[B-Greek] The Grrek Lexicon Is Wrong

Dan Storm danstorm at cablespeed.com
Thu Sep 27 00:25:52 EDT 2007


Good question. To my mind the English "coarse jesting" is something like 
gutter humor or dirty jokes, while EUTRAPELIA is wittier. My main point is 
that modern translations are in a rut with regard to this word and should 

But now I feel that we have belabored this thread too much.



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Webb" <webb at selftest.net>
To: "'Dan Storm'" <danstorm at cablespeed.com>; <B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 5:44 PM
Subject: RE: [B-Greek] The Grrek Lexicon Is Wrong

Just out of curiosity, Dan--

Do you think that Paul objected to wit and humor as such? What is the 
character of EUTRAPELIA that makes it "inappropriate"? If you think he's 
referring to sexual innuendos--even cleverly crafted ones--mightn't the 
subject matter itself be regarded as "coarse"?

Webb Mealy

-----Original Message-----
From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org 
[mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Dan Storm
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 4:46 PM
To: Jeffrey B. Gibson
Cc: B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] The Grrek Lexicon Is Wrong

My apologies for not adding more to my post. BDAG does indeed note, as J. 
Gibson says, wittiness’, ‘facetiousness’, etc. But then the bold definition 

coarse jesting, risqué wit.

It is that that I take issue with. I say that there is nothing coarse about 
the word.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Jeffrey B. Gibson
  To: Dan Storm
  Cc: B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
  Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 8:09 PM
  Subject: Re: [B-Greek] The Grrek Lexicon Is Wrong

  Dan Storm wrote:

    A few years ago I posted that EUTRAPELIA does not mean coarse jesting, 
but rather harmful witticism. It means something like a well-formed or witty 
turn of phrase, but one that is at the expense of another. See Ephesians 
  Umm .. are you saying that the lexicons do not note the meaning you say 
the word bears?
  If so, why is it then that we find the following in BDAG?

  εὐτραπελία, ας, ἡ (Hippocr.+, mostly in a good sense: ‘wittiness’, 
‘facetiousness’; so also Posidipp. Com. [III bc], fgm. 28, 5 K.; Diod. S. 
15, 6, 5; Philo, Leg. ad Gai. 361; Jos., Ant. 12, 173; 214. Acc. to 
Aristot., Eth. Nic. 2, 7, 13 it is the middle term betw. the extremes of 
buffoonery [βωμολοχία] and boorishness [ἀγροικία]; acc. to Aristot., Rhet. 
2, 12 it is πεπαιδευμένη ὕβρις) in our lit. only in a bad sense coarse 
jesting, buffoonery Eph 5:4. M-M.*

  And why do we find   T.K Abbot (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on 
the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, p. 149) saying this?

    εὐτραπελία. Aristotle defines εὐτρ. as πεπαιδευμένη ὔβρις. οἱ ἐμμελῷ 
παίζοντεͅ εὐτράπελοι προσαγορεύονται. But he adds that, since most persons 
are pleased with excessive jesting, οἱ βωμολόχοι εὐτράπελοι προσαγορεύονται 
(Eth. Nic. 414), i.e., as in many other cases, the extreme usurps the name 
of the near. This would justify St. Paul’s usage, were there nothing else. 
But for the adjective compare also Pindar, Pyth. 1178, μὴ δολωθῇς 
εὐτραπέλοιͅκέρδεσσʼ and 4:104, where Jason boasts that he has never spoken 
ἒποͅ εὐτράπελον. According to Dissen, the word was used “cum levitatis et 
assentationis, simulationis notatione”; but this does not seem to be the 
meaning here, where the context clearly points to licentious speech; see 
ver. 5. Trench compares the history of the Latin “urbanitas” and the English 
“facetious.” He notes that in the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus, the old man 
who describes himself as “cavillator facetus” says: “Ephesi sum natus; non 
enim in Apulis, non Animulae.”

  And why is it that E. Best ( A critical and exegetical commentary on 
Ephesians, p. 478)  has this to say?

    The final term, εὐτραπελία (the disjunctive ἤ before it marks it off as 
a distinct vice from the preceding; Ellicott), is unusual in that it was 
used in various ways (see P. W. van der Horst, ‘Is Wittiness Unchristian? A 
note on εὐτραπελία in Eph. v. 4’, Miscellanea Neotestamentica II (SupNT 48), 
Leiden, 1978. 163–77).
    The formation of the word suggests it should have a good sense and it 
often does; however as Van der Horst has shown it also had from the 
beginning ‘negative overtones nearly as often as positive ones’ (173). It 
has no necessary connection with speech and probably takes on this aspect 
from its present context and might be translated ‘suggestive language’ or 
‘smutty talk’, perhaps including humour with double entendre; it indicates 
the type of humour to be found in a pornographic magazine. Its humour ‘is 
often also at someone else’s expense’. It could describe ‘the way of life of 
urbane high-society persons, the cultivated, no doubt well-to-do young men, 
who could afford the life of a gentleman’. It can therefore have a bad 
sense, probably associated with sex. To some extent the two sins of speech 
here spell out the more general reference of 4:29. The condemnation of sins 
of the tongue is a popular ethical theme (e.g. Ecclus 28:13ff; Jas 3:1ff)

  And why do R. Bratcher and E.A. Nida  (A Handbook on Paul's letter to the 
Ephesians, p. 126) say this:

    The third Greek noun originally had a favorable meaning of “ready wit,” 
“pleasantry,” but it acquired a connotation of suggestive talk which employs 
euphemisms and double meanings. So Barth “ribald talk” NIV“coarse joking” 
TNT “suggestive language” Abbott “licentious speech.” So it means not just 
jokes as such (as RSV“levity” suggests) but dirty jokes.

  So if I've read you correctly, it doesn't look like you've researched your 
claim very well or taken account of the context of Ephesians 5:4 and how it 
makes in determining which of the (Lexicon noted) meanings with which the 
word was used it bears in Ephesians 5:4)
  Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
  1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
  Chicago, Illinois
  e-mail jgibson000 at comcast.net

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