη, ὅτι ἤκουον εἷς ἕκαστος τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλέκτῳ λαλούντων αὐτῶν.
If anything, I would expect them to move into separate places where they can each hear in their own language, not to mix together into one group. For Old Testament usage, I'd start with a careful look at the verses in the Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint.
Johan Lust, Karin Hauspie, Erik Eynikel wrote:συγχέω + V 2-3-6-0-6-17 Genesis 11:7,9; 1 Samuel 7:10; 1 Kings 8:35; 20:21 [5] A: to confound [τι] Gn 11,7; to demolish [τι] Am 3,15 P: to be thrown into confusion Na 2,5; to be confounded, to be troubled, to be amazed (of pers.) 1 Sm 7,10; to be confounded, to be shaken (of the earth) Jl 2,10
In Genesis 7:9, how do you interpret the second use of the word?
Gen 7:9 wrote:διὰ τοῦτο ἐκλήθη τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς Σύγχυσις, ὅτι ἐκεῖ συνέχεεν κύριος τὰ χείλη πάσης τῆς γῆς, καὶ ἐκεῖθεν διέσπειρεν αὐτοὺς κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ πρόσωπον πάσης τῆς γῆς.
Here are the places the LXX uses the verb:

GEN 11:7
GEN 11:9
1SA 7:10
1KI 21:43
JOL 2:1
JOL 2:10
AMO 3:15
JON 4:1
MIC 7:17
NAM 2:5
WIS 10:5
1MA 4:27
2MA 10:30
2MA 13:23
2MA 14:28
PSS 12:3

For the New Testament, here's what Louw & Nida have to say:
Louw & Nida wrote:συγχέω ‎or συγχύννω 25.221 ‎- Attitudes and Emotions (25) ‎- Surprise, Astonish (25.206-25.222) (figurative extensions of meaning of συγχέω or συγχύννω to pour together, to mix, not occurring in the NT) to cause such astonishment as to bewilder and dismay ‎- to cause consternation, to confound
συνέχυννεν τοὺς Ἰουδαίους τοὺς κατοικοῦντας ἐν Δαμασκῷ he caused consternation among the Jews living in Damascus Acts 9:22; συνέχεον πάντα τὸν ὄχλον they threw the whole crowd into consternation Acts 21:27. It is also possible to render this expression in Acts 21:27 as they stirred up the whole crowd.
Here are the places it is used in the New Testament:

ACT 2:6
ACT 9:22
ACT 19:32
ACT 21:27
ACT 21:31
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Robert S. Daniel
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Re: συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

Post by Robert S. Daniel » June 2nd, 2020, 12:37 pm

Hi, thanks for your comments. I don't think I'll try to respond to all of them in one post, but if you're willing I'd like to have a conversation about it.

First, though, would you mind telling me how to cut and paste with the yellowish background like you guys are doing?

I am saying that when the people present heard what they heard, it astonished them, and that is what caused them to come together - that is the συνῆλθεν part - and maybe the inertia of their movement caused the mixing. But this isn't clearly expressed in the text itself. I'm hearing that partly because I'm hearing this against the background of the LXX story. In that story, the confusion of the tongues causes the dispersion of the people, that is, separation into the various linguistic groups. And I'm hearing this story as a reversal of that. So the de-confusion of the tongues (or lips) causes the coming together followed by the mixing together. I think that it is the verbal linkage of the word συγχέω that is meant by the author to encourage us to read it that way. That is a literary interpretation, so if that means that this is out of bounds for this forum then we should just drop it. I don't want to break the rules. But the literary interpretation depends on the Greek text, and doesn't come across in translation. I think that the Greek text supports this reading, I don't think I'm mangling the text by imposing something foreign on it. Difference of language creates barriers, overcoming difference of language overcomes those barriers. Overcoming barriers between peoples is a major theme of the NT.

