Lecture 6: Conjunctions, Phrases, Etc.
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Course: Greek Tools for Bible Study
Lecture: Conjunctions, Phrases, Etc.
'''Week 3a: How Do We Modify Ideas?'''
'''Conjunctions, Adjectives, Phrases, Clauses'''
Instead of singing this week, I thought I’d try something a little different. Everybody wants to learn to say a couple of words in Greek, right? I cut all the vocabulary out, but there should be some fun stuff. This first word is a hard word to pronounce. The standard way of saying it is χαίρειν (''chairein''), χαί-ρειν (''chai''-''rein''). α-ι (alpha, iota) is an “ai” [eye] sound. ε-ι (epsilon, iota) is an “ei” [ay] sound. Clear the spit out of your throat, so you don’t spit on your neighbor, and say χαίρειν (''chairein''). That is the standard way to say hello to a group. This is what is in the beginning of James, chapter 1, and it is the standard greeting. This actually is an infinitive, like a “to sleep, to eat”, kind of verb. And it – χαίρω (''chairō'') – is “thanksgiving, rejoicing, grace,” that kind of idea. So in saying hello, you are extending grace.
If you want to greet an individual, if you want to make it singular, it’s χαίρε (chaire), χαίρε (chaire). In order to say hello to someone, you put the person’s name first and then χαίρε (''chaire''). So if somebody’s name were Alexander, you would say Alexander (in Greek) χαίρε (''chaire''). We could say, “Jake χαίρε,” “Ed χαίρε,” or “Nona χαίρε”.
Now, I have to be careful with this next word. I lived in Kentucky for quite awhile, and “ma’am” to me is a polite, non-derogatory term for a female who is 20 and up; “Ma’am” to me is a nice word. If I say “ma’am” to my wife she normally hits me because she has a different set of connotations with what the word means. She thinks it means old and boring. But, if you wanted to say “Ma’am, hello”, how would you do that in English? “Hello, Ma’am.” Well, in Greek you say “Ma’am, hello,” and if it is a man you would say “Sir, hello.” So, “Κυρία χαίρε” (''Kuria'' ''chaire''), is hello if you’re talking to a lady. “Κύριε χαίρε” (''Kurie'' ''chaire''), if you’re saying hello to a man. There’s a gender difference. It’s obviously the same word, but this κυρία is feminine, and κύριε is masculine.
If you want to say hello to a group of people, you would say “χαίρειν.” If you wanted to say hello to Becka, you would say “Κυρία χαίρε.” And if you wanted to say hi to Jake, you would say “Κύριε χαίρε.” That is how you say hello in Greek.
Now, I have yet to figure out the Greek to ask, “Where is the bathroom?” I can’t figure out how to ask where the bathroom is, which is always one of those first couple of phrases you want to learn in traveling to any country. I cannot give you that one. I am sorry.
However, I can say δός μοι πεῖν (''dos moi pein''), which is “May I have something to drink?” δός (''dos'') is an imperative. It means “give.” μοι (''moi'') is a personal pronoun “to me.” And πεῖν (''pein'') is the infinitive of the verb “to drink.” This is what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well. δός μοι πεῖν (''dos moi pein'').
Now here is the interesting thing. As far as I can tell, Greeks do not have a word for “please.” Isn’t that weird? It is always strange what words languages have and which words languages do not have. I went through the entire Greek Old Testament on the computer. Every time that there was a “please,” or something that was like that, all they are are straight verbs. Well, straight imperatives. They are all straight commands, in other words.
Here, this is where it gets very interesting, especially when you try to translate it. If I said, and I am going to make up an intonation, “δός μοι πεῖν,” I am saying, “Give it to me!” If I would say something like, “δός μοι πεῖν,” I am saying, “Please, will you give it to me?” There must have been a lot of inflection. We have technical terms for this in grammars. When you get into imperatival grammar, grammars related to imperatives, there are straight imperatives that are commands. And then we have a special one called an entreaty, which is just a fancy word grammarians came up with because they noticed the Greeks use exactly the same form of the verb, a command, no matter whether they are asking someone of lower social status or higher social status. So, it is understood contextually when you read it. My guess is that when it was spoken, there was an intonation that would differentiate; so that if your kids were not being polite to you, you could hear it in their voice and correct them.
If it is written, how can you tell? That is what context is, and the best example is the Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” They are all imperatives. Well, we are not telling God what to do, but within the context of us talking to God, anyone who hears it or reads it is going to understand it as this entreaty, a request. In terms of the form of the word though, they are identical. I mean, I thought for sure there would be some adverb or something you could tack on. If it is there, I have not found it.
