Use of word "mallon"

Mike Sangrey msangrey at
Fri Aug 10 11:22:15 EDT 2001

"Conrad Chiu" <cchiu at> said:
> I am very novice greek learner. I am just wondering if anyone can tell
> me what are the pointers to when "mallon" should be translated as
> "more than" as opposed to "rather than". I am specifically think of 2
> Tim 3:4 where the meaning will be quite significantly different. 

Mike Sangrey wrote:
> (Snip) The `H' (or) is the syntactic clue which sets up the contrast.	

Jay Adkins <Jadkins26438 at> said:

> It is interesting that Louw & Nida use two examples of MALLON as "a
> marker of contrast indicating an alternative" and neither example
> uses `H' as the syntactic clue which sets up the contrast.

> 89.126:  mallon {b} : a marker of contrast indicating an alternative
> - `on the contrary, instead, but rather.'  KAI hUMEIS PEFUSIWMENOI
> ESTE, KAI OUXI MALLON EPENQHSATQ `you have become proud, but on the
> contrary, should you not be exceedingly sad?' 1Cor 5:2 ; NUN DE
> know God, but rather, are known by God' Gala 4:9.

Yes, Jay, I noticed that, too (and thanks).  But I also noticed that
in 1 Cor. 5, Paul is quite upset.  Strong contrast is natural in such
contexts.  For example, let's set up a context where a man discovers
his wife is having an affair with a someone the husband greatly

    Why do you love him?  You should really hate him.

The contrast is lexical (love versus hate) and marked by the
collocation of a question and an imperative.  Notice no `but' or any
other conjunction marking contrast.  In fact, adding words, lessens
the contrast!

But, what about that word `really'?  Does it, in this context, mark
contrast indicating an alternative?  Or is the contrast in the context
comingled with the meaning of `really'?

It's a tricky question because of the nature of comparison versus
contrast: comparison has bits of contrast, contrast has bits of
comparison.  When you have a word which sets up a relationship between
two things where the second is MORE than the first, what happens when
the second is fundamentally different than the first?

This is where Gal. 4:9 comes in.  Is Paul contrasting or is he saying
the later is comparatively better than the former?  He isn't rejecting
the former.  Does MALLON bring `alternativeness' or `contrastiveness'
to the text?  What do you get from the text if you drop MALLON
altogether?  Would contrast still be there?  Would alternative still
be there?

ISTM the contrast is set up in Gal. 4:9 by the inversion of love's
direction.  MALLON then adds "betterness" to the later.

Those are the questions which go through my mind.  I tend to think of
MALLON as bringing a heightening sense to the text.  Carl Conrad was
right to correct me with my use of the word `superlative'.  I
overstated.  What was going through my mind at the time was this sense
of heightening or strengthening which I think MALLON brings.

Also, lastly, I notice L&N note an idiom ALLA MALLON (89.125).
Apparently, the people speaking the language felt some need to throw
an ALLA in there in order to bring out the contrast.

> With all that said, I have no answer for the question, just more
> questions.

And most certainly all the questions regarding MALLON are NOT answered
for me either.

Mike Sangrey
msangrey at
Landisburg, Pa.
                        "The first one last wins."
            "A net of highly cohesive details reveals the truth."

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