[B-Greek] Linguistic question on Luke 1:1

Kenneth Litwak javajedi2 at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 22 16:37:28 EDT 2003

   Let me first thank those who have offered
suggestions in answer to my question.  Thanks Kent for
the linguistic pointers.  Thanks Carl for the extended
info.  I hadn't looked at Spicq, and I've been
planning a library trip to see if the papyri that
contain the word are published in transcription.  

     In answer to Mark's query, let me first say that
I think the one "meaning" that PLHROFOREW should not
be given in Luke 1:1 is "fulfilled, " as in fulfilled
prophecy.  I grant that I misspoke when I referred to
this word as formal.  It does appear, however, in a
context of more formal (what Loveday Alexander refers
to as language of the "Hellenistic schools") language
than most NT writing.  While exactly how much like
"literary" Greek of the period it is versus popular
Greek of the period, there seems to be some
disagreement.  I'm sure Carl can do a lot better job
locating it in that regard than I can.  Luke's
preface, at least, is not the low-brow NT Greek that
Deissman spoke of ( perhaps overstated position).

     Back to the fist point, the only reason that
anyone attaches to this verb the meaning "fulfill" is
because they read it in light of _possible_ meanings
for PLHROW, TELEW and similar words in Luke-Acts in
concert with the view that Luke's overall scriptural
hermeneutic is promise-fulfillment (Fitzmyer, Bock,
Denova, etc.).  If one leaves aside this debatable
hermeneutical framework, and simply says, "Here's a
DIHHESIS, which starts with a word that has a semantic
domain largely equivalent with PLHROW but probably
used by Luke because he has a penchant for using long
words (so Cadbury and Alexander) , which of the
possible meanings from the semantic domain of the word
will a reader or hearer, who presumably knows nothing
of Luke's vocabulary or theology as of the first verse
of his narrative/account, go about choosing a meaning
for the word?  I contend that "full" is not a
plausible choice because there is no place I've found,
so far, outside the NT where the word is used in
connection with prophecy.  

   Therefore, to say that a lexicon says "?fulfill" is
one meaning of the word in Luke 1:1 makes many
assumptions about what Luke might do later, according
to secondary literature, and does not, it seems to me,
ask, How can In predict which of several possible
meanings an original hearer/reader would assign for
this word, given its literary context?  A strictly
lexical approach that indicates (in theory) meanings
attested elsewhere are possible here only tells me
what flavors there are to choose from.  It does not
tell me why I should prefer one flavor over another at
a given place.  

     Let me hasten to add that I am in no way
implicitly attacking BDAG or any other resource that
In might consult myself nor claiming that I read
Luke-Acts without interpretational bias or any other
such silliness.     

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