So, the next time you’re traveling in ancient Greece 2000 years ago and you are thirsty, you can say to the vendor on the side, “δός μοι πεῖν.” He might look at you and wonder what world you are from with your pronunciation, but they probably could figure it out. Anyway, χαίρειν if it is a group, χαίρε if it is individual, and if you want something to drink δός μοι πεῖν.
Okay, Week 3. The basic caption for Week 3 is ''how do we modify ideas?'' I started to collect the different ways Greek takes a main idea and modifies it. Almost all these modifiers are going to be dependent constructions, but they are ways to modify something that you have said or you are going to say.
So, we are going to look at conjunctions: all the little words, the connecting tissue in a language. Beyond anything else, you are going to see why translations are so different. Conjunctions can have radically different translations depending upon the context. This will explain why one Bible has an “and” and another has a “then” and another has a “but”.
Then we are going to look at adjectives, specifically the definite article which is a real bug-a-boo, especially the next time a Jehovah’s Witness comes to your front door. I will tell you how to take care of that.
Then we will look at phrases and clauses. As you can see, I am trying to add in Greek information to help you with your phrasing, to understand what the connection is between different phrases.
Then in Chapter 13, we are going to go back and look at phrasing again. I used to try to teach phrasing in one week, but just does not work. There is just too much to learn, and so we’re going to do the entire book of Jude. I like Jude a lot. You will start seeing why phrasing is so good and it will help you so much.
Chapter 9: Conjunctions
Why Study Conjunctions?
In Chapter 9, we are going to look at conjunctions. Again, just so you know why we are doing what we are doing, conjunctions are those small linking words that help show the author’s flow of thought. This is the main thing I am trying to get at here: when you start seeing connections, instead of just reading through from one phrase to the next to the next, I want you to start (if you’re not already) to stop and say, “Wait a minute. Okay, I have gone onto another phrase. What is its connection? How is it connected? How is it defining it? What is it defining? How does it relate to the preceding phrases or to the following phrases?” So, conjunctions help a lot on author’s flow of thought.
What you are going to find, too, is that Greek uses conjunctions significantly differently than we do. The standard Greek sentence starts with a conjunction. They rarely start sentences without conjunctions. And so, what you have in Greek are all these words and you are sitting here in English and you go, “I don’t know what to do with this word because we do not start sentences with conjunctions.” We let punctuation, and things like that, perform the function that Greek conjunctions are performing.
We are also going to talk about the concept of semantic range. Semantic range is the concept that a word has a range of meanings. What does the word “can” mean? Well, lots of things. It has a bundle of meanings and you use context and things like that to pick one of those specific meanings out of the bundle. Conjunctions often have a very wide range of meanings, and we will look at those.
Again, we are working with phrasing, but we are also trying to see why translations are so different. That is what Chapter 9 is all about.
Let me give you an example.
Range of Meaning
Let me talk about the range of meaning just for a second. By the way, the things that we are looking at today are fine-tuning kind of things. They are the kind of things that you do not even think about when you first learn Greek. However, you get picky when you start to translate, and you want to translate according to the philosophy that you have agreed on and you want it to flow, to sound good.
If I said, “I went to the store and she went to the game.” What is the conjunction “and” doing? One, it is a straight continuation. “I went to the store.” That is one independent clause. And “she went to the game” could mean little. Depending upon context, it might be a contrast. If the question is, “Why didn’t you see her last night?” You would say, “Well, I went to the store and she went to the game.” You use the word “and,” but you are using it with the idea of "but." Context tells you that.
If you say, “I went to the store and bought some food.” What is the “and” doing? It is describing the purpose of the action, a sequence. Or it could be doing, “I went to the store then I bought some food.”
“I went to the store and it was closed.” That is a stronger example, where the “and” in this sentence is telling you it is “but,” right? The English conjunction “and” has a very wide range of meaning. It is very flexible. We have more conjunctions like this in English, where they have a range of meanings, and the question then is, how are you going to translate it when considering context? Well, “I went to the store and it was closed.” If you want to be explicit, you would translate it, “I went to the store, but it was closed.”
These are the kinds of questions that come up when it comes to conjunctions, and you will see why in a second. The book has quite a few different conjunctions, but I will just look at two. As we look at these two, you will be able to read the rest and it will all make sense.
One of the most common conjunction in Greek is καί (''kai''). Its basic definition is that of continuation. This is the Greek equivalent to the English "and," so when it expresses just straight continuation, it can be translated as “and.”
But καί can also give emphasis, in the same way that our “also” and “even” give emphasis to something.
