[B-Greek] Some Questions on John 5

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Fri Oct 9 07:36:28 EDT 2009

On Oct 8, 2009, at 9:49 PM, George F Somsel wrote:

> Sorry, Carl, but I wouldn't exactly say that EXWN is "to be in a  
> condition" here.  Anyone familiar with Spanish will be acquainted  
> with the expression "tiene X años" viewing the number of years which  
> one has lived as a possession (though meaning in English "he is X  
> years old").  EN, on the other hand does signify being in a  
> condition -- here that of being sick.

Well, apparently there is some evidence for usage of ECW with ETH in  
the sense of the Romance Language idiom (Josephus Ant. 1, 198, John  
8:57), although it doesn't seem to be a standard way of expressing how  
old a person is; that seems to be EIMI with a numeral and genitive  
ETWN or GEGONWS + numeral and acc.). BDAG s.v. ETOS: "differently w.  
the addition ἐν τ. ἀσθενείᾳ αὐτοῦ [EN THi  
ASQENEIAi AUTOU] be ill for x years 5:5 (cp. TestJob 26:1 ἐν  
ταῖς πληγαῖς[EN TAIS PLHGAIS]..) "

Seems to me that τριάκοντα [καὶ] ὀκτὼ ἔτη  
ἔχων ἐν τῇ ἀσθενείᾳ αὐτοῦ [TRIAKONTA KAI  
OKTW ETH ECWN EN THi ASQENEIAi AUTOU] would, on your reading of this  
as a Spanish dialectal usage of Biblical Greek, mean something like  
"be thirty-eight years old in his infirmity" rather than "be crippled  
for thirty-eight years."

> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Carl Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com>
> To: Elizabeth Kline <kline_dekooning at earthlink.net>
> Cc: greek B-Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Thu, October 8, 2009 6:37:17 PM
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Some Questions on John 5
> On Oct 8, 2009, at 4:35 PM, Elizabeth Kline wrote:
>> On Oct 8, 2009, at 12:34 PM, Kenneth Litwak wrote:
>>> 2.  I am wondering about the meaning of ECW in the first several
>>> verses.  John 5:2 uses ECOUSA with its typical sense of "have."  In
>>> John 5:5, however, ECWN in ECWN EN THk ASQENEIAi AUTOU, it seems
>>> that ECW must be rendered, as BDAG does, something like "having been
>>> in his illness."
>>>   While I agree with BDAG that this seems to be what has to be done
>>> in English, Louw-Nida do not list "to be/have been" as part of the
>>> semantic domain of ECW.  So I'm wondering if this usage in John is a
>>> well-established idiom or if this is a case where, whatever a native
>>> Greek speaker might have thought ECWN meant, we have to punt in
>>> English for a sentence that makes sense. Or, alternatively, is "have
>>> been" really a logical extension of the semantic domain of ECW?
>> I would suggest reading the entire entry for ECW in LSJ. ECO has a
>> vast range of meanings and functions.  It can be used to indicate
>> being or remaining in a state with the state indicated in a
>> preposition phrase. This is not unusual.
> Yes, I think that the sense of ECW here is "be in a condition" in
> conjunction with an adverbial expression. TRIAKONTA OKTW ETH and POLUN
> HDH CRONON are not objects of ECW but rather accusative of extent. IN
> BDAG this is sense #10. LSJ shows it in intransitive uses of ECW.
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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