Luke 18:11

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sun Sep 9 09:36:46 EDT 2001

Chet's painstaking attention to this question and return to it in two new
posts has made me reread all of the thread to date; I may be missing
something, but it really seems to me that this is simply a matter of PROS +
acc. pron. with a verb of speaking. I'm retaining only those portions of
Chet's original message in this thread upon which I wish to make an

At 8:11 PM -0400 9/7/01, Chet Creider wrote:
>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):
. . .
>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]

I don't think it's a matter of the PRAYER being addressed to himself, but
of the SPEAKING/SPEECH ACT being directed to himself.

>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 think that BDAG has been slightly misrepresented here: I read
(substituting Arabic for the Greek lower-case subsections):
(3) w. acc. "marker of movement or orientation toward someone/something;
	(a) of going;
	(b) of sending;
	(c) of motion generally;
	(d) of leading, guiding;
	(e) of saying speaking;
	(f) of asking, praying: DEOMAI Acts 8:24;
		EUCOMAI cf. 2 Macc 9:13; 2 Cor 13:7;
		PROSEUCOMAI; Also after nouns like DEHSIS,
		LOGOS et al Rom 10:1, 2 Cor 1:18 al.

It does seem to me that sense (f) is really an extension of sense (e),
particularly inasmuch as LOGOS PROS QEON is used (Rom 10:1) of prayer to

Consequently, and especially in view of the frequency of Luke's usage of
PROS + pronoun with verbs of speaking or address, it seems to me that the
easiest way to understand  TAUTA PROS hEAUTON PROSHUCETO is that the
Pharisee may well have intended and hoped that God would hear his words (he
does, after all, use hO QEOS, the common nom. for vocative, in his opening
direct his prayer to God), but he directs the speech, the spoken words TO

Back to Grundmann's suggestion cited above, "that he prayed to himself
rather than to God", I think it's not so much that he didn't address the
words of his prayer to God as that he spoke aloud the words of the prayer


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

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