καί can also be used when you look at context and there is a contrast where the most natural translation is “but.”
And καί is used in places that we would never use it in English. For example, about a third of the verses in John start with καί. It is the Greek way to say “Uhh.” “Jesus went to the well. Uhh, he met a woman. Uhh, it was hot. Uhh.” Now, unlike “uhh” in English, it’s not incorrect grammar in Greek. It is somewhat used that way to say, “Hey, I’m just continuing the story.” Now, we say, “Then continue it!” Greeks would say, ”Hey, you’re leaving the connective out.”
So let’s see how the καί functions.
Verses 37, 40, and 41 of Matthew 25: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?’ ” Then there are several other verses, and then in the NIV they start a new paragraph. The NIV always starts a new paragraph when the speaker changes in dialogue. So they start a new paragraph and verse 40 starts with a καί that they do not translate. “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’ ” Now why did the NIV not translate the Word of God? It was not necessary. In English, when you have a dialogue and when you start a new paragraph every time the speaker changes, it is understood that one verse continues after the previous. So, it is redundant in English, and English does not like redundancy. Greek does, by the way, but English does not like redundancy and so the translators say, “The paragraph marker is performing the function of the καί.” That is how subtle this stuff can get.
Now, you notice earlier, “ ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,” that is καί as well. That is just a normal, easy occurrence of καί to translate.
Let’s get down to verse 41 and look and see what happens. This on is a little trickier. The New American Standard says, “Then (which is a different word altogether), He will καί say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’ ” Okay, this is a good case where it would not make any sense if you said, “He will and say to those.”
Now, there are people who will insist that you use the same English word to translate the same Greek word every time, which is impossible. While there are some good things that come out of that in terms of Bible study, you cannot do it. It is impossible, because the word καί in Greek has a bundle of meanings over here, and the English word “and” has a bundle of meanings over here. Now, there is an overlap area, when καί means “and.” But καί has meanings that the English word “and” cannot have, and so you are forced to use different English words for translating the same Greek word. In other words, you have to be interpretive.
It is interesting that the translators talked about this kind of thing in the preface to the original King James and said, “We feel no need to use the same English word to translate the same Greek word.” I am not sure a lot of people who are strong in the King James understand that, because often they are strong on it for just the opposite reason. There is one famous word–I do not remember what it is–but they translate it with 17 different words in English because they had to fit the context. The King James translators who were really good translators flipped the English words around.
Look what happens in verse 41 of the ESV. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me.’ ” Why did those ESV translators not translate every word of the Word of God?! Context. Now, we did translate almost every single word, and there are even times it reads a little rough in places because of it. But here, We said "Look, it is evident that He has turned from one group of people (those who did feed Him) to another group of people. The 'also' (καί), is redundant in English." So we just dropped it. The period and the starting of a new sentence gave the same sense as the καί. Punctuation is actually important in translating, because punctuation can often perform the same function as some conjunctions.
You see the kind of things we are dealing with? Next time you’re in your Bible study and Zia’s Bible says “and,” and Mike’s says “then,” you will know what is going on. If you needed to, you could look it up and go, “Oh, it’s καί da-da-da-da” and go on. I read in one of John Piper’s devotional books that people hang onto words, and I find it certainly to be true. You sit in a Bible study and very rarely do people fasten onto the entire logic of Romans 3, for example, but there is a word here or a short phrase there they hold onto. I am not sure that’s always good, but that is often what happens, which is why these little words can become important.
Okay, let’s go to the next example.
This is another use of a couple of examples of καί out of Galatians 6:16. The ESV translates, “And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” Now, those of you who are dispensational in your theology, this is a critical verse.
The NIV says, “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.” Now, that is a perfectly legitimate translation of καί. With the way we did it in the ESV, it could sound like there’s two groups of people, that there are those who walk by this rule and they are going to have peace and mercy, and peace and mercy is also going to be on the Israel of God. You could read that as two different groups of people; in fact, in English it would be virtually impossible not to read it that way. In the NIV, their theology says that this is only one group of people, that the Gentile Christians are the Israel of God. And so, they translate it, “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even, that is, I’m talking about, the Israel of God,” is what the NIV’s getting at. Very important theologically to many people.
Now, what on earth is the NLT doing? “May God’s mercy and peace be upon all those who live by this principle. They are the new people of God.” Now you tell me where the καί is in the NLT. It is there, but it’s not translated “and.” It could be the period, because then there is no idea of sequence, not two groups. Perhaps they look at the NIV while translating.
When you translate, you always look at what other people do. Everybody does. It would not make any sense not to. The King James translators made a really big deal that they were translating within a tradition, and they valued what Wycliffe and Tyndale and others had done. That continues, and you always look at what other people do.
