[B-Greek] Rev. 8:9--what died?

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Nov 13 19:31:36 EST 2006


Here's the substance of my off-list response to Webb:

To tell the truth, I don't really know. It rather looks like a tidal  
wave to me -- a tsunami -- rather like the one that hit the Indian  
Ocean a couple years ago. I would make no definitive claims about  
this -- I know that George thinks highly of this author's Greek; I  
wouldn't say out and out that it's not written by a native Greek- 
speaker, but it's certainly written by a writer who hasn't learned  
his Greek in a school. At any rate, the impression I get from the  
text in qustion is of a tidal wave that sweeps ashore and swallows up  
a vaat number of living creatures (human and non-human) and that also  
destroys great numbers of vessels afloat upon the sea. This may be  
all wet -- pure guesswork based upon a way of reading the Greek text.  
I'm even reminded of the scene of devastation in the final chapter of  
Moby Dick -- or of Aeschylus' description of the vista at sunrise  
after the storm swallowing up the Greek fleet returning from the sack  
of Troy (Agamemnon 653-660):

EN NUKTI DUSCUMANTAI D' WRWREI KAKA.
NAUS GAR PROS ALLHLHiSI QRHiKIAI PNOAI
HREIKON; hOI DE KEROTUPOUMENAI BIAi
CEIMWNI TUFW SUN ZALHi T' OMBROKTUPWi
WiCONT' AFANTOI, POIMENOS KAKOU STROBWi.
EPEI D' ANHLQE LAMPRON hHLIOU FAOS,
hORWMEN ANQOUN PELAGOS AIGAION NEKROIS
ANDRWN ACAIWN NAUTIKOIS T' EREIPIOIS.

" ... and when the gleaming sun's light rose,
we spy the Aegean sea full-flowering with corpses
of men of Greece and with the splinterings of ships."

One big question here is how we construe EN THi QALASSHi; my  
inclination is to understand it with APEQANEN, not with TWN  
KTISMATWN. Of course this author doesn't observe standard grammar  
with any regularity in any case, but in "standard" grammar I would  
expect TWN EN THi QALASSHi if that prepositional phrase were intended  
to be limiting the creatures referred to as TO TRITON TWN KTISMATWN.

Insofar as I've thought about the matter, that's what I think.

On Nov 13, 2006, at 5:21 PM, Webb wrote:

> Carl,
>
> That's a fascinating interpretation of this verse, and one that  
> differs
> dramatically from the ones that I recall hearing. Are you saying  
> that John
> is picturing something like giant waves killing a third of the  
> creatures who
> live on dry land? "And a third of living creatures drowned in the  
> sea"?
> Given that John is a second-language Greek speaker, is it  
> impossible that
> he's trying, rather clumsily, to talk about all the sea creatures  
> that had
> YUCAS, namely the air-breathers?
>
> Webb Mealy
> p.s. I sent this to you off-list by mistake. I leave it to you to  
> post your
> reply or some other reply on-list if you wish.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Carl W. Conrad
> Sent: Monday, November 13, 2006 1:20 PM
> To: Harold Holmyard
> Cc: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Rev. 8:9--what died?
>
> I think Harold has hit the nail on the head; the sense of KTISMA here
> is simple "creature." I don't think at all that sea-creatures in
> particular are meant here but rather that this is a swallowing up of
> living creatures by flood waters.
>
> On Nov 13, 2006, at 3:57 PM, Harold Holmyard wrote:
>
>> Dear Webb,
>>
>> Sorry that I posted to your personal address, too.
>>
>>> KAI APEQANEN TO TRITON TWN KTISMATWN EN THi QALASSHi, TA ECONTA
>>> YUCAS, KAI
>>> TO TRITON TWN PLOIWN DIEFQARSHSAN
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> I can't resist seeing TA ECONTA YUCAS as being a gloss on the
>>> previous
>>> phrase, indicating that he means the air breathing creatures such
>>> as whales,
>>> seals, sea lions, sea birds, dolphins, turtles and so on. It's
>>> hard to see
>>> how a fish or other gill-breathing creature has a YUCH in the
>>> biblical
>>> context.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Any comments on this phraseology?
>>>
>>
>> HH: It may be narrowing down the implication of
>> the term KTISMA. The
>> word can just mean "created thing."
>>
>> Yours,
>> Harold Holmyard
>> ---
>> B-Greek home page: http://ibiblio.org/bgreek
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>
>
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
> 1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
> cwconrad2 at mac.com
> WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/
>
>
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://ibiblio.org/bgreek
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>
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Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/





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