Luke 18:11 -- Iver Larsen's suggestion

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at
Sun Sep 9 16:34:07 EDT 2001

> I accept that what I wrote above was misleading, but I think that if you
> had gone on to my "below" you would have seen that I didn't mean for a
> minute that the sense of "by, at, near" for PROS was in general not OK.
> I meant that the meaning with hEAUTON _as it comes into English with "by"_
> is idiomatic and in fact not that sense at all: "by himself" doesn't mean
> anything at all like "at himself" or "near himself" but means "alone".
> Now I think I have misunderstood you, because it is that meaning that I
> thought you were suggesting when you used "by" (and my claim was that
> a highly idiomatic English sense couldn't be extended to Greek without
> additional justification).
> Assuming I am now understanding you correctly if I say you are suggesting
> that the meaning is something like "standing next to himself", I can only
> say that to me that makes no sense at all, and I don't see how it could
> make sense in any language, Greek included, as it implies being in two
> places at the same time.
> I must be missing some link in what you are thinking/writing.  It has been
> a very busy week as our academic term has just begun, and perhaps my brain
> is more addled than usual.
> Chet

Well, Chet, try reading my post again when you have more time -:)

The comment about "standing beside himself" which you rephrase as "standing
next to himself" was a translation of your attempt to speak Danish. It does
not make much sense. It had little to do with what the Greek text is saying.

What I was trying to say is that I understand STAQEIS PROS hEAUTON to mean
"standing (having placed himself) towards/at/by his own (place)". A literal
translation of this into English is a bit awkward. The meaning is that he
separated himself by standing at a distance from the tax collector - and
other ordinary people and especially sinners, I presume, just as v. 13 says
the tax collector was standing at a distance. Is it not fitting that a
Pharisee (the word deriving from those who set themselves apart from others)
should separate himself?
That is why most modern translations - except the NIV - say something
similar to the NRSV:
"The Pharisee standing by himself was praying thus..."
This may be an English idiom, but it is a perfectly good translation of the
Greek text.
Actually, there is not a lot of difference between this and Carl's
suggestion that he stood and prayed to himself, in the sense that since he
stood by himself his prayer was not heard by other people, even though
clearly directed to God.

Iver Larsen

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