In the passage quoted as Gen 7:9 - actually it is 11:9, I interpret the word συνέχεεν as meaning causing confusion. In English we have the phrase "to mix up" and I take συγχέω to be a similar construction. The primary meaning comes from χέω, meaning to pour. But the usage in the Genesis passage is a metaphorical extension of that primary meaning, just as when we say that somebody is "mixed up" we don't literally mean that any mixing has been done. The word "confuse" comes from Latin and has a similar etymology. The primary sense would be "fused (or melted?) together" but it has multiple senses, as do most words, that are often related by metaphorical extension. That term comes from the linguist George Lakoff. I think this is what the quote from Louw & Nida is saying also, that the sense of confusion is a figurative (same thing as metaphorical) extension of the primary meaning of pouring together. When they say that that sense doesn't occur in the NT, I'm disagreeing with that because here it is in Acts 2.

I would further suggest that if you have a difficult time hearing the sense of συγχέω that I am hearing, maybe that is because you read this passage in the English translation long before you ever learned Greek. Hearing it in English gives us biases that we may have a hard time shaking off even after we have learned to read in Greek. But that is the whole point of learning Greek, to be able to hear what the Greek text is saying, rather than an interpretation that has been imposed by a translator. I don't mean that to be a dis on you or anybody else. The same thing applies to me. Talking to you about this is part of my process of getting to hear the original Greek better myself. As Peter says, scripture isn't a matter of one's own interpretation. It should be a community effort. I have a hard time finding a community of Greek readers here in Podunk (actually Fort Collins) and so that is why I look to BGreek. That is a valuable service BGreek can provide. It is valuable to me, anyway.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 2nd, 2020, 4:59 pm

Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 12:37 pm
First, though, would you mind telling me how to cut and paste with the yellowish background like you guys are doing?
Use the "quote" button up above in the editing window. Or when you first reply to a post, reply using the quote button in the upper right of the message.
Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 12:37 pm
In the passage quoted as Gen 7:9 - actually it is 11:9, I interpret the word συνέχεεν as meaning causing confusion. In English we have the phrase "to mix up" and I take συγχέω to be a similar construction. The primary meaning comes from χέω, meaning to pour. But the usage in the Genesis passage is a metaphorical extension of that primary meaning, just as when we say that somebody is "mixed up" we don't literally mean that any mixing has been done. The word "confuse" comes from Latin and has a similar etymology. The primary sense would be "fused (or melted?) together" but it has multiple senses, as do most words, that are often related by metaphorical extension. That term comes from the linguist George Lakoff.
I agree with you - and I like your use of "mixed up" and "confuse" here. I hadn't thought of that. I like Lakoff, and metaphorical extension is something a bunch of us are familiar with.
Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 12:37 pm
I think this is what the quote from Louw & Nida is saying also, that the sense of confusion is a figurative (same thing as metaphorical) extension of the primary meaning of pouring together. When they say that that sense doesn't occur in the NT, I'm disagreeing with that because here it is in Acts 2.
Well, that's the question, isn't it?

Sometimes the original, once-primary meaning gets lost. In English, most of us have lost the original primary meaning of the word "confused", the original primary meaning of "mixed up" is still available to us, but we are more likely to say "mixed" instead of "mixed up" if that's what we mean in order to avoid confusion. Pun intended. I rarely hear someone say "he mixed up a drink". And of course, the phrase "mix it up" has nothing to do with being "mixed up".
Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 12:37 pm
I would further suggest that if you have a difficult time hearing the sense of συγχέω that I am hearing, maybe that is because you read this passage in the English translation long before you ever learned Greek. Hearing it in English gives us biases that we may have a hard time shaking off even after we have learned to read in Greek. But that is the whole point of learning Greek, to be able to hear what the Greek text is saying, rather than an interpretation that has been imposed by a translator.
Again, that's the question. If you grew up in Galilee 2,000 years ago speaking Hellenistic Greek, then I will take your word for it. If not, you and I are both modern English speakers on a forum trying to figure out what was natural in biblical Greek. We are in exactly the same position as a foreigner looking at a text about "mixing up" a drink, trying to decide if it is a joke or not. Because Hellenistic Greek is not our native language, we need some humility and patience and as much useful data as we can find.

Along the way, it's not helpful to suggest that someone else can't see it because they aren't thinking in Greek. We're all developing notions of what it means to think in Greek based on the texts we read and our growing experience with the language. We stumble through the terrain, when we meet another traveler, we compare maps.
Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 12:37 pm
I am saying that when the people present heard what they heard, it astonished them, and that is what caused them to come together - that is the συνῆλθεν part - and maybe the inertia of their movement caused the mixing. But this isn't clearly expressed in the text itself. I'm hearing that partly because I'm hearing this against the background of the LXX story. In that story, the confusion of the tongues causes the dispersion of the people, that is, separation into the various linguistic groups. And I'm hearing this story as a reversal of that.

But the literary interpretation depends on the Greek text, and doesn't come across in translation. I think that the Greek text supports this reading, I don't think I'm mangling the text by imposing something foreign on it. Difference of language creates barriers, overcoming difference of language overcomes those barriers. Overcoming barriers between peoples is a major theme of the NT.
To me, it's a stretch to say that the word has one meaning in Genesis and the opposite meaning in Acts when there is no signal in Acts to tell me that. It would be more convincing if you showed me other uses from that time period where it has that meaning in similar construcitons.

The way I read it, there are really two different steps in this progression, each signaled by an aorist indicative verb:

1. γενομένης δὲ τῆς φωνῆς ταύτης συνῆλθεν τὸ πλῆθος
2. καὶ συνεχύθη, ὅτι ἤκουον εἷς ἕκαστος τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλέκτῳ λαλούντων αὐτῶν.

To me, the steps are:

1. They hear the sound and gather together as a crowd
2. They are bewildered that they each hear them speaking in their own language

As I visualize this, I am also influenced by verse 4:
Acts 2:4 wrote:γενομένης δὲ τῆς φωνῆς ταύτης συνῆλθεν τὸ πλῆθος καὶ συνεχύθη, ὅτι ἤκουον εἷς ἕκαστος τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλέκτῳ λαλούντων αὐτῶν.
This seems to be individuals each speaking in other languages by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not one voice that each person in the crowd hears in their own language. At any rate, I don't see anything in the text that suggests your proposed meaning, even if I assume that the Tower of Babel story is implied here. If anything, I would expect the word to have the same meaning it had in that earlier account.
Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 12:37 pm
As Peter says, scripture isn't a matter of one's own interpretation. It should be a community effort. I have a hard time finding a community of Greek readers here in Podunk (actually Fort Collins) and so that is why I look to BGreek. That is a valuable service BGreek can provide. It is valuable to me, anyway.
We're glad to have you here. And Fort Collins is a nice place, I had a friend there.
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Robert S. Daniel
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Re: συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

Post by Robert S. Daniel » June 3rd, 2020, 7:28 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 4:59 pm
Sometimes the original, once-primary meaning gets lost. In English, most of us have lost the original primary meaning of the word "confused", the original primary meaning of "mixed up" is still available to us, but we are more likely to say "mixed" instead of "mixed up" if that's what we mean in order to avoid confusion. Pun intended. I rarely hear someone say "he mixed up a drink". And of course, the phrase "mix it up" has nothing to do with being "mixed up".
You are right that the original meaning of a word can get lost. Lakoff says something like that. Etymology isn't a key to present meaning, or something to that effect. But the entry for συγχέω in Little Liddel starts with "to pour together, mix by pouring: hence …" I'm not sure what they mean to imply by the "...:hence..." construction, but I took it to mean that the original meaning is still in use. Presumably their definitions are based on a survey of literature. In any case, χέω and derivatives like εκχέω are still current, so I don't think it would have been too much of a stretch for a Koine speaker to retrieve the original meaning of συγχέω when the occasion, or literary context, called for it.
Jonathan Robie wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 4:59 pm
To me, it's a stretch to say that the word has one meaning in Genesis and the opposite meaning in Acts when there is no signal in Acts to tell me that.
I don't know if I'm saying exactly that the word has an opposite meaning, just that it has multiple meanings (polysemy is the fancy word for that) and Acts is using a different one of those than the Genesis passages. But "opposite" might actually be a good word for it in that Acts is depicting a reversal of all that came before. As I mentioned before, the Kingdom of God represents a reversal of the order of the present age. But also note that it is tongues/lips that are being confused in Genesis 11, but the crowd - πλῆθος - that is being "mixed up" in Acts 2. Mixing of a crowd of people is exactly what it says, and I'm taking it to mean exactly that. So the verb is being predicated of two different things in the two different passages, and I don't see why it would be unusual for it to mean something different when applied to two different subjects.
Jonathan Robie wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 4:59 pm
The way I read it, there are really two different steps in this progression, each signaled by an aorist indicative verb:

1. γενομένης δὲ τῆς φωνῆς ταύτης συνῆλθεν τὸ πλῆθος
2. καὶ συνεχύθη, ὅτι ἤκουον εἷς ἕκαστος τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλέκτῳ λαλούντων αὐτῶν.
I think it would be more natural to put the division at the word ὅτι because that marks the beginning of the dependent clause. So in that case, συνῆλθεν and συνεχύθη are grouped together. It is all part of one motion, people at all the different corners of the room coming together and mixing in the middle, just like they have come from all the corners of the earth to come together in Jerusalem.
Jonathan Robie wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 4:59 pm
Again, that's the question. If you grew up in Galilee 2,000 years ago speaking Hellenistic Greek, then I will take your word for it. If not, you and I are both modern English speakers on a forum trying to figure out what was natural in biblical Greek. We are in exactly the same position as a foreigner looking at a text about "mixing up" a drink, trying to decide if it is a joke or not. Because Hellenistic Greek is not our native language, we need some humility and patience and as much useful data as we can find.

Along the way, it's not helpful to suggest that someone else can't see it because they aren't thinking in Greek. We're all developing notions of what it means to think in Greek based on the texts we read and our growing experience with the language. We stumble through the terrain, when we meet another traveler, we compare maps.
You are absolutely right that we are a long way from Galilee both in physical distance and in language. But so were the people who translated the Bible into European languages. Individually we need to have the humility to take that to heart, but as the church we need to also have the humility to realize that people like Luther and Tyndale probably didn't totally nail it, and there is still work we can do to get closer to the text and to what the authors of that text meant to express through it. One way to do that is by learning more about word usage at the time. But language has a lot of flexibility and there are literary effects that need to be taken into account as well. The Bible makes much use of allusion, often by means of one- or two-word coincidences between the passage that makes an allusion and the passage alluded to. I'm suggesting that here in Acts 2, the word συγχέω functions that way, and so I'm trying to understand it in that context. Part of that context is the context of the whole book of Acts, and that is within the whole context of the entire Bible. So word usage in Koine times is only part of the issue.

I'd also like to suggest that looking at the text from various angles and via various lenses is helpful. I hope to be able to maintain the humility to say that the way I'm suggesting we might look at this passage isn't the final truth, it is more like "look and see". There are other ways to look at it too. Maybe one of those ways is ultimately the correct one, but now we have only partial knowledge, as Paul says.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 3rd, 2020, 11:25 am

Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 3rd, 2020, 7:28 am
You are absolutely right that we are a long way from Galilee both in physical distance and in language. But so were the people who translated the Bible into European languages. Individually we need to have the humility to take that to heart, but as the church we need to also have the humility to realize that people like Luther and Tyndale probably didn't totally nail it, and there is still work we can do to get closer to the text and to what the authors of that text meant to express through it. One way to do that is by learning more about word usage at the time. But language has a lot of flexibility and there are literary effects that need to be taken into account as well. The Bible makes much use of allusion, often by means of one- or two-word coincidences between the passage that makes an allusion and the passage alluded to. I'm suggesting that here in Acts 2, the word συγχέω functions that way, and so I'm trying to understand it in that context. Part of that context is the context of the whole book of Acts, and that is within the whole context of the entire Bible. So word usage in Koine times is only part of the issue.

