[B-Greek] hESTHKA and KAQIZW as "I am" (was "hESTWTA" (Acts 7:55 + 56))

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Thu May 14 19:48:10 EDT 2009

I usually find your arguments convincing and I'm not
going to stop now just because you've convinced me that
I was more or less wrong.  Nice work. 
Mark L. 

--- On Thu, 5/14/09, Iver Larsen <iver_larsen at sil.org> wrote:

From: Iver Larsen <iver_larsen at sil.org>
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] hESTHKA and KAQIZW as "I am" (was "hESTWTA" (Acts 7:55 + 56))
To: "Mark Lightman" <lightmanmark at yahoo.com>, "B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Thursday, May 14, 2009, 8:06 AM

Hi, Mark,

I asked because I could not find any examples in the NT when I looked at all instances of this verb, nor could I find support for it in BAGD. However, I cannot rule it out completely, and Liddell Scott suggests it as a possibility for Classical Greek:

"B. Pass. and intr. tenses of Act. to be set or placed, to stand, Hom.:-often merely for EINAI, to be there, Od., etc.; with an Adv. to be in a certain state or condition, hINA CREIAS ESTAMEN.. in what a state of need we are, Soph., etc."

See comments below:

----- Original Message ----- From: Mark Lightman
To: B-Greek ; Iver Larsen
Sent: 14. maj 2009 15:34
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] hESTHKA and KAQIZW as "I am" (was "hESTWTA" (Acts 7:55 + 56))

An example of where ISTNMI in the perfect probably means
hEISTEKEISAN hEXW ("Your mother and brothers are
standing (=are) outside."  Some of the family may have
been sitting at the time.)  An example of where KAQIZW
probably means "I am: "Acts 18:11 EKAQISEN DE ENIAUTON
TOU THEOU ("[Paul] sat (=was) among them a year and six
months teaching the word of God."  He did not stay seated
the whole time.)  KAQIZW is probably influenced by
Hebrew YASHAV which means "I sit" or "I dwell."
I don't see any reason to suggest anything but that they were standing outside the house eager to get to Jesus.
For Acts 18, he "sat teaching". Those two words go together. Of course, he could not sit and teach 24/7, but that is understood and not important. Whenever he taught, he sat. I see no need to suggest any Hebrew influence here. The fact that I would not use "sat" here when translating, is a matter of English, not Greek.

What Bauer says of hISTHMI in the perfect applies to
verbs of sitting as well "Very often the emphasis is
less on 'standing' than on being, existing." (II.2.b.)
The fact that the emphasis at times is less on standing does not imply that the person is not standing, only that the standing is not in focus. It is correct that both words have extended senses, but that does not alter the difference between the two words when used in their primary senses.

Compare this passage, Acts 7:55 and  Mk. 16:11
sat down (=was) at the right hand of God.")  I think
"standing at the right hand" and "sitting at the right hand" are just
two indiscriminately pleonastic ways of saying "at the right hand,"
and, for that matter, "at the right hand" is just a pleonastic way
of saying "with."  But you know all this,  don't you, Iver, so
I'm not sure why you asked for examples.  You do a much
better job at this than I do.
Well, I don't think we can draw that kind of conclusion. Sitting and standing are associated with different kinds of behaviour. Sitting often implies authority and is associated with teaching or judging. An accuser, defendant, witness and the accused would stand before the sitting judge. People praying usually stood, but might kneel down or even prostrate themselves on the ground. The right hand side means next in authority when the people are sitting down. You do have that in Mark 16:19 (not 11), which you are quoting above. In Acts 7:55-56, the text says that Jesus is standing, and there is no reason to speculate that he did anything but stand up. Whether God sat down in this vision is not stated. Quite often angels or others stand around God sitting on the throne. (E.g. Rev 8:2, 2 Chron 18:18).
I think this was A. J.'s original question, whether standing here
necessarily literally means standing.
That is possible, and if so my answer would be that he is literally in a standing position, not sitting, because that is what the text says, and the context does not suggest anything else. The NET note says: "The picture of Jesus standing (rather than seated) probably indicates his rising to receive his child."
Commentators have suggested various reasons for the standing, e.g. Bruce says among other things:
"Most probably Stephen's words should be taken closely along with Jesus' promise: "everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8; in Matt. 10:33 "the Son of Man" is replaced by "I"). That is to say, Jesus stands up as witness or advocate in Stephen's defense. Stephen appeals from the adverse judgment of the earthly court, and "in the heavenly court . this member of the Son of Man community is already being vindicated by the head of that community - the Son of Man par excellence (C. F. D. Moule)."

Iver Larsen


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