Monthly Archives: February 2012

Greek and Latin, in Authentic Pronunciation

Real quick post about a resource that I (and I hope others) have found really interesting and even useful: the Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature. They have quite a few recordings on their site of famous selections of ancient Greek and Latin, recited in authentic historical pronunciation. The ones I’ve found most interesting are Homer, Demosthenes, and AristophanesCicero, and Catullus, though all the others are also really informative. The only thing cooler than this site in regards to ancient Greek pronunciation, I think, is W. B. Stanford’s The Sound of Greek (which comes with a 33 1/3 record in the back!).

Check it out!

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Γίνομαι + predicate substantive

This post riffs off of something I read in Mastronarde’s commentary on Medea (which, by now, is familiar from several editions of Greek Wednesday). Here’s the quote:

“Proves to be” or “shows itself to be” or the like is frequently the best English equivalent for γίγνομαι followed by a predicate noun or adjective.

[Donald J. Mastronarde, Euripides: Medea (Cambride: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 165.]

I think this idea holds water in later Greek, as well as the Classical Greek Mastronarde is referencing. Take several examples from the NT:

(N.B.: I have limited these examples to γίνομαι in the imperative, but only to make the search easier for me; the rule applies to γίνομαι in any mood.)

Matthew 10:16  

  • Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς πρόβατα ἐν μέσῳ λύκων· γίνεσθε οὖν φρόνιμοι ὡς οἱ ὄφεις καὶ ἀκέραιοι ὡς αἱ περιστεραί.
  • Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (ESV)
  • Look, I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves, so prove yourselves to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Personal translation)

Luke 12:40

  • καὶ ὑμεῖς γίνεσθε ἕτοιμοι, ὅτι ᾗ ὥρᾳ οὐ δοκεῖτε ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἔρχεται.
  • You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (ESV)
  • You also — show yourselves to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not know. (Personal translation)

John 20:27

  • εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ· φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου, καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός.
  • Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (ESV)
  • Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; put your hand here and push it into my side. Don’t prove to be faithless; rather, show yourself to be faithful.” (Personal translation)

1 Corinthians 7:23

  • τιμῆς ἠγοράσθητε· μὴ γίνεσθε δοῦλοι ἀνθρώπων.
  • You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. (ESV)
  • You were bought at a price; do not prove yourselves to be slaves to men. (Personal translation)

In each case, the change in meaning is subtle but significant. Translating γίνου/γίνεσθε as “prove to be” or “show yourself to be” implies a personal development, a là sanctification, that is simply not present with a simple command to “be” something.

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The Intermediate State in the New Testament: History of Interpretation

The traditional doctrine of the Church, starting with the Fathers and running down through contemporary times, is that the souls of the dead do spend their time in an intermediate state. In the Apostolic Fathers, martyrs enter into a blissful state at death, to be consummated at the eschaton.[1] Of the Church Fathers, Athenagoras, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Gregory of Nyssa all taught the existence of an intermediate state, mainly because the soul, which is immortal, needs a place to go between death and the resurrection.[2]

The official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church is that an intermediate state exists. Specifically, Catholic doctrine is that, at death, the soul is judged and sent to heaven, limbo, purgatory, or hell to await the final resurrection.[3] The doctrines of purgatory and limbo are, of course, peculiar to the Catholic Church, but the Reformers also held to the idea of an intermediate state, and some Protestants, along with the Catholics, declare it doctrine.[4] Thus, from the beginnings of the Church through contemporary times, an intermediate state has been traditional doctrine.

However, scholars are divided on whether the NT teaches an intermediate state. Some, such as Osei Bonsu, Oscar Cullman, and N. T. Wright, follow traditional doctrine and argue that the NT does, in fact, teach specific things about an intermediate state.[5] Others, such as Murray J. Harris and F. F. Bruce, claim, on the basis of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, that the soul faces no intermediate state after death.[6] Finally, Karel Hanhart claims that the NT authors regarded the intermediate state as terra incognita and thus, by and large, were not very concerned with providing specifics about what happens after death.[7]


1. See, for example, 1 Clem. 5:4, 7; 6:2; Mart. Pol. 2:7; Herm. Vis. iii.1.9-2.1. I owe these citations to F. F. Bruce, “Paul on Immortality,” Scottish Journal of Theology 24 (1971): 79, 88.