What NLT has done is say καί can mean “even,” in other words this can be one group of people. That whole digression was to explain that they could have looked at the NIV and seen “even to the Israel of God” and since readability is so paramount in the NLT, they think, “People aren’t going to figure that one out. We think the NIV is right.” The question is, how can we take the “even” and make it explicit? The NLT takes implicit things, exegetes it and makes it explicit. Well, “They are the new people of God.”
I looked this up in the NET Bible, which is done exclusively by professors at Dallas, a dispensational school. They translated this as “and”, and then in their footnotes–they have over 16,000 footnotes–they said, “and” could be “even” and laid out both positions, which I thought was a real act of integrity on their part. Those guys have to be dispensational to teach at Dallas, but they wanted people to know that there were options. The NET Bible is really an amazing translation. Just to get 16,000 footnotes in a nice leather oversized Bible for $30 is really quite amazing.
Anyway, are you starting to see what happens in translation, even with little words? You cannot just translate καί as "and.” It does not work that way.
Here is another example. In 1 John 2:4, the NASB and the King James take the same basic approach. It says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” King James, “And keepeth not his commands.”
Well, look what the ESV and the NIV did. “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar.” See, we are saying the context requires there to be a contrast here. We are afraid that if you hear “and,” you will not see it, and so we translated καί as “but.” Same with the NIV.
You have this marvelous conjunction that has quite a few meanings. You look at your translation philosophy, and you look at the context, and you make a decision. Now, I can tell you this did not happen very often in the ESV. καί usually got translated as “and,” and if we felt that in the flow of the English you would hear the contrast, we tended to leave καί as “and.” There must have been someone on the committee who said, “The contrast, it is not clear enough. We need to make it more explicit.” Either that or the RSV had already done it. Again, remember the ESV is a revision of the RSV, and the RSV is more interpretive than people often realize. It may have been that the RSV had it “but” and we left it alone.
One more καί in Acts 2:20-21. This is Peter’s sermon and the fulfillment of prophecy. He has gone through several things: the pouring out of the Spirit on sons and daughters, and “the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Why did the NRSV do what they did? They translated the καί as “then.” See, the NRSV is seeing a stronger sense of sequence in the flow of the passage. It is not this and this and this, and oh, by the way, “anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” They see a sequence. The sun’s going to “be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of Lord’s great and glorious day.” And then at that point, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
καί can have all these meanings.
So again, what do translators do? They have a translation philosophy, we already talked about that. They decide how explicit or how implicit to translate. Then they look at the word and they know the word’s bundle of meanings. Then they exegete the passage and figure out which word out of that bundle best fits the context. You can see why there is so much difference, because the Greek allows the flexibility.
Let’s switch to a second one and look at δέ (''de''). δέ indicates that there is a very weak connection. Now, if you take full-Greek, you will memorize δέ as “and” or “but,” but that actually is not very good (and I need to find some way to change my own book on that part), because there is a word ἀλλά (''alla'') that really means, “this, BUT this.” We call that a strong adversative. An adversative introduces a contrast.
δέ is a very weak adversative, so we say “this … but this”. (Try to write that in the book; you can’t!) That is what δέ is doing. It is saying there are a very weak connection between ideas. So how do you translate δέ? Well, a lot of them you just ignore, because English doesn’t have a word like that.
If you ask Dan Wallace, the head of the New Testament NET committee, how many times they didn't translate δέ, he probably knows the number. He’d probably say, “Yes, there are 2,347 places we did not translate δέ.” It is so weak and so odd in English that we do not have anything like it, and so often δέ goes untranslated. Sometimes it is translated as “and.” If there is a slight inferential sense, we get a “now” or a “then" sometimes. It can mean “but,” but it normally is very weak.
δέ is reflected a lot in punctuation, as well, because it is so weak. See, a comma is weaker than an “and,” isn’t it? So that is why you get punctuation a lot with δέ. Let’s look at some of the examples.
In Romans 5:3-4, “But, not only, but also we boast in the sufferings because we know that the sufferings endurance produces, δέ the endurance character, δέ the character hope.” If you’re going to go word-for-word, that is what it says. δέ is called a post-positive. The Greeks would never say it as the first word in the sentence, but if you are going to translate it, you usually translate it as the first word. So, you see what is going on in the Greek. Suffering produces endurance, δέ endurance character, δέ character hope.
