[B-Greek] Usage of PAIS in Luke 7:7,Matt 8:5-13

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Jun 2 08:21:07 EDT 2003

At 11:41 PM +0100 6/1/03, Mark Fairpo wrote:
>Dear B-Greekers,
>My three questions are on the heels of my last thread 'Connotations of
>PAIS in Luke 7:7,Matt 8:5-13'. (Thanks to those who responded.) I am a
>novice paddling in B-Greek.

Do not kid yourself! We are ALL of us investigators from another place and
time in a linguistic milieu in which NONE of us is really at home, even if
some of us have been working at it a bit longer.

>In the primary use of PAIS as a child, Louw & Nida state: the term PAIS
>may occur with either masculine or feminine articles and corresponding
>adjectival attributes. These gender distinctions indicate whether the
>person referred to is male or female. With the masculine article or
>attributives one may translate PAIS as 'boy,' and similarly with female
>attributives one may translate PAIS as 'girl.'
>{Q1} Applying this syntax rule to its metaphorical use as servant, or even
>DOULOS, does Matt 8:5-13 or its parallel Luke 7:1-10 indicate male or
>female? (Please explain this.) My Strong's refs seem insufficient to
>answer this.

It seems to me that indications are unmistakable in Mt 8:5-13: it is hO
PAIS and the masculine pronoun AUTON is used of this servant. In Lk 7:1-10
the servant is called a DOULOS and there too is referred to with a
masculine relative pronoun hOS.

>Summarising my findings so far: Some scholars consider PAIS a diminutive
>form itself. PAIS diminutive sense may not always be strong or even
>perceptible. For a slave, its diminutive sense is mostly social rank
>rather than age: 'possibly serving as a personal servant and thus with the
>implication of kindly regard' (Louw & Nida 87.77). The degree of affection
>is ... out of pity for their status as for a humble 2-year-old. PAIDION
>and PAIDARION are double-diminutives and used metaphorically for the sense
>of tender affection. In grammar, diminutive means denoting (i) smallness
>or (ii) the state or quality of being familiarly known, loveable, pitiable
>or contemptible.

I would avoid the term "diminutive" with regard to the usage of PAIS for
"servant"--primarily because "diminutive" normally bears the grammatical
sense  indicated in your last sentence in the paragraph above. You're
referring rather to a usage of PAIS reflecting the word-user's attitude of
affection or condescension toward the person referred to by the word--the
same attitude that is reflected in use of the second-person singular rather
than the more formal second-person pronoun of ordinary speech. In the case
of PAIS, however, I think the usage may not necessarily be either
affectionate nor contemptuous but simply conventional, so much so that PAIS
commonly enough in the LXX is used regularly to convey the Hebrew Ebhedh,
especially in the "Suffering Servant" poems of Deutero-Isaiah, and this OT
LXX usage is especially common in Acts with reference to David and Jesus as
God's "servants."

>For me, this also makes sense of diverging ideas about PAIS.
>Assuming that 'the context [of PAIS] is important in determining what is
>meant' implies Greek syntax rather than storyline (then yes for the above),

I think rather the narrative context rather than grammar is determinative
here; the grammar will help only with gender-determination.

may I also ask {Q2} is its diminutive sense 'strong or even perceptible' in
its four verses Luke 7:7 or Matt 8:6,8,13? If so (see Q3) where and what
are its hallmarks?

In my view: in Lk 7:7  and in the verses in Mt 8 the context makes
perfectly clear that PAIS means "servant" (but again I would avoid use of
the term "diminutive" for this.

>I recall once reading that the Greek grammar category, which diminutives
>formed part, are commonly endings but can also be sensed before its
>occurrence. {Q3} Does this extend to the diminutive sense? (The only
>ending I've seen elsewhere is PAISI tran. boys.)

I'm not altogether sure what you're getting at here. PAISI is simply a
dative plural ending and from this form itself outside of a context the
word could refer to children OR servants. Smyth §§852-856 lists several
standard Greek diminutive suffixes; in §855 he says, "Some words,
especially such aas denote parts of the body, are diminutive in form, but
not in meaning; as KRANION skull, QHRION beat (= QHR), PEDION plain (PEDON
ground), all in Homer, who has no diminutives. Diminutives often employed
tend to lose their diminutive value."

I think that last sentence is worth underlining--much the same is true of
superlative adjectives overused colloquially: "greatest" means simply
"good" rather than "better than any other."

§856. "Diminutives may express affection, familiarity, daintiness, and
sometimes pity or contempt ..."

>Searching for a Trainspotter's Guide to the Diminutive, I downloaded 17MB
>of William W. Goodwin's Greek Grammar from
>www.textkit.com/greek_grammar.php (worth a peek). However it's 448 scanned
>pages are not searchable, though Goodwin's sections do include "Personal

At 12:59 AM +0100 6/2/03, Mark Fairpo wrote:
>There were a couple of other points I forgot to include. Both Lidell-Scott
>on Perseus and at-least one other Lexicon/NT Dictionary explicitly state
>that PAIS in relation to its (metaphorical) social condition as a servant
>can be male or female. How much weight then has the absence of PAIDISKE
>(cf. Luke 12:45)?
Do you mean absence of the article with PAIDISKAS in Lk 12:45? It seems to
me that the context of the verse as a whole leaves no doubt that PAIDAS and
PAIDISKAS refers to male and female servants respectively.

>Vine's Expository states that DOULOS 'became the most common and general
>word for "servant," as in Matt 8:9, without any idea of bondage.' However,
>does anyone know any good arguments for seeing (Koine) use of PAIS as a

B-Greekers are accustomed to my repeated calling attention to the fact that
the Greek language of the NT era is a language in flux, meaning that
grammar and usage--including diction, vary from one geographical or social
context to another, from one person to another, and even within any one
person's common usage. I think one ought to be careful about
over-generalizing on usage of DOULOS and PAIS (PAIDISKOS, KTL.). We had
some interesting exchanges in April of 2000 over usage of DOULOS in the NT
and Paul's reference to himself as DOULOS IHSOU CRISTOU. I think the
question regarding usage of words for "slave" is complicated in the
Jewish/Christian tradition by the deep-seated conceptions deriving from the
exodus experience of Israel: Israel has been liberated from bond-service
(Abhodhah) to Pharaoh to be committed servants (Abhdhim) of YHWH; isn't
there the phrase in the prayerbook, "whose service is perfect freedom"?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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