2. Athenagoras, Res. 12-15; Irenaeus, Haer. 2.34-35; Tertullian, Res. 14-17; Gregory of Nyssa, On the Resurrection of the Dead; Ambrose, On Belief in the Resurrection 21, 88. See also Ps.-Justin, Res. 8. I owe these citations to Osei Bonsu, “The Intermediate State in the New Testament,” Scottish Journal of Theology 44 (1991): 169.

3. See, for example, the New Catholic Encyclopedia, 13.463 and its many citations of Denzinger’s Sources of Catholic Dogma.

4. On the Reformers, see Luther, Letter to Amsdorf, Jan. 13, 1552; Calvin, Institutes 3.25.7. On Protestants, see, e.g., Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. 32.

5. Bonsu, “Intermediate State”; Oscar Cullmann Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead? The Witness of the New Testament (London: Epworth, 1958); N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003).

6. Murray J. Harris, “The Interpretation of 2 Cor 5:1-10 and Its Place in Pauline Eschatology” (Ph.D. diss., University of Manchester, 1970), “2 Cor 5:1-10, Watershed in Paul’s Eschatology?” Tyndale Bulletin 22 (1971): 32-57, “Paul’s View of Death in 2 Cor 5:1-10.” (Pages 317-328 in New Dimensions in New Testament Study, ed. R. N. Longenecker and M. C. Tenney; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), Raised Immortal: Resurrection & Immortality in the New Testament (London: M & S Marshall, 1983); Bruce, “Paul on Immortality.”

7. Karel Hanhart, The Intermediate State in the New Testament (Franeker, Holland: T. Wever, 1966), 45-46, 104-105.

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Interesting Article on “Fear” in Ancient Greek

Here’s a quote:

By now we have seen that the primal emotion of collective fear, as conveyed by the word ekplēxis, transcends other emotions in the realm of theatrical performance. . . . This transcendent emotion of primal fear is the primary emotion of ancient Greek theater, and the emotions of sorrow and anger and hate and love and even of happiness are all secondary to it.

Gregory Nagy, “The Subjectivity of Fear as Reflected in Ancient Greek Wording,” Dialogues 5 (2010): 29–45.

(HT: rogueclassicism)

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Greek Wednesday: Structural Elements in Greek Tragedy, pt. 3

[This guide is adapted from Donald J. Mastronarde, Euripides: Medea (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 74-75. All links in citations point to Perseus.]

Note: This is part three in a series. See parts one and two.

Normally, the lyric portions of tragedies — particularly, choral songs — are written in antistrophic composition. In antistrophic composition, stanzas are grouped in pairs. The two stanzas in the pair have the same metrical pattern, but the form of each pair is unique. The first stanza of the pair is called the strophe, and the second stanza, with a metrical pattern corresponding to the first, is called the antistrophe.

The number of pairs may vary, but in mature tragedy, the majority of choral songs have two or three pairs. For instance, in Euripides’ Medea, the stasimons each have two such pairs:

410 ἄνω ποταμῶν ἱερῶν χωροῦσι παγαί,
καὶ δίκα καὶ πάντα πάλιν στρέφεται·
ἀνδράσι μὲν δόλιαι βουλαί, θεῶν δ’
οὐκέτι πίστις ἄραρεν.
415 τὰν δ’ ἐμὰν εὔκλειαν ἔχειν βιοτὰν στρέψουσι φᾶμαι·
ἔρχεται τιμὰ γυναικείῳ γένει·
οὐκέτι δυσκέλαδος
420 φάμα γυναῖκας ἕξει.

μοῦσαι δὲ παλαιγενέων λήξουσ’ ἀοιδῶν
τὰν ἐμὰν ὑμνεῦσαι ἀπιστοσύναν.
οὐ γὰρ ἐν ἁμετέρᾳ γνώμᾳ λύρας
425 ὤπασε θέσπιν ἀοιδὰν
Φοῖβος ἁγήτωρ μελέων· ἐπεὶ ἀντάχησ’ ἂν ὕμνον
ἀρσένων γέννᾳ. μακρὸς δ’ αἰὼν ἔχει
πολλὰ μὲν ἁμετέραν
430 ἀνδρῶν τε μοῖραν εἰπεῖν.