Now, let’s look at what the ESV did. “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and” (There’s your translation of δέ) “endurance,” See what we had to do? “produces character,” this verb produces, where is it in the Greek? It is not there. In other words, the verb is stated once “suffering produces endurance,” but if we translate the δέ and you cannot say “and endurance character.” It just does not sound right. So we had to repeat the verb “and endurance produces character,” and then translat the last δέ also “and character produces hope.” We wanted to get a word in for the δέ and English requires a verb.
Feel the NIV, they did a better job. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Now, that is what you want to read in church on Sunday. But notice what the NIV translates the δέ as: semicolons. “Suffering produces perseverance (δέ) perseverance, character” and then they put an “and,” “and character, hope.” They put an “and” at the end because in English when you have a series, you go dut-dut-dut “and” dut. So even if there were καί’s all the way through here, the NIV probably would have dropped them out because it likes to list series of things without conjunctions.
You can see how sophisticated translating is. I do not have much patience when I hear people who do not know Greek say translators are intentionally perverting the Word of God. That just is not true, and it is much more sophisticated than many people realize, which is why translations are done by committees. No one person can do this. And that is why you need people like J.I. Packer and Vern Poythress on your team.
What do I mean by “strong” and “weak?” Let’s take the word “but,” because it is easy to explain through. If I say, “I went to the store, but I couldn’t find anything to eat.” No big deal. “I was starving, but I never was able to find anything to eat.” Now I added in a “never” and some other stuff. See, the second is a stronger construction because it is saying the second phrase is stronger in contradiction to the first phrase. It is the difference between “so” and “therefore.” “I saw Robin through the window, so I asked her out.” “I saw my future wife, and, therefore, I went after her.” That is the difference between “strong” and “weak.”
Another example in Acts 2:4-5 of the NIV. Verse 4 starts with a καί, although untranslateed, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” New paragraph. δέ “(δέ) there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.” Now, you know the story of Pentecost. There is a connection; a flow in this passage, and so the NIV, which tends to drop δέ's as well, thinks, “We stopped the new paragraph, but we are not onto a new topic. How can we translate the dev to indicate what it is indicating, that we’re still on the same sequence?” Well, “Now there were in Jerusalem these God-fearing Jews.” They heard God being proclaimed and praised in their native languages, and you know the story.
It is dangerous in English because a new paragraph can start a totally new topic. And so, if in the context you do not want to start a totally new topic and there is a δέ, you will generally find a “then” or “now” or some kind of connective to hold the narrative together.
The NLT says, “And” (surprisingly they translated the καί and the NIV didn’t), “And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.” New paragraph. “Godly Jews from many…” Okay, can you feel that? Sometimes that’s all you can do; you can feel the difference. “Godly Jews from many nations were living in Jerusalem at that time.” That’s their way of trying to keep the narrative flowing. But that’s what the δέ is doing. It’s saying, “Hey, I’m not onto a new topic. There is a continuation here.”
John 5:9-10. ESV, “And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.’ ” Languages aside, that one of the most amazing verses in all the Bible. Here is a man, healed, and their stupid human petty, “You didn’t do it the right way.” “My leg’s work.” “Yeah, but you didn’t do it the right way. It’s the Sabbath.” I look at that and I go, “My basic theology says human nature hasn’t changed. So I wonder what I’m doing in my life that’s just as ridiculous.” I heard a story, a true story, about a teenager back in the 70’s who was saved and excited. You know, the power of sin was broken in his life; he was at church; he had his new family; and all these really neat things. He got up and noticed one day as they were taking the offering, they were short a deacon; so he got up to help take the offering. Another deacon came over and said, “Young man, God may not mind if you wear jeans, but we do. Sit down.” Isn’t that amazing? That is right up here with this kind of stupid response. Anyway, enough for commentary. Back to Greek.
How does the NIV handle the connection? “At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath.” Now, that is interesting. They start a new paragraph, maybe because it is “on which this took place,”
The NLT, “Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath day.” That is a great translation. It is great, because they are saying, “There is a contrast here. There is a δέ there and it is pretty strong.” Now, the contrast is not between the healing and being on the Sabbath. The contrast is on the joy of the healing and the negativity that is just about to come. They did not put a paragraph there, which makes it even stronger. Paragraphing is huge.
By the way, you notice also the ESV, like the RSV and like the King James, tends to use longer sentences. The NIV and especially the NLT use much shorter sentences. That is because of the respective ages that they are writing to. See, here you have three sentences in the NLT, this is only verse 10. In one verse they have three sentences. Just part of their translation philosophy. See, δέ is very weak and so if you stopped reading at verse 10, the “but” is not going to make any sense at all. You scratch your head and go, “Why did you do that?” They are foreshadowing, setting the reader up for the trouble that will happen, and they do it very subtly with one little conjunction. Cool, right? The little stuff is so much fun.
