[B-Greek] KATABOLH SPERMATOS/WN (was "Translating Hebrews 11:11")

Tom Moore tom at katabiblon.com
Mon May 4 11:21:18 EDT 2009

Thank you, Iver and Yancy, for lots of great information to consider. An excellent point-counterpoint. ("Jane, you ignorant PORNH. Dan, you pompous ONOS.") 

re:"the subject in the Greek has to be Sarah"

This question is not necessarily for Iver, but for the list. For many, the relegation of Sarah to a "Hebraic circumstantial clause" (per Metzger) appears to be the Spruce Goose of arguments. Why does it not fly?

I also found a couple more references via Google to KATABOLH SPERMATOS:

1) In another B-Greek discussion of Hebrews 11:11, this one July 2007, George Somsel found this note from H. W. Attridge's commentary on Hebrews:

52 A good example of the usage is Apoc. Ezra 5.12: ὥσπερ γεωργὸς καταβάλλει τὸν σπόρον τοῦ σίτου ἐν τῇ γῇ, οὕτως καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος καταβάλλει τὸ σπέρμα αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῆς γυναικός, “Just as a farmer casts down the seed of corn into the earth, so a man casts down his seed into a woman’s place” (OTP 1.576). Cf. also Philo Op. mund. 132; Cher. 49; Ebr. 211; Epictetus Diss. 1.13.3; Corp. Herm. 9.6.; Marcus Aurelius Med. 4.36; and see Friedrich Hauck, “καταβολή,” TDNT 3 (1965) 620–21.

2) A 9th century review by Patriarch Photius I of Constantinople (ca. 810 - 893) of Theodore Mopseustia's (ca. 350 - 428) "Against the Defenders of Original Sin" in the Bibliotheca of Photius:
 177. Theodore of Antioch (Mopsuestia), Against those who say that men sin by nature and not by intention
 Πέμπτον, ὅτι τὸν γάμον, ἤτοι τὴν τῆς μίξεως ὄρεξιν καὶ τὴν τοῦ σπέρματος καταβολὴν [THN TOU SPERMATOS KATABOLHN] καὶ πάντα δὴ τὰ τοιαῦτα, ἀφ´ ὧνπερ κατὰ διαδοχὴν τὸ ἡμέτερον γένος αὔξεται, τῆς μοχθηρᾶς ἔργα φασὶ φύσεως, εἰς ἣν διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας πεσὼν ὁ Ἀδὰμ τῇ τῆς φύσεως κακίᾳ τὸν ἐσμὸν ἐδέξατο τῶν κακῶν. Ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν τῶν αἱρετιζόντων τοιαῦτα.

The fifth point is that marriage, they say, or the desire of carnal union and the ejection of seed and all that is of that domain and by which our species perpetuates itself and increases itself are works of the evil nature into which Adam fell through sin to receive all the weight of the evils because of his sinful nature.  Such are thus the positions of the heretics.

Tom Moore

>  -------Original Message-------
>  From: Iver Larsen <iver_larsen at sil.org>
>  Subject: Re: [B-Greek] KATABOLH SPERMATOS/WN (was "Translating Hebrews	11:11")
>  Sent: May 03 '09 09:14
>  Thanks to Elizabeth and Carl for these citations and to Yancy Smith for helpful comments that he had
>  trouble getting through to the list, so he sent them to me. I am not getting much support, but I
>  would still like to present my views, not expecting many to agree. Please bear with me if this goes
>  somewhat into translation, but any translation reflects a particular understanding of the Greek text
>  and context.
>  These are all questionable, because the subject in the Greek sentence has to be Sarah, and the
>  phrase in question does not mean "bear children", although the TNIV might be an acceptable idiomatic
>  translation and it is not far from the intended meaning.

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