σὺ δ’ ἐκ μὲν οἴκων πατρίων ἔπλευσας
μαινομένᾳ κραδίᾳ διδύμους ὁρίσασα Πόν-
435 του πέτρας· ἐπὶ δὲ ξένᾳ
ναίεις χθονί, τᾶς ἀνάν-
δρου κοίτας ὀλέσασα λέκτρον,
τάλαινα, φυγὰς δὲ χώ-
438b ρας ἄτιμος ἐλαύνῃ.

βέβακε δ’ ὅρκων χάρις, οὐδ’ ἔτ’ αἰδὼς
440 Ἑλλάδι τᾷ μεγάλᾳ μένει, αἰθερία δ’ ἀνέ-
πτα. σοὶ δ’ οὔτε πατρὸς δόμοι,
δύστανε, μεθορμίσα-
σθαι μόχθων πάρα, σῶν τε λέκτρων
ἄλλα βασίλεια κρείσ-
445 σων δόμοισιν ἐπέστα.

(Euripides, Medea 410-445)

Usually, the antistrophe follows immediately after the strophe, but a short stanza called a mesode occasionally intervenes (an innovation by Aeschylus, which Euripides takes up in his late plays; source):

800 οἵ τ’ ἔσω δωμάτων
πλουτογαθῆ μυχὸν νομίζετε,
κλῦτε, σύμφρονες θεοί·
ἄγετε τῶν πάλαι πεπραγμένων
λύσασθ’ αἷμα προσφάτοις δίκαις.
805 γέρων φόνος μηκέτ’ ἐν δόμοις τέκοι.

τὸ δὲ καλῶς κτίμενον ὦ μέγα ναίων
στόμιον, εὖ δὸς ἀνιδεῖν δόμον ἀνδρός,
καί νιν ἐλευθερίας
λαμπρὸν ἰδεῖν φιλίοις
810 ὄμμασιν δνοφερᾶς καλύπτρας.

ξυλλάβοι δ’ ἐνδίκως
παῖς ὁ Μαίας, ἐπεὶ φορώτατος
πρᾶξιν οὐρίαν θέλων·
815 πολλὰ δ’ ἄλλα φανεῖ χρηίζων κρυπτά.
ἄσκοπον δ’ ἔπος λέγων
νύκτα πρό τ’ ὀμμάτων σκότον φέρει,
καθ’ ἡμέραν δ’ οὐδὲν ἐμφανέστερος.

(Aeschylus, Libation Bearers 800-818)

Or the response may be at considerable distance:

ἄιες ὤ, ἔκλυες ὤ,
ἀνήκουστα τᾶς
τυράννου πάθεα μέλεα θρεομένας;
ὀλοίμαν ἔγωγε πρὶν σᾶν, φίλα,
365 κατανύσαι φρενῶν. ἰώ μοι, φεῦ φεῦ·
ὦ τάλαινα τῶνδ’ ἀλγέων·
ὦ πόνοι τρέφοντες βροτούς.
ὄλωλας, ἐξέφηνας ἐς φάος κακά.
τίς σε παναμέριος ὅδε χρόνος μένει;
370 τελευτάσεταί τι καινὸν δόμοις.
ἄσημα δ’ οὐκέτ’ ἐστὶν οἷ φθίνει τύχα
Κύπριδος, ὦ τάλαινα παῖ Κρησία.
. . .
τάλανες ὦ κακοτυχεῖς
γυναικῶν πότμοι.
τίν’ ἢ νῦν τέχναν ἔχομεν ἢ λόγον
670 σφαλεῖσαι κάθαμμα λύειν λόγου;
ἐτύχομεν δίκας. ἰὼ γᾶ καὶ φῶς·
πᾷ ποτ’ ἐξαλύξω τύχας;
πῶς δὲ πῆμα κρύψω, φίλαι;
675 τίς ἂν θεῶν ἀρωγὸς ἢ τίς ἂν βροτῶν
πάρεδρος ἢ ξυνεργὸς ἀδίκων ἔργων
φανείη; τὸ γὰρ παρ’ ἡμῖν πάθος
πέραν δυσεκπέρατον ἔρχεται βίου.
κακοτυχεστάτα γυναικῶν ἐγώ.

