[B-Greek] "The lexicon is wrong!"

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Sep 25 10:36:47 EDT 2007

On Sep 25, 2007, at 10:21 AM, frjsilver at optonline.net wrote:

> I'm not asserting that identical MG and KG forms are always  
> identical in meaning -- far from it!
> But occasionally they are, and this is one of the situations where  
> the correspondence is very helpful to comprehension.
> And while it's true that *some* lexikons illustrate the meaning of  
> TRAPEZA as 'bank', there are many which don't, seemingly unaware of  
> the metonym.

Which ones do you have in mind?
Even Barclay Newman's has "TRAPEZA, HS f table; food, meal; bank (Lk  
NAS Greek has: "TRAPEZA trapeza; prob. from 5064 and 3979; a table,  
dining table: —bank(1), food(1), table(9), tables(4)."
L&N have: "57.215 TRAPEZA, HS f: a place where money is kept or  
managed or where credit is established — ‘bank.’ διὰ τί  
οὐκ ἔδωκάς μου τὸ ἀργύριον ἐπὶ  
TRAPEZAN?)‘why didn’t you put my money in the bank?’ Lk 19:23.

> Father James
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Carl W. Conrad"
> Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 10:07 am
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] "The lexicon is wrong!"
> To: frjsilver at optonline.net
> Cc: Jonathan Robie , B-Greek
>> On Sep 25, 2007, at 9:00 AM, frjsilver at optonline.net wrote:
>>> Dear Friends --
>>> Oh, my! YES! There are many outstanding examples of this
>> problem
>>> and I consistently stumble across new ones.
>>> The situation is exacerbated because (in my experience,
>> although
>>> I'm far from alone in this) 'mainstream scholarship' is often
>> stuck
>>> in first gear and on the whole exhibits the same liabilities
>> as the
>>> lexikons. It's those of us outside that 'mainstream' who
>> often
>>> have a better handle on the text.
>>> Consider TRAPEZA in Acts 6. Traditionally, it was thought
>> that the
>>> apostles were 'waiting tables' at the expense of their time
>> and
>>> energy which should have been devoted to preaching and
>> teaching, so
>>> they asked the Church to select seven deacons to take over the
>>> menial work.
>>> It's true that some commentaries barely allow the possibility
>> that
>>> there might be a resonance of financial administration here,
>> but
>>> most completely miss the point.
>>> Guess what H EQNIKH TRAPEZA THS hELLADOS is? No fair peeking,
>> but
>>> I'll give you a hint: It's The National Bank of Greece!
>>> People who speak Greek get the meaning of Acts 6 right off the
>> bat,
>>> but the experts and scholars who don't speak the language are
>> too
>>> unconsciously comfortable in their dead lexikons to understand
>> what
>>> was going on.
>> I think there's a logical short-circuit here; one might just as
>> well
>> say that one who speaks (Modern) Greek may be all too
>> unconsciously
>> comfortable about understanding the usage of a modern Greek word
>> to
>> be the same as that of the ancient word so-spelled. It is not
>> quite
>> the case that those who speak Greek today speak NT Koine Greek.
>>> The apostles weren't waiting tables; they were administering
>> the
>>> common fund, and being overwhelmed by that task to the point
>> that
>>> their preaching suffered. And they weren't doling out the
>> money
>>> too efficiently either, hence the complaint of the Greek-
>> speaking
>>> Protochristians that theirwidows were getting short-changed
>> while
>>> the Aramaic-speaking community were apparently better served.
>>> Does anyone appreciate the significance of the fact that all
>> seven
>>> of the first deacons have Greek names?!
>> Or that the only work that Acts tells us of the seven actually
>> doing
>> is proclamation of the gospel to Greek-speaking audiences rather
>> than
>> EITHER waiting tables OR financial administration of
>> ecclesiastical
>> funds?
>>> They don't tell us that sort of thing in those lexikons!
>> Actually they do, if you use the right lexicons -- the ones that
