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  1. Fictionquest permalink
    October 23, 2013 12:15 am

    would you suppose that euphonie may be the key to these frozen phrases, To illustrate; soud and body does not roll off the tongue in the same way body and soul does. Would you not think that †he spoken that is, the oral, the shouted aloud language has music that we appreciate and feel in the same way we understand a heartbeat or a stroll down the street. Do you see what I mean?

  2. October 23, 2013 12:53 am

    Beautiful, Kurk!

    Help us out a little – could you please transliterate that frozen phrase in Greek and Hebrew? And are there any English cognates of those Greek words?

    Third, it should be obvious that reversing the nouns in any of these frozen phrases makes for a very odd sound. Fourth, written English reinforces, further freezes, what sounds right. To illustrate, we might use the google ngram viewer…

    A few years ago, I started deliberately using the phrases “women and men” and (especially in a religious context)”sisters and brothers“, as a small feminist act… and apparently I wasn’t the only one. I’ve been doing it long enough now that the “normal” phrasing often sounds odd to me.

    Knowing that Aquinas was hugely influenced by Aristotle… would he have been influenced by the pseudo-Aristotle text you cite, do you happen to know? (or does one of our readers?) Given how central Aquinas is to Roman Catholic theology, this is an interesting question.

    On what grounds do you conclude that Paul is being more Hebrew/relational than Greek/dichotomous in Gal 3:28? It looks to me as if he’s deliberately invoking a set of hierarchically understood opposites, which seems more Greeky based on your argument.

    I’ve seen a number of arguments that rest heavily on that “and”/kai rather than “or”/oude(?) in the male/female pair. You’ve argued fairly convincingly that this phrase is a “frozen phrase”: how do the other phrases (greek and Jew, slave and free) look according to the same analysis?

  3. October 23, 2013 7:29 am

    Yes, I feel you are absolutely right that there’s a particular euphony that keeps the phrases frozen at certain times for us writers and readers and speakers and listeners. With your example of “body and soul” and “soul and body” there seems to have been a shift at different points in the history of books (if we restrict ourselves to those English books in google’s linguistic corpus of texts) –

    Anne Carson, who has the best ear for ancient Greek of anybody on the planet today, has written an essay on the “gender of sound” as put forth by men, such as Aristotle. (Note her first several footnotes). The real Aristotle and the Pseudo Aristotle both get due credit for perpetuating the myth that males sound normal and females sound aberrant; Carson’s essay is online here:

    Click to access Carson.pdf

    What sounds good, then, may just be in the ear of the listener. And yet, yes, I think you are correct that there are universals in Language, and in particular languages, that would make for some frozen phrases. The vowel sounds for words for “mother,” for example, tend to have the tongue higher and more fronted in the mouth than words for “father”; and the consonants tend to be more fronted and more voiced and more often made by both lips as in “mommy” and “ma ma” than with words like “daddy” and “pa pa.”

    It’s when adults use words of gender and try to suggest that there’s something “Natural” and / or “God given” about the gender words matching sexed reality that tends to be dicey. What we usually see is not science in these cases but sexist hierarchies perpetuating patriarchy or the dominance of men that would silence women and girls and would relegate them always and only to certain domains like the home, the kitchen, the bedroom rather than the workplace or the office or the boardroom.

  4. October 23, 2013 8:37 am

    Thank you, Victoria, for your wonderful questions. And thanks for sharing your activism!! Successfully, I think, contemporary English no longer defaults to the masculine pronoun in conversation and in writing, because of thoughtful feminist intentions. There is still a long way to go for Ms vs. the marked Miss/Mrs compared with Mr.

    The Hebrew transliterated comes out like this: zachar unekevah.

    The Greek like this: arsen kai ThEly.

    There are biblical passages such as Leviticus 3:6 where the sexes of animals are distinguished: zachar ‘ov nekevah (Heb transliteration); arsen E ThElu (Greek transliteration). The English equivalent for the conjunction is more of an “OR” than the “AND.”

