Luke 18:11

Steven R. Lo Vullo doulos at
Sun Sep 9 18:34:00 EDT 2001

on 9/9/01 8:36 AM, Carl W. Conrad at cwconrad at wrote:

> 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

Though Iver suggests that taking PROS hEAUTON with PROSHUCETO complicates
the matter, I agree with you that the simplest way to understand PROS
hEAUTON is something like "to himself," i.e., "privately." As you point out,
Luke uses this prepositional phrase with other verbs of speaking. Though in
the other examples the *plural* reflexive pronoun is used, nevertheless I
think it is profitable to compare them with the text at issue.

In Luke 20.5 we have hOI ... SUNELOGISANTO PROS hEAUTOUS LEGONTES ("they
deliberated to themselves"). Here it is clear that PROS hEAUTOUS describes a
private "huddle." Those in question did not want others outside their number
to hear them. I don't think it would be a stretch to translate this, "they
deliberated privately."

Luke 22.23 reads AUTOI HRXANTO SUZHTEIN PROS hEAUTOUS ("they began to
discuss to themselves"). Here again, because of the nature of their
discussion, they did not want others (especially Jesus) to hear what they
were saying. Another private "huddle." Again, I think "they began to discuss
privately" brings out the idea of PROS hEAUTOUS.

I think Luke 18.11 presents another context in which private communication
is the most natural way to understand PROS with the reflexive pronoun. The
Pharisee was indeed praying to God, as hO THEOS, K.T.L makes clear. But he
was doing so PROS hEAUTON, i.e., privately. His words were not intended to
be heard by others.

One of the problems I had with Iver's suggestion was that, when considered
carefully, in all the examples he offered to justify taking PROS hEAUTON
with STAQEIS the preposition PROS denoted motion *toward* something or
proximity *to* something/someone. This would seem to require us to
understand the Pharisee a standing "near" or "adjacent to" his own place,
rather than actually "in" his own place. It does no good to offer the gloss
"at," since on the basis of the Greek this could not mean occupation of the
person/thing related to PROS, only proximity.

As for Mike Sangrey's suggestion of viewing this passage in light of such
passages as Matt 23.6 and James 2.1-13, it should be noted that these texts
present entirely different contexts, different both from each other and from
Luke 18.11. The context of Luke 18.11 is the temple (TO hIERON, v. 10),
while the passages Mike proffers have in view "banquets" (Matt 23.6) or an
"assembly" (SUNAGWGHN, James 2.2). Luke 18.11 doesn't picture a group
activity, but private prayer at the temple.

Finally, there may be an irony here different from that usually proposed.
Praying PROS hEAUTON, as I mentioned earlier, should probably be taken as
private prayer. The Pharisee, comparing himself to others and listing his
righteous achievements privately so that others could not hear, thought he
was being humble. But that very prayer exposed his overweening pride.

Steve Lo Vullo
Madison, WI

More information about the B-Greek mailing list