(Euripides, Hippolytus 362-372, 669-679)

Sometimes, a choral ode will end with an additional stanza that is not part of a pair; this unpaired stanza is called an epode:

205 ἰαχὰν ἄιον πολύστονον
γόων, λιγυρὰ δ’ ἄχεα μογερὰ
βοᾷ τὸν ἐν λέχει προδόταν κακόνυμφον·
θεοκλυτεῖ δ’ ἄδικα
παθοῦσα τὰν Ζηνὸς ὁρ-
κίαν Θέμιν, ἅ νιν ἔβασεν
210 Ἑλλάδ’ ἐς ἀντίπορον
δι’ ἅλα νύχιον ἐφ’ ἁλμυρὰν
Πόντου κλῇδ’ ἀπέρατον.

(Euripides, Medea 205-12)

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40 Questions About the End Times

Kregel’s giving away a $25 gift card in support of 40 Questions About the End Times by Eckhard J. Schnabel. Here’s a link to the Facebook contest.

I’d be interested in perusing this book, if for no other reason than to find out how Schnabel approaches the issue. I often find that books that address eschatology tend to follow one of two paths: 1) A literalistic reading of the texts that turns into a roadmap to what will happen to whom, and when; 2) A reactionary response to the view in path (1), which is usually just as unhelpful. There are exceptions to this rule, though, and I would hope Schnabel’s book is one of them.

Here’s the blurb:

Even-handed, biblical, and broadly accessible answers to the most frequently asked questions abut the return of Christ

This newest contribution to the 40 Questions series continues the tradition of excellent research presented in accessible language and clear writing. Designed for both students and general readers, this resource helps them make sense of one of the Bible’s most difficult topics.

Schnabel, a professor at a leading seminary and the author of several major works, looks at the future of the world, the church, and Israel; the return of Jesus; and the millennium and the final judgment. He answers questions related to the rapture, the 144,000, the identity of the two witnesses, Armageddon, how to interpret Revelation, heaven and hell, and so forth.

The result is an even-handed treatment that avoids sensationalism and a “newspaper headline” approach to prophecy, that is, interpreting prophecy according to current events. Rather, Schnabel carefully studies the biblical text in light of its first-century context and draws biblically-based conclusions.

Here’s hoping it’s as even-handed as they say.

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An Apology for Mark’s Gospel?

I was reading the series “Was the Apostle Peter a Source for Mark’s Gospel?” over at Earliest Christianity (parts 1, 2, 3) this morning. In part 1, Tim quotes the oft-repeated refrain from Eusebius (quoting Papias, who quotes John the Apostle) about Mark’s authorship of the gospel attributed to him:

“And the elder [i.e. John?] used to say this: ‘Mark, having become Peter’s interpreter, wrote down accurately everything he remembered, though not in order, of the things either said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, followed Peter, who adapted his teachings as needed but had no intention of giving and ordered account of the Lord’s sayings. Consequently Mark did nothing wrong in writing down some things as he remembered them, for he made it his one concern not to omit anything that he heard or to make any false statement in them.’” (Eusebius, Church History 3.39; translation of Michael W. Holmes)

It seems to me that John was making an apology for Mark’s gospel. Notice several implicit charges that this passage answers:

  • The events of Jesus’ life in Mark’s gospel are out of order: “Mark . . . wrote down accurately everything he remembered, though not in order, of the things either said or done by Christ.”
  • Mark was not an apostle, so his gospel is not authoritative: “he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, followed Peter”
  • Mark’s gospel doesn’t include enough on Jesus’ teachings: “Mark . . . followed Peter, who adapted his teachings as needed but had no intention of giving and ordered account of the Lord’s sayings.”

“Consequently,” John concludes, “Mark did nothing wrong in writing down some things as he remembered them, for he made it his one concern not to omit anything that he heard or to make any false statement in them.” In other words, don’t cast blame on Mark for the shape of his gospel; he was just following Peter! In fact, John asserts, far from being an untrustworthy source of teaching about Jesus, Mark’s gospel is actually an accurate and authoritative collection of Peter’s apostolic teaching.

The implications of all this, of course, are very interesting. First, it would mean that in the late apostolic era, Mark’s gospel was at least a little controversial for its scope and subject matter (mostly the Passion, rather than Jesus’ teachings). It also explains why later authors (like those of Matthew, Luke, and John) saw fit to expand on Mark, because they were unsatisfied with the scope of that gospel.

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