One more example of δέ. Luke 6:8-9. The King James reads, “But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, 'Rise up, and stand forth in the midst.' And he arose and stood forth.” You know what is amazing on the King James, that is real Greek construction. They really did stick many, many times to the Greek. “And he arose and stood forth. (δέ) said Jesus unto them, 'I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?'”
The ESV comes along and says, “You know what? It’s pretty clear that it is a sequence, that this happened and then this happened.” So we translated, “And Jesus said to them.” We did it with an “and.” In other words, we did not need any sense of sequence in the word; because as you read, it makes the sequence clear, this happened then this happened.
Like I said, there are many other conjunctions. These are the two biggest ones, but they will show you the kind of flexibility that really exists in any word in Greek, but especially in conjunctions. As you try to figure out the connections in your phrasing, these things become pretty important.
How To Use the Reverse Interlinear
Next week we will learn how to get to the Greek behind the English. In case you want to check out the Greek conjunctions before then, let me give you a little heads-up on what we are going to talk about.
This is an example of my ''Reverse Interlinear.'' Now, I am sorry to push my own book. I am biased, what can I say? This is a book that I did a few years ago, specifically to help people who do not know Greek get to the Greek behind the English. Most interlinears keep the Greek order and then alter the English to match the Greek, and what you end up with is English that is unreadable. One day it occurred to me that that was backwards. It seemed to me that if you need an interlinear, then you can’t understand Greek word order. Greek is not your major language; English is. So, why not keep the English word order so you can actually read the book and then show the Greek that lies behind the English? Anyway, that was the thinking that went into The Reverse Interlinear.
Here is an example from Matthew 1. “But after he had considered this,” (this is Joseph), “an angel…” The English word “but” is translating the Greek word δέ. Then the third line, the “cj” stands for conjunction. That means that δέ is a conjunction. Then, most importantly for us, the Greek word behind the English “but” is word “1254.” This is a word that you can use in a word study book to look up to see what the Greek word means. So, if you have a copy of the Reverse Interlinear and you want to check out some conjunctions before next week, this is going to be the easiest way to do it. I will show you some other ways next week, but this is the easiest for right now.
For many years we had Strong’s numbers. That meant that each Greek word had its own number. So, no matter what form the Greek word took, you could always figure out what it was by looking at its number. A few years ago, Zondervan commissioned Goodrick and Kohlenberger to do another numbering scheme that is a little more complete than Strong's. Hence, we call these G/K numbers.
So, if for some reason you wanted to look up the Greek word behind the English “but,” you’d go to the Reverse Interlinear; you would see that it is δέ; it is a conjunction; then you would use “1254” to go look up in Verlyn’s [Verlyn Verbrugge] word study book or some other source to find out what δέ means. That is a quick way to take care of it for this week. We will talk more about it next week. By the way, if you already have a word study book that uses Strong’s numbers, there is a conversion table in the back of the Reverse Interlinear, so that you can go from the G/K to the Strong numbers.
Chapter 10: Adjectives
Chapter 10. We took quite awhile on conjunctions. I will go through the next few chapters pretty quickly. They are straight forward in the book, but I will cover them briefly. Chapter 10 has to do with adjectives. Especially if you use a standard interlinear, there is something you need to know about adjectives.
There are two ways to take an adjective and make it modify a noun in Greek. You can say “the good dog,” or you can say “the dog the good.” Now, there are slight nuances between those two constructions, but it is well beyond anything that you all will ever care about. So, you can have article–adjective–noun, or you can have article–noun–article–adjective. You will see that pattern thousands of times in the Bible. Just two different ways of taking an adjective and making it modify.
Secondly, adjectives in Greek can be used as if they were nouns, just like in English. That is called the substantival use. Every once in awhile we can do that in English without changing anything. You can make sense of “the good, the bad, and the ugly,” but normally when you take an adjective and make it into a noun, you have to add a word to make it understandable. Here is the best example in all the Bible. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” It is an adjective. Well, is the adjective functioning as an adjective in which we are to be delivered from evil in general, or is the adjective functioning as a noun? I think it is the NIV that says, “deliver us from the evil one.” Now when translators add in that word, or when they leave it out, they make an exegetical decision. You are making an interpretive decision. So if you find words added on, do not think they are adding words to the Bible. They are just saying, “The adjective is functioning substantivally as a noun, and in English that means I need to supply something.”
“Joseph was a righteous.” Righteous what? You can’t stop there in English. So most of the translations say, “Joseph was a righteous man and decided he should divorce Mary.” That is the substantival use of adjectives.