    As for Aquinas (and others like Augustine), yes, the debt in thinking to Aristotle is clear. In many instances it’s not only the Aristotelian method but also the language of Aristotle’s texts that are influences. Probably “Generation of Animals” and “History of Animals” by Aristotle more than “Physiognomonics” attributed to Aristotle provided the familiar phrases.

    Your last two questions regarding Paul’s use of Greek to the Galatians will take me a little more time and care to answer. I read through his letter twice before writing my post. There’s some obvious play on the notions of Greekness, especially that of Titus, who was NOT Jewish and had foreskin. There is some conspicuous attention given to slavery as an institution, a metaphor for the Jerusalem Christianity. There is use of “generation” as in sexual procreation, the idea of semen/seed and of mothers, of AvRaHam, of Paul’s own mother, of Hagar from where Paul is writing from, of SaraH. It seems subversive to cold Greek rationality and rhetoric while using Greek forms and language to argue for a sort of post-Judaism universal-Judaism midrash. Not easy stuff to read since it appears to assume knowledge and methods of knowing and arguing that are not only Jewish but also Greekish. I may be able to write more more clearly later. It is striking that there is not a real parallel between the “Judahishness nor Hellenism” and the “slave nor free” and the “boyness-and-girlness.” Of course, I’m translating here into English just to tease out more a bit of etic “outsider” reading that might show something emic “insider.” Who is to say exactly what Paul intended? There is a rich poetry and a clear literary focus in his writing here! Thank you so much for the questions!!

  5. October 24, 2013 8:08 am

    Your questions really call for a more careful answer, and so I’ve found a little time to investigate:

    On what grounds do you conclude that Paul is being more Hebrew/relational than Greek/dichotomous in Gal 3:28? It looks to me as if he’s deliberately invoking a set of hierarchically understood opposites, which seems more Greeky based on your argument.

    Let me first respond by saying that there was among the Greeks around the time of Isocrates and Aristotle a great battle over “good and proper” τὸ ἑλληνίζειν, or correct Greek was already brewing. Plato and his Socrates were correcting sophists like Protagoras and Gorgias. Aristotle was the one who seems to have had the most “success” in laying out, principally, logically, using the oppositional binary, what was “good” and “not good” in the uses of the language.There’s a sort of Greek that women, like Aspasia and Sappho, used that was akin to the epic culture of Homer, the lore of Hesiod, and the later popular playwrights, that Aristotle worked against. So it’s Aristotelian Greekyness that the LXX translators seem to confront. Paul can’t ignore this, it seems, being himself a citizen of Rome (where the official Latin suffered an inferiority complex in the shadow of Alexander’s Great Greek project). The Alexandrian Jews, long before Paul, seemed to appreciate more what the Greek poets did with the language, as the LXX translators there in Alexandria set about rendering their Hebrew scriptures into Hellene.

    This is a long answer just to say that Paul’s Greek wordplays in his Galatia letter deal with Semitic and biblical ideas expressed in ambiguous and poetic Hellene. (In other writings attributed to Paul, there is clear indication that he was aware of or was at least able to make use of Aristotle’s rhetoric, much more clear cut in contrast to the poetic stuff.)

    It’s not clear to me that Paul is listing hierarchies in parallel.

    Ἰουδαῖος / Ἕλλην – Jew OVER Greek?
    δοῦλος / ἐλεύθερος – slave OVER free??!
    ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ – male and feminine?

    I’ve seen a number of arguments that rest heavily on that “and”/kai rather than “or”/oude(?) in the male/female pair. You’ve argued fairly convincingly that this phrase is a “frozen phrase”: how do the other phrases (greek and Jew, slave and free) look according to the same analysis?

    The construction οὐκ ἔνι (“there’s no”) is fairly common as a frozen phrase.

    The construction οὐκ ἔνι … οὐδὲ (“there’s no … and no” or “there’s neither … nor”) is not nearly as common. In Aristophanes’s play “Wasps” the Chorus at line 446 complains about two slaves who are ungrateful for the shoes and clothing their master so generously had provided to them; Eugene O’Neil renders that Greek in the following English with my bold font to emphasize the construction: “there is no gentleness in their look nor any recollection of the slippers of other days.”

