The Right Preposition

dhwarren at dhwarren at
Sat Mar 30 22:12:27 EST 2002

At 3:52 PM -0500 3/25/02, Richard Ghilardi wrote:
>Dear B-greekers,
>I am attempting to memorize Romans 8 from my GNT. So far I've got the
>first 8 vss down pretty solidly. But I've bumped up against a practical
>problem. I cite the reference as well as the vss in Greek but I'm not
>sure what preposition to use when citing a range of vss. For example in
>English we say:
>"Romans eight one through (to) four"
>In Greek I would say:
>Which prep. should I use? (Perhaps one I have not listed)
>Which prep. did the ancient writers use when citing a range of numerals?

Modern Greeks use STICOS (normally written without the final S) when referring to a
"verse" in the Bible, and I think that--anachronistically at least--it would therefore
be the proper term for Richard Ghilardi to use, in spite of the ancient meaning of
"stich" (= "line" of text; cf. the near synonym "colon"). KEFALAION is the term for

As for the proper preposition when citing a range of verses, I have always used APO
and MECRI ("from . . . to").

"Carl W. Conrad" wrote:

> I must say this strikes me (and I speak ONLY for myself) as a rather
> perverse sort of exercise, although perhaps no more perverse than our
> efforts one Saturday afternoon several years ago on this list to translate
> Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" into Koine Greek. Of course the sectioning
> into verses is a later development and in enough instances questionable in
> its execution, so why make it part of a learning exercise. All of which
> doesn't respond to the question.
> I think that the proper preposition is DIA with the genitive, since that
> tends to be inclusive of first and last elements in a series. Seems to me
> that references I've seen in ancient writers for citations tend to offer
> ..." So how would one refer to the verses? I dunno: STICOS is used of a line of
> prose the length of a dactylic hexameter and occasionally for a chapter. But these
> chapter and verse divisions are not original in
> any case.

As for Dr. Conrad's characterization of this "exercise" being "perverse," surely he is
limiting his remarks to citing the reference in Greek and not to the actual
memorization of these verses in Greek (?). As for myself, I have been memorizing
verses from the New Testament in Greek for over twenty-five years, and have done the
same with verses from the Hebrew Bible. Such memory work will pay dividends for the
student. He or she will thereby fix in memory better the vocabulary, the various forms
of inflection, and the idioms of the Greek language. Even more importantly, it will
greatly assist his or her interpretation of certain passages.

For example, in one of my classes at seminary the professor was expounding how Matthew
portrayed Jesus in the Garden as someone on the brink of rebellion from God by his
rejecting the cross and its suffering. Since I had memorized the Lord's prayer (Matt
6:9-13), I could point out to my professor that the very same phrase--verbatim et
litteratim--occurs in both Matt 6:10 and Matt 26:42 (GENHQHTW TO QELHMA SOU).
Depending on one's textual judgment at Luke 11:2, these occurrences in Matthew are the
only two times that this exact phrase is found in the entire New Testament (even
though different phraseology is used, this idea is an important subtheme in the Fourth
Gospel; see John 4:34; 5:30; 6:37-40; 7:17; 9:31).

I pointed out to my professor and to the class that it is significant that Matthew
uses the very same, identical phrase in these two places. However one wants to
understand Jesus' wrestling in the Garden, in the end Matthew pictures him as no more
questioning his obedience to God surrounded by his fears there in the Garden the night
before the crucifixion as he was questioning God's will there in the serene setting of
the Sermon on the Mount surrounded by his disciples as he taught them to pray.

Memorizing Scripture in Greek will help the student to make important connections that
he or she might not otherwise make. However one wishes to understand the phenomenon
experienced by Cornelius in the book of Acts, it is significant that the phrase hH
DWREA TOU hAGIOU PNEUMATOS occurs in both Acts 10:45 and 2:38. Again, this phrase
(with the minor difference in case) only occurs these two times in the entire Greek
New Testament! I find it significant that the very same writer (Luke) in the very same
book (Acts) has the very same speaker (Peter) use the very same phrase in describing
these two events, and they occur less than ten chapters apart! I can cite numerous
instances like this where my memorizing of the Greek New Testament has helped me in
recognizing parallels elsewhere in the New Testament and even in other literature
(esp. patristic literature).

In an earlier age several scholars memorized the Bible in its original languages. And
even at the beginning of the last century the very conservative theologian Adolf von
Schlatter stood out as one who had memorized much of the Greek New Testament by heart.
Perhaps he felt that his effort to memorize seemed worth the time since he believed
that he was committing to memory the "ipsissima verb Dei." That issue aside, I still
think that there are good pedagogical reasons for memorizing the Greek New Testament.
And consider how easily Johann Jakob Wettstein could readily recognize so many
parallels in his reading of literature for the preparation of his monumental _Novum
Testamentum graecum_ (Amsterdam: Dommeers, 1751-1752), or aWalter Bauer--both of them
completely the opposite from Schlatter in their ideology--must have been well versed
in his Greek New Testament to have recognized so many parallels in the preparation of
his lexicon.

As for Richard Ghilardi's desire to express in Greek the book, chapter and verses
(i.e., the actual reference) that he is quoting, I must confess to the same "perverse"

David H. Warren
former professor of the New Testament
Freed-Hardeman University

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