[B-Greek] Question on DE

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Apr 17 05:39:04 EDT 2006

On Apr 16, 2006, at 11:51 PM, Larry Wilson wrote:

>> "When DE is used with times of the day or divisions of the day it  
>> simply means
>> "near to" or "close to" or "just before" that hour or time of the  
>> day. When it
>> is not used then the reference is to during that time." End of quote
>> Is this true? I had never heard of this until this year and I have  
>> heard it
>> from two different sources that balance the seeming contradiction  
>> between John
>> 19:14 "the sixth hour" and the "third hour" of the synoptics.  
>> Thanks for your
>> help,<<
> Well, I had a look at the lexical references, and could find  
> nothing indicating
> this.  I don't have a copy of Denniston's *Particles*, maybe  
> something in there?
> He needs to supply proof of the assertion, remembering that the use  
> of particles
> can be highly idiosyncratic with certain authors.
> The above issue as to whether DE could represent "just before" here  
> briefly stems from the following:
> 1.   That DE appears in use as an adverb in later usage as "not"  a  
> variation of OUDE(V) or MEDE(V).   In some Greek writings OUDEV and  
> MEDEV became OU, ME and DEV and then the final -V was dropped to  
> become DE.  Thus in several Greek Lexicons you will find DE(V)  
> listed with the definition as "not."   But in koine Biblical Greek,  
> the final -V is already dropped and thus not appears as OUDE or  
> MEDE but more often simply OU or ME.  So the tendency to simplify  
> "not" is already present as ME and OU and sometimes OUV, which begs  
> the question whether or not at John 19:14 DE is appearing as "not",  
> in which case, It was NOT preparation could be understood as  
> meaning "just before", DE in its most direct application being used  
> to express "not quite".

(1) I note that you use BOTH "V" and "N" in transliteration to  
represent the consonant Nu; we do NOT use the "V" at all in our  
standard B-Greek transliteration scheme.

(2) The DE that derives from OUDEN/MHDEN is altogether unrelated to  
the ancient Greek particle DE and one should never suppose a DE in an  
ancient Greek text to be that later Greek negative adverb. So any  
importation of that supposition to the question of these Koine Greek  
NT texts is inappropriate and misconceived.

(3) I think that's really quite enough to obviate further  
consideration of this question. I have no idea where the opening  
citation came from, but it is meaningless and inapplicable to ancient  
Greek texts.

> 2.  Next importantly, if one makes this presumption for DE  
> PARASKEUH here to qualify as "not quite preparation" and thus a  
> reference to the afternoon just preceding preparation, one would  
> not expect it to be used with PARASKEUH (preparation) when it is  
> clearly referencing the day of preparation.  In that regard, five  
> other references to preparation at the time just before Jesus is  
> being placed into the tomb do not use DE PARASKEUH.    For instance:
> it was BUT preparation
> It was preparation
> preparation it was
> day was of preparation
> Also JOHN 19:42 and MATT. 27:62
> Out of six references noting preparation in relation to Jesus'  
> death, only John 19:14 uses DE, which if it were of critical  
> distinction in relation to preparation as "not" could be understood  
> to refer to just before preparation.  In that case, the trial prior  
> to Jesus' crucifixion at 9 o'clock (i.e. third hour, per Mark  
> 15:25) would not conflict with the death of Jesus at 3:00 p.m.
> As is currently translated, the trial at noon on the same day as  
> preparation (but preparation) as the day he dies means Jesus' death  
> takes place within three hours of the trial.
> So the question is, in lieu of claiming John is directly  
> contradicting the Synoptic Gospels, will the use of DE here, if it  
> can actually be established as possibly being used as an adverb as  
> "not" let John off the hook?
> 3.  Finally, there's the issue of the use of DE with other times of  
> the day that become interesting, most particularly a reference to  
> the same time of the day, the afternoon period from noon to  
> nightfall in the form of DE EPAURION.   PAURION, EPAURION and DE  
> EPAURION appear in the gospels.  When the question becomes whether  
> or not DE EPAURION is a reference to the afternoon period from noon  
> to nightfall if DE is used as "NOT" meaning "not quite" or "not  
> yet", two other references continue the context of that period  
> (Acts 10:3, 30, ninth hour;10:9, sixth hour).
> When a check made of some extra-Biblical Classical Greek texts was  
> made, several references in Polybius utilized three versions of  
> EPAURION with DE including DE THN EPAURION, DE EPAURION and most  
> importantly the contracted D'EPAURION, as well as EPAURION alone as  
> do the gospels.  The contracted D'EPAURION suggests a distinction  
> in time reference when DE is used with EPAURION than when it is  
> not, and if it carries the negative meaning of "not" or "not quite"  
> then it would reference the time just before the next day.    In  
> Jewish culture, the next day began at nightfall; in Roman culture  
> the reference would be to sunrise.
> I bring this up because in this casual comparison it seems as  
> though the expression of 'D'EPAURION' which shows up in Polybius in  
> the 3rd century BCE as a reference to the last quarter of the day  
> before the next (i.e. Midnight to sunrise) was adapted into Jewish  
> cultural reference in concept as DE EPAURION in reference to the  
> last quarter of the Jewish day, which would be noon to nightfall.   
> Thus DE EPAURION was a reference equivalent to our afternoon  
> period.  But that formed a basis for substitution using a specific  
> type of day that began at nightfall, such as preparation.   thus DE  
> EPAURION became DE PREPARATION, equivalent to a reference to the  
> afternoon before the next day, or in the case of John 19:14 the  
> afternoon before the specific next day of preparation.
> SUMMARY QUESTION:  So based upon the above, the question for the B- 
> Greek scholarship is whether or not DE is sometimes being used as  
> an abbreviation of OUDE/"not"  in a few select references when it  
> comes to times of the day, primarily founded upon the older Greek  
> reference of DE EPAURION possibly being coined to represent the  
> last quarter of the day before the next "morrow", in Roman culture  
> a time from midnight to sunrise, adapted by the Jews to the similar  
> period before their next day from around noon to nightfall.    This  
> seems a reasonable consideration because DE is not consistently  
> used with EPAURION or PREPARATION, but especially since John 19:14  
> is unique in using DE with PARASKEUH where as five other references  
> in the gospels do not, those five references clearly occurring on  
> the day of preparation whereas John 19:14 is otherwise in  
> contradiction if the DE is ignored and not translated as "It was  
> not (DE) preparation" meant it was not yet preparation and thus the af
>  ternoon before Jesus' death.
> That, in turn is simplified into whether or not John 19:14 has been  
> commonly mistranslated or not?  But fundamental to this would be  
> also whether or not instances of DE EPAURION are always references  
> to the afternoon period which occurs just before the next Jewish day.
> If DE EPAURION can be confirmed to represent the last quarter of  
> the day approaching sunrise in Greek culture, with the adaptation  
> to the same last quarter of the day in Jewish culture prior to  
> nightfall, then it could be argued that DE on occasion had already  
> become an abbreviation for OUDE/"not" in times earlier than the 6th  
> century, when it begins to appear more prominently in written  
> works, keeping in mind that most conventions of language occur  
> first in the spoken form and then becomes acceptable in the formal  
> written form, but in the case of KOINE Greek, this adaptation would  
> have shown up earlier since koine Greek is a less formal Greek and  
> closer to the common spoken Greek.
> Sorry for the extra long post but that's basically what I have  
> found so far based upon text comparisons and the various meanings  
> for DE over the ages.
> Larry Wilson
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Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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