Luke 18:11 -- Mike Sangrey's suggestion

Mike Sangrey msangrey at
Sun Sep 9 15:20:59 EDT 2001

On 09 Sep 2001 06:40:11 -0400, Chet Creider wrote:
> Mike Sangrey wrote:
> > Seriously, I don't have an answer, but maybe Luke 24:12 offers some
> > insight.  
> > 
> > Louw & Nida state that APHLQEN PROS hEAUTON (different verb from
> > question but the same PROS hEAUTON construct) as an idiom meaning
> > return to one's place" as in "place of residence." (cf L&N 15.92)
> > 
> > Luke 24:12 is the only other case of PROS hEAUTON I could find in
> > GNT.
> > 
> > I wonder if it is too large a step to think of this as "prayed
> > concerning his position in society."  We, in English, use the word
> > `place' to signify the two ideas of `place of residence' and
> > in society':  "I got my self a place in the city, it's not much, but
> > it's home."  And, "Well!, guess I know my place around here, now."
> I think this is indeed too large a step -- if possible one doesn't
> an analysis which depends on an idiomatic sense of place in English.

O! yes, certainly.  I wouldn't want an interpretation of a Greek
constituent to be dependent on an English sense.  I was merely offering
it to simply say that at least one other language group (namely English
speakers) THINK this way.  There very well may be no correlation

> However, the suggestion from Louw & Nida is interesting when applied
> here: The Pharisee, standing in his own place (i.e. the temple),
> these things:

I've been thinking more about this phrase, especially in the light of
L&N statement regarding APHLQEN PROS hEAUTON.

Taking Iver's suggested text:

What about a rather wooden translation such as:

   "The Pharisee, stood up in his [special] place, these things was

Observations to consider:
1.  "stood up in his special place" sets up a very (IMO) appropriate
contrast between Pharisee in his "special place" and the `sinner'
standing "far off".  The parallelism is strengthened.  I note BDAG on
the aorist form of ISTHMI and the apparent emphasis on `standing firm'.
This is in contrast to the imperfect sense (cf 18:13) which has less
emphasis on standing and more on simply being.

2.  We know that there were special places in their gatherings (cf Mat.
23:6, James 2:1-13--I've included this whole section because it's
message appears to me to be so similar to the Luke 18 paragraph.)

3.  I wonder if the idiom that SHOULD be recorded in L&N is NOT `APHLQEN
PROS hEAUTON', but `PROS hEAUTON'.  That is, that PROS hEAUTON refers to
"by, at, or near his own place."  If that is true, then we can easily
explain this use in Luke 18.  Perhaps `special' is too strong; but I can
easily picture a Pharisee, standing up in a synagoge meeting, praying to
be heard by men (Mat 6:5).  Then a translation something like:  "The
Pharisee, who stood up by his place in the meeting, was praying these
things..." would be appropriate.

4.  So, in that regard, I wonder whether this is a shortened form of
PROS hEAUTON TOPON or PROS hEAUTON KANONA[1]. It makes sense to me for a
language to shorten a form (and idiomatize <smile> it) when that form is
used frequently.  People in this culture were VERY position oriented--it
was a strongly caste oriented society.  `Place' and `position' generally
track one another.  That's why some people have corner offices with nice
windows and...ummmmm...well you get the picture.  If your territory was
something that was talked about frequently, then the language would tend
to make the expressions surrounding that topic more efficient.

5.  This understanding of the phrase is perfectly consistent with the
meaning of the paragraph.

6.  It also supports Iver's text critical observation. Greek would use
this word order to naturally express the parenthetical thought of
"standing in his place" while English uses a comma delimited clause.
What I'm saying here is this:  We have a nominative (which establishes
the subject of the sentence), immediately followed by a particple and a
prep. phrase, followed by the accusative of the sentence.  The
accusative doesn't "sound" like it goes with the participial clause, so
it naturally brackets the end of the participial cluse.  And the verb
completes the sentence.  So, we have:

       hO FARISAIOS                   TAUTA PROSHUCETO
                 STAQEIS PROS hEAUTON 

STAQEIS PROS hEAUTON is naturally parenthetical.  Carl, does the above
way of looking at it answer your objection?

[1] 2 Cor. 10:12-17 uses KANWN three times.  What I find interesting
about this passage is that Paul uses this word in a context which ALSO
contains the concept of `boasting'.  Was there a sense which "one's
KANWN" was something one could BOAST about?  I don't know; but just as
we tend to use `restaurant' and `menu' in context with each other, I
wonder whether `boasting' and `KANWN' are used together.

I didn't look at the 94 uses of TOPOS to assess the likelihood that PROS
hEAUTON is a shortened form of PROS hEAUTON TOPON.

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

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