The predicate use of adjectives just means, Greek does not always have to have a verb. Sometimes you will see translations adding in a verb. You can say “good man.” If you wrote the Greek word for “good,” in which it said ἀγαθός ἄνθρωπος (''agathos'' ''anthrōpos''), you could be meaning the “good man” or you could mean the “man is good.” In other words, sometimes an adjective will require the insertion of a verb. That is okay; there is nothing unusual about that.
There is one adjective that we need to talk about because it is difficult, and that is the definite article. The definite article in English is “the.” The indefinite article is “a.” Okay, there is no indefinite article in Greek. There is a word ὁ (''ho''), omicron with a rough breathing in one of its 24 forms, that is often called the definite article or just the article, and is often translated as “the.” The problem comes when people think that ὁ means “the” all the time. However, the word is one that has such a phenomenally wide range of meanings that it is really hard to pin down. It is actually a form of the demonstrative pronoun “this, that.” But it got weakened, so that it overlaps with the English word “the.” You will find that the definite article is translated many different ways and often it is not translated at all. For example, Greek proper names almost always have the article in front of it. It is not just Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous); it is ὁ Ἰησοῦς. Well, we do not say “the Jesus;” we say “Jesus.” So, it is a wild animal, and you will see in a second why I am talking about it.
Here is a couple of examples of how you will find the article translated.
John 4:32, “But he said to them;” the “he” is ὁ. Well, here is the word ὁ functioning as a personal pronoun.
1 Timothy 1:19, “Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith;” possessive pronoun. You can see there was an interpretive decision made. Did they “shipwreck their faith,” meaning their personal faith (these are the heretics that Timothy’s having to deal with); or did they “shipwreck the faith,” meaning the Christian faith, meaning the Church in Ephesus? You cannot just say, “Well, ὁ means ‘the’” because it does not, only sometimes does ὁ means “the.” You have to interpret.
1 Corinthians 1:18, the ESV said, “For the word of the cross…” Just to show you how different this can be, the Greek is “the word the of the cross.” This is the definite article; well, so is this and so is this. The second ὁ just says this modifies this. In other words, sometimes the definite article in Greek is called a function marker. It says, whatever follows modifies what precedes. What follows can be a participial phrase, prepositional phrase, all kinds of crazy stuff.
So in other words, especially when you are looking at a standard interlinear, you are going to see the word “the” all over the place. And you will scratch your head and go, “But it doesn’t make any sense in English.” No, it does not, that is just because the word ὁ has this huge range of meanings.
Definite Article (Advanced)
If you read commentaries, you will see people talking about the article. And the most you can do at this point is attempt to follow it, because this is extremely complicated stuff. I often did not teach the article until third year. That is how complicated it can get.
Basically, the definite article is drawing attention to something. It does not make an indefinite word definite. That is critical to understand. Greek words are definite all by themselves. See, when we go from “law” to “the law” in English, we made “law” which could be a concept, something definite, something particular. “The law.” Greek does not make words definite that way. It has many other ways of making words definite. For example, that is why you will find “the” in the translation where there is no ὁ in Greek, because there are many other ways to make words definite. You can feel the difference between talking about “poor” to “the poor.” That is kind of what the article does in Greek. When a word does not have an article, the emphasis is generally upon its quality. When it has the article, its emphasis is upon its identity. Is it “poor” in general, or “the poor” as a group of people? You’ll see the words “quality” and “identity” used a lot in commentaries.
Number 2, whether it is present or absent, identity or quality, can get very, very complicated. I find these discussions in two places. One, in very advanced commentaries; and secondly, in internet discussion groups where the people do not know enough to know they do not know. I have seen pages of people siting Colwell’s rule and da-da-da-da-da … I just find this being discussed in the oddest places.
This is Jehovah’s Witness; this is John 1:1. “In beginning was the word, and the word was with the God” (but God almost always has the article in front of it because there is only one God) “and” (here’s the issue) “and God was the Word.” Whoa! You’ve heard this, right? They will come to your door and say, “Well, if you really knew Greek,” (as if they do) “you would know that it doesn’t say ‘the God’, it says ‘a God’.” And you respond, “There is no word ‘a’ in Greek. How can it say ‘a God’?” At which point they will shut their book and leave; that is what they have been told to do. So the simple rule is, the next time a Jehovah’s Witness comes and says, “Well, John 1:1, if you knew Greek, says ‘the word was a God,’” just ask them, “What’s the Greek word for ‘a’?” I mean, it closes the conversation down very quickly. There is no Greek word for “a.” And just so you can know, grammar has forced the article off of the θεός (''theos''), because it has to come before this verb and be dropped.