>> should be consulted for ancient Greek and NT usage:
>> c. the table on which the money changers display their coins
>> (Pla.,
>> Ap. 17c; cp. PEleph 10, 2 [223/222 BC] the τραπεζῖται
>> ἐν τοῖς ἱεροῖς TRAPEZITAI EN TOIS hIEROIS) Mt 21:12;
>> Mk 11:15; J 2:15. Hence simply bank (Lysias, Isocr., Demosth. et
>> al.;
>> EpArist; Jos., Ant. 12, 28; ins; PEleph 27, 23; POxy 98 al. in
>> pap.
>> The Engl. ‘bank’ is the money-lender’s ‘bench’; s. OED s.v.
>> bank sb.3) διδόναι τὸ ἀργύριον ἐπὶ
>> τράπεζαν (DIDONAI TO ARGURION EPI TRAPEZAN) put the money in
>> the bank to bear interest Lk 19:23.—Ac 6:2 may contain humorous
>> wordplay, which mingles the idea of table service and accounting
>> procedures: serve as accountants (on the banking terminology s.
>> Field, Notes 113, referring to Plut., Caesar 721 [28, 4]; 739
>> [67,
>> 1], but w. discount of meal service as a referent. In addition
>> to
>> Field’s observations note the prob. wordplay relating to  
>> λόγος
>> (LOGOS)[for its commercial nuance s. LOGOS 2a on the same verse;
>> s.
>> also Goodsp., Probs. 126f, w. reff. to pap]. For epigraphs s.
>> RBogaert, Epigraphica III ’76 index).—B. 352 (meal); 483; 778
>> (bank).
>> LSJ s.v. TRAPEZA):
>> II. money-changer's counter, ἐν ἀγορᾷ ἐπὶ τῶν τ.
>> (EN AGORAi EPI TWN TRAPEZWN) Pl.Ap.17c, cf. Plu.2.70f; αἱ τ.
>> τῶν κολλυβιστῶν (hAI TRAPEZAI TWN KOLLUBISTWN)  
>> Ev.Matt.
>> 21.12; most freq. bank, Lys 9.5, etc.; ἡ ἐργασία ἡ
>> τῆς τ. (hH ERGASIA hH THS TRAPEZHS) the right to operate the
>> bank, D.36.6; ἡ ἐγγύη ἡ ἐπὶ τὴν τ. (hH ENGGH hH
>> EPI THN TRAPEZAN) security given to the bank, Id.33.10;
>> δοῦναι ἀργύριον ἐπὶ τ. (DOUNAI ARGURION EPI  
>> THN
>> TRAPEZAN) Ev.Luc.19.23; τὸ ἐπὶ τὴν τ. χρέως (TO  
>> EPI
>> THN TRAPEZAN CREWS) D.33.24; οἱ ἐπὶ ταῖς τ. (hOI EPI
>> TAIS TRAPEZAIS) bankers, Isoc.17.2; κατασκευάζεσθαι
>> τράπεζαν (KATASKEUAZESQAI TRAPEZAN) set up a bank, Is.Fr.66;
>> τῆς τ. ἀνασκευασθείσης (THS TRAPEZHS
>> ANAKEUASQEISHS) the bank having been broken, D.33.9; δημοσία
>> τ. (DHMOSIA TRAPEZA) public bank at Delos, IG22.2336.180 (i B.
>> C.);
>> in Egypt, POxy. 835 (Aug.), etc.; βασιλικὴ τ. in Egypt,
>> PEleph.27.22 (iii B. C.), PTeb.27.70 (ii B. C.), etc.;
>> χειριστὴς τῆς ἐν τῇ Πολέμωνος
>> PEnteux.38.1 (iii B. C.); opp. ἰδιωτικὴ τ. (IDIWTIKH
>> TRAPEZA) POxy.305 (i A. D.), etc.; κολλυβιστικαὶ τ.
>> (KOLLUBISTIKAI TRAPEZAI) ib.1411.4 (iii A. D.).
>>> Do we want to go into 'Our Father"? Maybe some other time....
>> Preferably some other time ...
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: Jonathan Robie
>>> Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 8:37 am
>>> Subject: [B-Greek] "The lexicon is wrong!"
>>> To: B-Greek
>>>> I'm involved in a discussion that revolves around the meaning of
>>>> a few
>>>> Greek words, and some of the participants in the discussion (who
>>>> actually don't speak Greek) are claiming that a particular word
>>>> doesn'tmean what it says the lexicon says, but means something
>>>> significantlydifferent. I doubt that they are right, and none of
>>>> is is a
>>>> lexicographer, but this makes me wonder ...
>>>> Can you think of examples where the meaning of a New
>> Testament
>>>> passage
>>>> has changed in the eyes of mainstream scholarship because we
>>>> came to
>>>> realize that our earlier understanding of a Greek word was
>>>> wrong? Are
>>>> there recent examples, say, in the last 20-30 years? Are
>> there major
>>>> changes in the meaning of some words between BADG and BDAG?
>>>> Jonathan
>>>> ---
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>>> ---
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>> Carl W. Conrad
>> Department of Classics, Washington University (Ret)
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
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Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Ret)

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