[B-Greek] hAGNIZOMAI with the genitive in I Tr 3:13

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Wed May 27 13:09:16 EDT 2009

On May 27, 2009, at 8:55 AM, Nikolaos Adamou wrote:

> I did not have any time the other day, and just put the facts, I  
> think words speak on their own.
> There are words in Greek that do not have an equivalent counterpart  
> in English.  If we use dictionaries, it is good if we go back and  
> forth to both languages.
> Yes, ἁγνίζομαι (hagnizomai)in English dictionaries is given  
> as dedicated.  But the Greek verb takes its meaning of the same  
> rooted adjective ἁγνὸς  (hagnos)that is given as Chaste or  
> pure.  But chaste is ἀδιάφθορος (adiafthoros) and pure is  
> καθαρὸς both of which are characteristics or ἁγνὸς  
> (hagnos), but not exactly ἁγνὸς (hagnos).

Good Greek-English lexica (by which I'm referring specifically to  
BDAG, LSJ, and L&N)  don't ordinarily attempt to define words in terms  
of any single equivalent word; rather they attempt to distinguish  
senses in which words have been used -- usages -- in the textual  
corpus which they claim to represent. For several decades they have  
been scrupulously careful to steer clear of what is commonly termed  
the "etymological fallacy," i.e. the attempt to demonstrate usage of  
words as necessarily dependent upon and  directly derivative of root  
forms with which they are cognate. While there is unquestionably an  
etymological relationship between hAGNIZOMAI and hAGNOS, it is a  
questionable procedure to endeavor to derive any or all particular  
usages of a cognate verb such as hAGNIZOMAI from an acknowledge root  
hAGNOS/H/ON. While etymology can offer clues, usage has to be  
characterized in terms of contextual settings.

> In Greek, the verb is the action or the state of been of what a noun  
> or an adjective of the same root describes.  The meaning of the word  
> comes in its root, and not in its grammatical form.
> Thus, I think that ἁγνίζομαι (hagnizomai)is the process of  
> becoming ἁγνὸς (hagnos).  Then why the dictionary gives  
> another explanation.  I thing that ἀφιερώνομαι  
> (afierwnomai) is also related, since its root is ἱερὸς  
> (hieros) become holy, dedicated to God.  Thus, the one that is  
> dedicated to God, becomes ἁγνὸς  (hagnos), becomes  
> ἄμωμος(amwmos).

I'm not sure when the verb ἀφιερώνομαι may have been  
coined; it doesn't seem to be an ancient verb itself, although it is  
pretty clearly related to the ancient Greek verb ἀφιερόω:
ἀφῐερόω hallow, consecrate, τῷ Κρόνῳ Ath.3.110b, cf.  
D.S.1.90 (Pass.), Plu.2.271a; πόλιν τῇ Αητῷ καὶ τῷ  
Ἀπόλλωνι OGI746.2 (Xanthus, ii B.C.).
Pass., ταῦτ' ἀφιερώμεθα I have had these expiatory  
rites performed, A.Eu. 451.

> Look at the verbs of Ignatius' Letter to the Trallians 13:2-3, and  
> the final point εὑρεθείητε ἄμωμοι (euretheietai  
> amwmoi).  Then 2 & 3 are directions, suggestions wishes of how  
> Trallians will be find blameless.
> 1.  ὑποτασσόμενοι τῷ ἐπισκόπῳ καὶ  
> τῷ πρεσβυτερίῳ
> 2. ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους
> 3.  ἁγνίζεται  τὸ πνεῦμα (ὅταν θεοῦ  
> ἐπιτύχω  - ὑπὸ κίνδυνόν εἰμι)
> 4. πληρῶσαί τὴν αἴτησιν
> 5 εὑρεθείητε ἄμωμοι
> All of the above have to do with the fact that need to found  
> blameless.  ὑποταγή, ἀγάπη, ἁγνισμὸς  
> (hupotage, agape, hagnismos) πληρώνουν τὴν  
> αἴτησιν (not pay as it is in modern Greek, but complete the  
> petition) (plerwnoun tin aitesin)to be found blemeless.
> Allow me also one general observation.  Dictionaries are good, very  
> good, but not perfect.  When you use a Greek-English dictionary, go  
> also backwords, from English to Greek.  If there are some small  
> nuances pay attention to them.  There is the importance of the  
> word.  Chaste and pure are characteristics of hagnos, but not  
> hagnos.  Similarly, dedicate is related to hagnizomai, but is no  
> hagnizomai.  Dictionaries are not the authority, but the mean.  Some  
> feeling of the language is also important.

Unquestionably this is true. You have made clear your conviction that  
Modern Greek is not essentially different from Biblical Greek of 20  
centuries ago. Most of us readily grant that there's a clear  
continuity between the older and the later forms of the language. But  
many of us do not share your conviction, as demonstrated in your  
earlier claim that NUMFH is a regular Koine Greek word in the sense  
"wife." Some of us continue to feel, however mistaken you believe us  
to be, that there are very significant distinctions in lexicography  
and usage between ancient Greek words and modern Greek forms of the  
same or closely-related words.

> ἁγνὸς                              Chaste / Pure
> Chaste                             Αδιάφθορος
> Pure                                Καθαρός
> Dedicate                          Αφιερώστε
> ἁγνίζομαι / ἁγνίζεται          the process of  
> becoming ἁγνὸς
> ἀφιερώνομαι                    the way of becoming  
> ἁγνὸς, by dedication
> ἄμωμος                           blameless
> It seems to me that there is no one to one relationship between the  
> Greek word ἁγνὸς / ἁγνίζομαι and one only English  
> word.

So far as I know, nobody has ever argued that there is any monovalent  
equivalence between ἁγνὸς / ἁγνίζομαι and any single  
English word. You've objected to "be dedicated," and apparently to  
"dedicates itself." But hAGNIZETAI in the text in question, I Tr 3:13  
can certainly mean "makes itself holy" or "offers itself  
sacrificially" -- and one might question whether "makes itself pure"  
or "purifies itself" -- as a formulation capturing the supposed  
equation of hAGNOS/H/ON with "pure" -- is more acceptable.

I've argued in a previous message today that the problem of I Tr 3:13  
does not lie in the proper sense of hAGNIZETAI but rather in the usage  
with it of the genitive plural pronoun hUMWN. Richard Ghilardi has  
brought to bear upon that question the illuminating commentary of  
Lightfoot; I've made a follow-up suggestion about the genitive  
pronoun, but that's where the real problem lies, I think.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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