George F Somsel gfsomsel at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 2 13:27:07 EDT 2009

ζητέω [ZHTEW] is simply to seek or desire.  The object which one seeks is what determines whether it is locative or otherwise.  One may seek information, an object or a place.

… search for truth, hear truth, 
learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, 
defend the truth till death.

- Jan Hus

----- Original Message ----
From: "Daniel, Robert S" <rob.daniel at hp.com>
To: B-Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, October 2, 2009 9:15:00 AM
Subject: [B-Greek] BDAG on TI ZHTEITE

I looked up ZHTEW in BDAG to find what meaning it assigns to the usage in John 1:38. They list this usage under the third meaning, which has to do with desire and wishes, and specifically say that here it means "What do you want?" They also mention "TI ZHTEIS" in Gen. 37:15 as a species of this usage. Especially in the Gen 37:15 usage, it seems that the question clearly has to do with the attempt to determine the geographical location of something, in this case Joseph's brothers, and not with Joseph's wishes or desires. I think it was the first meaning given for ZHTEW that has to do with determining the location of something in space (sorry, I don't have my copy of BDAG at hand at the moment), so listing TI + ZHTEW under the third meaning seems to exclude this sense.

So there seems to me to be a disconnect here. Can someone explain why BDAG chose to assign this particular meaning to "TI ZHTEITE"? Am I perhaps not understanding the BDAG entry correctly, or is the BDAG entry wrong, or something in between?

Originally this question came up because I was trying to find out why the NIV translates Jesus' question in John 1:38 as "What do you want?" whereas the NRSV has it "What do you seek?" Seeking seems to carry the sense of determining the spatial location of some object or person (e.g. Jesus' temporary residence), whereas wanting does not. Of course this is a translation question, so off bounds to the list, but I believe the question of meaning is not off bounds, so please take my question as a question of meaning and of what might lie behind BDAG's choice of what meaning to assign to this usage.

Rob Daniel
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