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

Tony Pope borikayaama_tekiri at sil.org
Mon May 18 13:36:20 EDT 2009

Iver (and all),

Yes, your point is taken that the hopeful workers are not likely to have sat around the whole time,
and Jeremias' comment may be going too far. Certainly, had they been sitting they would at least
have got to their feet when a potential employer arrived on the scene.

However, my real interest is in the lexical meaning of hISTHMI in the various NT passages. It seems
to me that there is such a variety of usages that we have to be careful in assigning the sense "be
erect on one's feet" in a case like Matt 20. These examples look to me more akin to the sense
"stop", which is elsewhere well attested, or "be stationary", in the sense that the normal
day-to-day working life of these men was brought to a halt, so to speak, by the fact that they were
unemployed. In other words, it is not a matter of bodily posture at all.

Another example, rather different, is Acts 5:25.
ἰδοὺ οἱ ἄνδρες οὓς ἔθεσθε ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ εἰσὶν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ἑστῶτες καὶ διδάσκοντες τὸν λαόν.

I subscribe here to the view that the purpose of hESTWTES is not to detail the bodily posture of the
apostles as they were teaching in the temple court. Whether they were standing or not is not stated.
It is not even that the text says they were standing but we suspect they are likely to have been
sitting and so it need not be taken literally, but that hESTWTES means something like "they have set
themselves up" in the temple court.

Does this kind of comment ring true with anyone who has read a lot of non-biblical Greek, or would
you rather rule it out?

Tony Pope

Iver Larsen wrote on 16.5.09:

To me, there is a lot of speculation here, and I am not convinced yet regarding any of these four.
Let me speculate some more.
The master said: "Why are you standing here, (being) idle the whole day?"
I don't think the text implies that they have been standing in the same spot the whole day, but they
were obviously not having work to do. If they had been present 2 hours earlier standing at the same
spot, would they not have been employed by the master? Maybe they had walked around different places
looking for work without success and now they stood where the master came looking for workers?
In my part of the world, people looking for jobs are normally standing. Sitting down might give the
impression that they are lazy and not eager to find work. I don't know how it was in Israel at the
time of Jesus and I would be happy to know more about that, if there is evidence one way or the
Having said that, I agree that the standing is certainly not in focus, and possibly should not be
taken literally. The point is that they have not been hired the whole day. In my own translation in
Danish, I used "stand" in the first half of the verse, but I did not use it in the speech, but
rather used an idiom: "Why have you walked without work the whole day?" and this does not imply
walking around, but having been in the state of not having work. TEV and NLT have made similar

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