The other kind of construction is when you have an article and a noun and a conjunction and a noun. In Titus 2:13 you have the “appearing of the glory of the great God and Savior of us, Jesus Christ.” You have article–noun–conjunction–noun. Is Jesus ever called God in the Bible? Yes. This is one of the dominant places. Sharp’s Rule says that when you have an article-noun-conjunction-noun, that those two nouns form a unit. They are not necessarily identical, but the rule says that you view them as a unit, and then contextually you let the context tell you what the unit is. And in Titus 2:13, Jesus is our great God and Savior. So that’s the rule: article-noun-καί-noun, the two nouns are a unit.
You can actually hear it in English a lot. You have it with prepositions, “God is spirit and whoever would worship Him should worship in spirit and truth.” See, we do not repeat the preposition with “truth” to show that “spirit and truth” belong together. So we do the same kind of thing in English. Anyway, that was just a little something extra.
Chapter 11: Prepositional Phrases
I’m going to skip the next 2 or 3 chapters. They are straight forward in the book, only I need to say one thing about Chapter 11 on prepositional phrases. If you think conjunctions have a wide range of meaning, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Prepositions are unbearable. They can mean, well, whatever. (Well, that is not actually the case.) But a preposition like ἐπί (''epi'') has just a phenomenal range of meanings. So, there are two things that I want to make sure you understand about prepositions.
One is that there is a very wide range of meaning. I tell this story in the book somewhere about a gentleman who called me up, and he was very unhappy that a Bible had mistranslated a preposition. He said δία (''dia'') has to have this meaning and this meaning only. So I tried for 15 minutes to explain the concept of semantic range of Greek prepositions to a retired engineer who did not know the Greek alphabet. I do not know if I succeeded or not, but there is a tremendous breadth of meaning in prepositions, more than any other word in Greek. So do not be surprised when you start seeing these prepositions having radically different translations.
Second of all, we have not talked about case in Greek. We have a little bit in English: subjective case, objective case, possessive case. In Greek there are four cases, and in our 6th week we will look at them. Part of the trickiness of translating a Greek preposition is that most of the prepositions have totally different sets of meaning depending upon the case of its object. Okay, now let me explain that.
In Matthew 6:10 it says, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” “On earth” is ἐπί γῆς (''epi gēs''). Okay, γῆς is called the genitive case, the Greek version of the possessive case. ἐπί has a whole set of meanings when its object is in the genitive case. One of them is “on.”
“Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.” Okay, “near the Sheep Gate” is ἐπί τῇ προβατικῇ (''epi tē probatikē''). Here you have the same preposition ἐπί. Its object is in what is called the dative case; it is the idea of “to” and “for,” that kind of thing. They have their own case for that. So here, the translator sees ἐπί – (and goes “Oh, got another ἐπί. Great.”) – looks at the case and says, “Okay, here is a totally different set of meanings for ἐπί when its object is in the dative.” So they look at it, and they pick in this case “near.” This is not “on” but “near.”
Acts 7:11, “Then a famine struck all Egypt.” The Greek says, “it went through all Egypt.” Here the case–ἐφ (''eph'') is another form of ἐπί. Here its object is accusative, our objective case. ἐπί has a whole other set of meanings when its object is in the accusative, and it is from that third set that you get that “it went through all the land.”
Some prepositions have objects that are always in one case. σύν (''sun'') always is followed by the dative, generally means “with.” ἐν (''en'') is followed by the dative, but it means “in” or “by” and some other things. Other prepositions can take objects in two cases, and a few can take objects in three cases. Okay, all that to say, be gracious to the translators when they are doing prepositions. Do not look and say, “Well, δία only means ‘through’.” No, it does not. Generally there is a wide range of meanings; and when they can be followed by objects in different cases, it doubles and triples. I just do not want you to get surprised when you start looking at prepositions. Prepositions are actually quite important. “Jesus died for your sins.” What does “for” mean? What’s your definition of the atonement?
We have been working on this for some time. Let me just remind us we have done all this work on conjunctions because they have a real effect on how we are going to do our phrasing.
First of all, conjunctions show the connection. We are interested in the conjunctions that connect major ideas. “He did this and she did that.” It is that kind of conjunction that is going to show the relationship between ideas on the macro-level. Those are the conjunctions that are especially important in our phrasing.
Perhaps in terms of phrasing, I should mention quickly that you want to make sure to keep your prepositional phrases together. Almost always you are going to keep a prepositional phrase together; “in the boat,” for example, will always stay together. It will be one phrase in your phrasing.
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