Luke 18:11

Chet Creider creider at
Fri Sep 7 20:11:44 EDT 2001

Some time ago I asked for assistance with determining the meaning of
the preposition in the following phrase from Luke 18:11:


There was stiff competition for attention because of a question
concerning fonts and no one tried to help.  At that time I had
consulted Zerwick (_Biblical Greek_) and Blass, Debrunner & Funk (_A
Greek Grammar of the NT_) and found nothing useful.  I also noted that
Zerwick and Grovesnor suggested the gloss "within" without giving a

Since then I have consulted Moule's idiom book (no help), I. Howard
Marshall's commentary on the Greek text of Luke, and BDAG.  The later
two take positions, but I am not happy with either of their
conclusions.  Following a brief summary of their claims, I give my own
suggestion and then indicate how I think members of this group might
help.  I ask once again that you give this question some thought.  It
is a simple linguistic question which someone with some familiarity
with Luke should be able to answer.

Marshall (p. 679):

a. The phrase "should be understood as representing an Aramaic ethic dative,
which emphasises the verb: `The Pharisee, taking his stand, prayed' [no
reason is given, but Black is cited; I regard this suggestion as highly
dubious but will be happy to accept correction if it comes with some
evidence; it evidently is Marshall's preferred meaning -- CAC]

b. "This could mean that he prayed silently rather than aloud"  -- Marshall
argues against this as unlikely in the context (Jewish practice was to
pray aloud, but quietly).  [This seems reasonable -- CAC]

c. "Grundmann's suggestion that he prayed to himself rather than to
God is too sophisticated." [I agree with Marshall's conclusion but not
with his reason; I think it is not likely, given the context or perhaps
given almost any context, that he would pray to himself -- CAC]


The 3rd edition has an extensive discussion of PROS and cites the phrase
in Luke 18:11 under sense 3, subsense g.  Sense 3 is the familiar "movement
or orientation toward s.o./s.t." and subsense g is "by, at, near".  However,
the actual gloss given for the phrase in Luke is "he uttered a prayer to
himself".  This strikes me as not likely given that the verb is PROSHUCETO.

There is another subsense in BDAG to sense 3, subsense e: "with reference/
regard to", "about".  This sense seems most plausible to me in that it 
matches most closely what the Pharisee does, namely, pray about himself.

I am not familiar enough with Luke's Greek to know if he would automatically
use PERI with the genitive to express this meaning if this had been his
intention (there are two examples from Luke in sense 3, subsense e, but
are they the only two?) and this is where I would be grateful for the help
of others.  In the absence of any replies this time, I will take my
interpretation as the most reasonable.

In conclusion, and with reference to my prior request for help in
searching the archives, let me note that I finally was able to use
netscape (my normal browser is lynx) and do a search over the last two
years.  It did not turn up anything.  The archive is not set up for
convenient searching of anything previous to the last two years, and
does not appear to contain any instructions for construction of search
strings.  Is some member of the grep family being used?  There really
should be a help file for searches, and there also should be a means of
sending a single search string through all of the previous archives.

Many thanks,

Chet A. Creider

P.S.  Here is the original post:

What is the sense of the preposition PROS in Luke 18:11:

Zerwick and Grosvenor suggest "within", and I have seen "with" and
"about" (all followed by "himself") in various English translations.
Metzger (_A Textual Commentary..._, 2nd ed.) notes that the preposition
has caused difficulty and is replaced with KATA in some versions and
in others omitted entirely.

A second question, not unrelated.  It is likely that this question
has been asked before, but I was unable to manipulate the search
engine in the archives to do more than get the first of some 106
replies to my search string of "Luke 18:11".  I use a vt100 emulation
and it is not obvious with it how to access the full string of
search results.  Is there a document which explains this anywhere?


Chet Creider

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