Luke 18:11 -- Iver Larsen's suggestion

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sun Sep 9 11:20:28 EDT 2001


Chet responded:
> Iver Larsen:
> > Yes, BAGD is not helpful with this citation. The sense "by, at,
> near" is OK, though.
>
> I think not -- see below.

Since I cannot accept Ward's suggestion as plausible, though interesting, I
want to probe my own suggestion a bit more. See below.
>
> > The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed these things (to God)...
> >
> > In true Pharisee fashion he separated himself from the common man and
> > especially a despised tax collector.
>
> The problem with this suggestion is that it uses a highly idiomatic
> meaning of "by" in English (and perhaps also Danish? -- I don't have
> any Danish grammars at home, but is something like "staaende ved seg selv"
> used also in Danish? -- writing "a med ring" with "aa").  If Luke had
> used PROS hEAUTON in this sense elsewhere, one might be forced to say
> it was some kind of coincidence that English/Danish and Luke's Greek
> used the same idiom, but apparently the only other time he uses PROS
> hEAUTON (see the discussion begun by Mike Sangrey) a very different
> meaning is intended.

Since my friend, Chet, has learned some Danish let me tell him that in
Danish we would say "stående for sig selv". The one you mention means
"standing beside himself."
But let's move to Greek.

I agree that the English "by, at, near" might fit better with PROS plus
dative, but it is still appropriate with PROS plus accusative. BADG use
these glosses in both places, and rightly so. The accusative use has the
basic meaning of "towards, at, by". In Luke 18:11 the meaning is moving
towards a place of his own as a place separate from where the tax collector
was standing. Is it possible in English to say "He stood to himself" for "he
stood alone, on his own"?

This is not a special usage of PROS. Let me give a few examples. Since you
like to restrict yourself to Luke, let's do that:

Lk 3:9 hH AXINH PROS THN RIZAN TWN DENDRWN KEITAI
the axe is placed towards/at/by the root of the trees

Lk 10:39 PARAKAQESQEISA PROS TOUS PODAS TOU KURIOU HKOUEN TON LOGON AUTOU
She sat down towards/at/by the feet of the Lord and listened to his word

Lk 16:20 EBEBLHTO PROS TON PULWNA AUTOU
he had been placed towards/at/by his gate

Lk 22:56 IDOUSA DE AUTON PAIDISKH TIS KAQHMENON PROS TO FWS
A certain servant girl saw him sitting at/by the light

Lk 24:12 APHLQEN PROS hEAUTON
he went away to his own (place)

All of these involve movement towards something. Sometimes the movement is
completed so that we see the person sitting at/near/by a place.
Therefore, the meaning "by/at" in this sense is well attested.

In Lk 18:11 we saw an aorist passive participle of hISTHMI - having placed
himself. He had already moved to a place where he could stand by himself or
at his own (place).

I am afraid I don't see the problem with this usage. It seems to be good
Greek.

If a stative verb rather than a motion verb had been used KATA would
probably have been used as in

Acts 28:16 EPETRAPH TWi PAULWI MENEIN KAQ' hEAUTON
Paul was allowed to stay/live by himself (at his own place)

(A few later mss changed PROS to KATA in Lk 18:11. The original hand of
Sinaiticus forgot PROS hEAUTON and when it was added later, it was
apparently put in the wrong place.)

I think it is those who prefer to take PROS hEAUTON with "praying" who are
creating unnecessary complications.

Best wishes,
Iver Larsen




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