    And Paul’s constructions οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην and οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος are nowhere to be found in the corpus of digitized extant ancient Greek texts. Do note that his syntax has first Jew then Greek, first slave then free, so the parallelism would, at least if word order were important, does not suggest parallel hierarchies.

    The closest thing I can find to this is a line from Euripides’s “Trojan Women”; at 477 there’s this οὓς Τρῳὰς οὐδ’ Ἑλληνὶς οὐδὲ βάρβαρος γυνὴ τεκοῦσα κομπάσειεν ἄν ποτε. George Theodoridis has for this: “No other woman, no Trojan, no Greek, no barbarian woman can boast to having children like mine.” And “children such as no Trojan or Hellenic or barbarian mother ever had to boast” is G. Murray’s translation.

    The best translation of Galatians 3:27-28 that I have found (the casual colloquialism of English and some historical misunderstandings about Semitic languages aside) is N. T. Wright’s:

    You see, every one of you who has been baptized into the Messiah has put on the Messiah. There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no “male and female”; you are all one in the Messiah Jesus.

    Wright explains long before he produced his entire NT translation:

    First, a note about translation and exegesis. I notice that on one of your leaflets you adopt what is actually a mistranslation of this verse: neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female. That is precisely what Paul does not say; and as it’s what we expect he’s going to say, we should note quite carefully what he has said instead, since he presumably means to make a point by doing so, a point which is missed when the translation is flattened out as in that version. What he says is that there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, no ‘male and female’. I think the reason he says ‘no male and female’ rather than ‘neither male nor female’ is that he is actually quoting Genesis 1, and that we should understand the phrase ‘male and female’ in scare-quotes.

    What Wright is right about is that Paul is using a frozen phrase from Genesis. What he could have noticed is that this LXX phrase so frozen is not just in Genesis 1. It’s in Genesis 5. Maybe as importantly or even more important is that it’s in the Noah story, where the Lord commands that animals be saved ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ.

    This insistence on the unit in the Hebrew bible reflected in its Hebraic Hellene translation is what Paul is playing on. Paul makes a big deal out of the facts

    that the LXX has a singular phrase (ἑνός) for “seed” (Gal 3:16);

    that the LXX has one God (Θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν, in Gal 3:20, which invokes the Hellene version of Shema Yisrael, or Deuteronomy 6:4 vs. disparate plurality);

    and that, for example, the “fruit” of the spirit is one in contrast to the plural “works” of the flesh (Gal 5).

    Paul is taking advantage of a common, then-biblical frozen phrase that emphasizes the unity of the sexes. This is in contrast to Aristotelian biologies, that would insist on male over female oppositional and binary difference.

  6. October 25, 2013 12:03 am

    Thank you for your thoughtful replies, Kurk, which I’ll want to read over again. One thing I did immediately notice in response to your pointing out that Paul doesn’t seem to be making parallel hierarchies here:

    Ἰουδαῖος / Ἕλλην – Jew OVER Greek?
    δοῦλος / ἐλεύθερος – slave OVER free??!
    ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ – male and feminine?

    is a different kind of poetic form, supposing that the taken-for-granted hierarchies were Jew over Greek and free over slave:

    Not [greater] nor [lesser],
    Not [lesser] nor [greater],
    Not [equal] and [equal],

    Reading those first two lines as inverted pairs of hierarchies makes the third line a culmination of the argument and actually makes some form-al sense, for me at least, of why that third line would be “and” not “or”.

    And that’s also consistent with your conclusion that Paul is interestingly playing with singular vs plural to emphasize unity, though it gets there in a different direction.

  7. October 26, 2013 7:57 am

    I love the algebra you offer to illustrate the patterns or lines of Paul’s argument possibly. What does seem clearest to me is that he’s invoking ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ as a unit that appears in his Bible but also that has a Greek biological history as well, the same phrase frozen with entirely different emphases.

    What is the most difficult part of the Galatians letter for me is the discussion of Hagar as in contrast to and somehow under Sarah. I know feminist readings tend to suggest profound sexism here. I don’t know how to read this in the whole context very well.


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  3. Deuteronomy, Part 1 | The Gospel and the Religious Mind

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