Skip to content

Those Greek words

August 16, 2012

First, read Victoria’s post here at BLT, “Those -oo Verbs.”  Ookay.  Noow we seee hoow it’s aboout Greeek not Engliish.  Rather, Victoria’s post is about “the verb dikaioo … in ordinary Greek.”  Actually, it’s about not those verbs at all but instead about the one:  “δι^και-όω , Ion. impf.”  No, really.  It’s about Catholics and Protestants.  Wrong again.  It’s about Romans and Paul’s intentions and getting that right and N. T. Wright.

I’m being silly.  But really.  What I’m trying to point out is that our reading — our readings together — yield all sorts of interpretations and meanings.  Did I call this hermeneutics?  No, I didn’t.  But somebody might use that Greek word.  Right.  It’s not Greek is it?  Yes, it’s transliteralized Greekish English.  But to talk together, to read and write together, we forgive soo very much.  Or not.

We hold tight to our pronounced understandings.  Second, then, read Theophrastus’s post here at BLT, “Tintin like bin-bin?”  Now we’re not transliteralizing Greek but rather French, or is it Belgian (in which case it must be French, if it’s not Flemish, right), or is it something a native American (from the USA or, perhaps if we’ll allow, from Canada) would say?  Would we allow it “in Anglicised pronunciation” or in written Japanese [in kata-kana only please] as タンタン or in Chinese as 丁丁?  Is this how it sounds?  Or in German it really must change to just Tim, but in Holland he’s Kuifje.  But all that matters less than Greek.  Those Greek words matter more.

Third, then, read Nick Norelli’s post at Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, “Lahgahs vs. Logos.”  See what Theophrastus said there in the comments.  No, really.  What I meant is “Listen to” what Theophrastus “wrote,” the video of different people pronouncing a Greek word differently.  The word?  Yes, that’s right:  λόγος.  It’s λόγος from one of “those -o verbs,” now with an English wiki about it’s etymology.  Oh, and “etymology” is Greek too, not that it matters.  What matters is what Paul meant.  What he wrote, what he said, what he intended.  Didn’t he mean “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”?  Well, the SBL Greek New Testament rendition is ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας.  And the key verb, or logos, in this saying, uh, written phrasing, is orthotomeó.  And if we rightly divide it, etymologically or otherwise, we get one of “those -eo verbs.”  See how important it is to understand how rightly or wrongly divided the Protestants are, or were, from the Catholics?  All over Greek.

So those Greek words.  Fourth, then, read Greek as Hebrew.  That’s right “Genesis.”  Sounds like the beginnings of Aristotle’s “Generation of Animals,” which reads something like “Fifty Shades of Grey Among the Species.”  Sounds like Hesiod’s “Theogony.”  In the Beginning, the Jews translated for the Egyptians for the Greeks.  And quickly we come to these words, those Greek words:

καὶ ἐπίστευσεν Αβραμ τῷ θεῷ,
καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην.

Let’s pronounce them right, divide them right, these words of Truth.

kai episteusen Abram to Theo,
kai elogisThe auto eis dikaiosyne

Immediately, however we said them, we see them now soo clearly as pist words and theo words and Lahgas or Logos words. And of course we see something we must get right (if we’re Martin Luther, before or after his Catholicism and before or after his German Protestantism). We must get right those dikaioo verbs, even in noun forms. Is it righteousness or justice or something else Greeky? What did Paul sooo originally intend by these words, writing them, saying them to the Romans, uh, to the Jews first and then to the Greeks in Rome, in Greek, written in Greek not in Hebrew first or ever in Latin or even in Latinized Englishized transliterations. Oh, that was a question? You missed my question mark, because I forgot to write one. You forgave me, didn’t you?

Fifth, then, read Aristotle’s Rhetoric. It arrives slightly before the Septuagint. And it pronounces all of the words of Genesis soo differently. Pist means proof and Logos means something that Logic fixes. And there’s Dike.

She’s a girl.

What if we might intend something different by her? I mean, really. Justice? Righteousness conferred by Jesus Christ, if we rightly read our Protestant Bibles in English? What did Paul mean by her, according to N. T. Wright, if any Caesar ever read that out loud? She has a “PARENTAGE & FAMILY” as we all know. She has a “PARENTAGE & FAMILY OF DIKE,” and here that is, as much of it as we can take:

Hesiod, Theogony 901 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.):
“Next he [Zeus] led away bright Themis (Divine Law) who bare the Horai (Horae, Seasons), and Eunomia (Good Order), Dike (Justice), and blooming Eirene (Peace), who mind the works of mortal men.”

Pindar, Olympian Ode 13. 6 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.):
Eunomia (Good Order) and that unsullied fountain Dike (Justice), her sister, sure support of cities; and Eirene (Peace) of the same kin, who are the stewards of wealth for mankind–three glorious daughters of wise-counselled Themis (Divine Law).”

Pindar, Pythian Ode 8. 1 ff:
Hesykhia (Hesychia, Tranquility), goddess of friendly intent, daughter of Dike (Justice).”