I'd also like to suggest that looking at the text from various angles and via various lenses is helpful. I hope to be able to maintain the humility to say that the way I'm suggesting we might look at this passage isn't the final truth, it is more like "look and see". There are other ways to look at it too. Maybe one of those ways is ultimately the correct one, but now we have only partial knowledge, as Paul says.
Not a bad discussion at all. A couple of comments:

1) Robert, in the "what it's worth" category, I've always read the text the way you have. Not sure why, just have. However, I think I'm wrong, mainly because the ὅτι clause doesn't really explain if the meaning "jumbled together" is intended. Jerome has:

facta autem hac voce convenit multitudo et mente confusa est...

Now if he had just written "confusa est" it would have been the same as the Greek, but no, he had to add "mente" (in mind), so no joy there.

2) For the record, Greek is a European language.

3) (Okay, some comments -- I majored in ancient languages because I couldn't do math). As modern (post modern) folks engaging in ancient languages without a living linguaculture, we will never be fluent native speakers. We can come pretty darn close, I think, if we read lots of the literature and really engage with the language and not just use it as a tool to decode one ancient text. Additionally, we have to depend on how the ancients themselves read things, which is why I cited Jerome above, who had experience with ancient Greek as a living language, with none of that pesky English to get in his way. The application for us is to hold our conclusions tentatively when it comes to controversial stuff (at least 95% is not controversial. Nobody is going to argue about what Ἰησοῦς πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς εἶπεν "really" means...). That way we can present our arguments effectively while at the same time being willing to learn. Not accusing you or anybody here of anything, just thoughts inspired by the discussion.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 4th, 2020, 10:23 am

Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 3rd, 2020, 7:28 am
Jonathan Robie wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 4:59 pm
Sometimes the original, once-primary meaning gets lost. In English, most of us have lost the original primary meaning of the word "confused", the original primary meaning of "mixed up" is still available to us, but we are more likely to say "mixed" instead of "mixed up" if that's what we mean in order to avoid confusion. Pun intended. I rarely hear someone say "he mixed up a drink". And of course, the phrase "mix it up" has nothing to do with being "mixed up".
You are right that the original meaning of a word can get lost. Lakoff says something like that. Etymology isn't a key to present meaning, or something to that effect. But the entry for συγχέω in Little Liddel starts with "to pour together, mix by pouring: hence …" I'm not sure what they mean to imply by the "...:hence..." construction, but I took it to mean that the original meaning is still in use. Presumably their definitions are based on a survey of literature. In any case, χέω and derivatives like εκχέω are still current, so I don't think it would have been too much of a stretch for a Koine speaker to retrieve the original meaning of συγχέω when the occasion, or literary context, called for it.
Back to this part of the conversation - the Little Liddel is not a lexicon of Hellenistic Greek, it includes everything from Homer on up in the Classical corpus. If you want to see what references it mentions, the Great Scott lists some of that, you can see the entry here:

https://logeion.uchicago.edu/συγχέω

It would be interesting to look at those references and get a feeling for whether the original literal meaning is still prominent in the Hellenistic period. FWIW, you can also look up how individual writers use a word. For instance:

συγχέω in Josephus
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Robert S. Daniel
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Re: συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

Post by Robert S. Daniel » June 5th, 2020, 12:19 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
June 4th, 2020, 10:23 am

Back to this part of the conversation - the Little Liddel is not a lexicon of Hellenistic Greek, it includes everything from Homer on up in the Classical corpus. If you want to see what references it mentions, the Great Scott lists some of that, you can see the entry here:

https://logeion.uchicago.edu/συγχέω

It would be interesting to look at those references and get a feeling for whether the original literal meaning is still prominent in the Hellenistic period. FWIW, you can also look up how individual writers use a word. For instance:

συγχέω in Josephus
Hi Jonathan, thanks for the suggestion. I'll take a look at Great Scott when I get a chance. I'm learning a lot from you guys!

Thanks to Barry, also. There are a few things I'd like to go into in your reply, but I'm afraid it might be considered off topic. One would be how reliable Jerome can be considered as a translator. He's famous for at least one blunder in the case of Exodus 34. I wonder why he wouldn't have checked the LXX translation of those passages, which were correct.

Another point I'd like to make with both of you guys, that also might be considered off-topic, so I'll just mention it. It is that authors aren't necessarily constrained by established usage of a word. They can bring new meanings into words (or resurrect dead meanings, I would think). I've been thinking about some examples of that. Sometimes those new meanings enter the language as permanent fixtures and sometimes not. Is there any way we can talk about that a little without violating BGreek policy?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 6th, 2020, 5:01 pm

Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 5th, 2020, 12:19 pm
Another point I'd like to make with both of you guys, that also might be considered off-topic, so I'll just mention it. It is that authors aren't necessarily constrained by established usage of a word. They can bring new meanings into words (or resurrect dead meanings, I would think). I've been thinking about some examples of that. Sometimes those new meanings enter the language as permanent fixtures and sometimes not. Is there any way we can talk about that a little without violating BGreek policy?
Yes, I think so. We can certainly discuss how words are used in any given passage or in a given period (by looking at specific passages). We can look at the way meaning of a word evolves over time. Reading an entire passage as a passage to get its context is always in scope. Metaphorical extensions and cognitive linguistics are in scope.

In general, we want to avoid letting doctrine or theory impose themselves on the text, we would rather let the text tell us what it says. B-Greek policy is meant to encourage that. But there are times to bring other things in to inform the meaning of a text. I dodged your question of literary analysis earlier in this thread. Phenomenological analysis or other text-centric literary analysis would be fine, but there are also forms of literary analysis that are driven by one "ism" or another, we try to avoid those here. If you use text-centric approaches to get at the meaning of the text, you don't normally need to tell us the mechanics of the approach you used or use fancy words, just tell us the details you notice in the text.

Does that make sense?

The main goal is to:

1. Focus on the text and the language
2. Avoid useless debates and read carefully together
3. Focus on learning together and not on status or impressing each other
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: συνεχύθη in Acts 2.6

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 7th, 2020, 10:05 am

Robert S. Daniel wrote:
June 5th, 2020, 12:19 pm


Thanks to Barry, also. There are a few things I'd like to go into in your reply, but I'm afraid it might be considered off topic. One would be how reliable Jerome can be considered as a translator. He's famous for at least one blunder in the case of Exodus 34. I wonder why he wouldn't have checked the LXX translation of those passages, which were correct.
I can't speak to any alleged "blunder" in Exodus 34 unless I know what it is. I will note that the NT was written in Greek, not Hebrew (spoiler!) and that Jerome had both a rhetorical education which would have included a massive amount of Greek and likely was conversant also in the λογὸς καθημερινός. No, ancient translations are not above criticism, but individuals such as Jerome had high fluency in the languages and need to be taken seriously when they give us clues as to how they read the text. Jerome also was one of the few scholars in ancient times who actually wrote on translation theory, so to a certain extent he had a meta-perspective on the subject.
Another point I'd like to make with both of you guys, that also might be considered off-topic, so I'll just mention it. It is that authors aren't necessarily constrained by established usage of a word. They can bring new meanings into words (or resurrect dead meanings, I would think). I've been thinking about some examples of that. Sometimes those new meanings enter the language as permanent fixtures and sometimes not. Is there any way we can talk about that a little without violating BGreek policy?
Of course, but these sorts of things are almost always determinable by context. "New meanings" are what our linguists usually call pragmatic extension, and resurrecting "dead meanings" are most often found in literary contexts, so when reading Apollonius' Argonautica, whose writing is in the epic style, expect words to be used as Homer or Hesiod might have used them (with some interesting anachronisms for further entertainment). In the meantime, we have only documentary sources for positive evidence since we don't have the linguaculture into which those documents were written.
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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.

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