Aeschylus, Libation Bearers 939 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.):
“In very truth daughter of Zeus . . . we call her Dike (Justice).”

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 659:
Dike (Justice), Zeus’s maiden (parthenos) daughter.”

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 13 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.):
“With Themis, the daughter of Ouranos, he [Zeus] fathered his daughters the Horai, by name Eirene (Peace), Eunomia (Order), and Dike (Justice).”

Orphic Hymn 43 to the Horae (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.):
“Daughters of Zeus and Themis, Horai bright, Dike (Justice), and blessed Eirene (Peace) and Eunomia (Lawfulness) right.”

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 183 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.):
“The names of the Horae, daughters of Jove [Zeus], son of Saturn [Kronos], and Themis, daughter Titanidis, are these: Auxo, Eunomia (Order), Pherusa, Carpo (Fruit), Dice (Justice), Euporia, Irene (Peace), Orthosie, Thallo.”
[N.B. These appear to be three distinct groupings of three Horai.]

That’s all rightly copied, word for word, from here.  Well, I confess to adding a space and making the names into bold font and noticing “Fruit” and “Dice” together as a funny, nearly punny English, coincidence in the last translation where Jove and Saturn appear, Latin or English among the Greek.  And I also confess to liking Pindar’s poem the best among these.  Or to divide the word rightly, I intended to say, or to write, how I like Pindar’s Ode, the Pythian one, best among those Greek words.  But then I really meant to find those Greek words, to do them Justice:

Hesykhia (Hesychia, Tranquility), goddess of friendly intent, daughter of Dike (Justice).”

Pay attention to the intent, the friendliness intended, born of rightness this tranquility.

Here’s how Diane Arnson Svarlien does them Justice, has made them right, those Greek words:

Kindly Peace, daughter of Justice, you who make cities great, holding the supreme keys of counsels and of wars, receive this honor due to Aristomenes for his Pythian victory. For you know both how to give and how to receive gentleness, with precise timing.

φιλόφρον Ἡσυχία, Δίκας
ὦ μεγιστόπολι θύγατερ,
βουλᾶν τε καὶ πολέμων
ἔχοισα κλαῗδας ὑπερτάτας,
Πυθιόνικον τιμὰν Ἀριστομένει δέκευ.
τὺ γὰρ τὸ μαλθακὸν ἔρξαι
τε καὶ παθεῖν ὁμῶς
ἐπίστασαι καιρῷ σὺν ἀτρεκεῖ:

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Richard Hendricks permalink
    August 16, 2012 11:03 am

    You lost me. What’s your point?

  2. August 16, 2012 11:48 am

    Ha, Richard. Thanks for trying to get the point. I’m trying to play with language to show something serious. “What I’m trying to point out is that our reading — our readings together — yield all sorts of interpretations and meanings.” Some of our readings are funny. And I mean funny ambiguously. When we let ourselves, we can laugh at the ways we use language. On the other hand, when we’re really serious, we use words to determine our meanings too often, and not the other way around.

    I don’t like how Roman Catholic scholar William Most uses δικαιόω to correct “Protestants” when we writes: “As to that verb dikaioo, other verbs that have the -oo ending mean to make one to be what the root indicates.” And Victoria blogs this, and others comment (me included), and the conversation then tends to reduce to what correct/ incorrect theological meanings of the word there must / must not be. The conversation seems to reduce to the first meaning, or the Pauline intentional Romans epistle meaning, the Protestant / Catholic meaning, the Luther(an) meaning, the N.T. Wright meaning, the Orthodox meaning, and who has it right and who, by implication, therefore must have it wrong. I don’t like the abstraction. I don’t like “that verb dikaioo” as the re-presentation of what Paul wrote or of what Pindar wrote.

    So, when we come to Romans 4, we come to Paul. Same when we come to Galatians 3. When we come to James 2:23, we come to what Jakov, the alleged brother of Jesus, and we come to what this “James” wrote allegedly to the Jews in the diaspora. (Or can we pronounce his name, Yaʿăqōḇ?) When we come to the Septuagint, we come to Genesis 15:6, Greek not far from the Hebrew and maybe not far from Aristotle’s Greek either. We come to the Septuagint because it seems Paul and James did. But the Septuagint is not just a Christian Bible, is it? It’s certainly a Jewish translation of the Hebrew scriptures, for what purposes? I’m not sure we can be sure. My point is that this (“those -oo verbs”) may have nothing whatsoever to do with William Most’s or Martin Luther’s interpretations. My blog post above here is more to try to illustrate that than to try to directly engage in it. The conversation gets reduced to right/ wrong meanings that tend to re-enforce my own background beliefs. I was trying something else with my essay, my blogpost. And isn’t an essai most an attempt, a try, a trial, an experiment? I am trying to open up the conversation in another direction or set of directions.

  3. August 16, 2012 8:10 pm

    What fun! 🙂

    What struck me was Peace as the daughter of Justice. And here I thought “No Justice, No Peace” was a new idea!


  1. Pindar’s Poetry: Pythian 8 (Englished) « BLT

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: