[B-Greek] Synonym study

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Tue Oct 13 08:35:15 EDT 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Randall Buth" <randallbuth at gmail.com>
To: "Iver Larsen" <iver_larsen at sil.org>
Cc: "B Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 12. oktober 2009 20:06
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Synonym study

> shalom Iver,
> On Mon, Oct 12, 2009 at 6:02 PM, Iver Larsen <iver_larsen at sil.org> wrote:
>>> Iver egrapse
>>>> As I studied the occurrences in the GNT where MIMNHSKOMAI occurs 23 times
>>>> (0 in
>>> LXX) and MNHMONEUW occurs 21 times (26 in the LXX), I suggest that there
>>> is a
>>> slight difference. Whether that holds up to closer scrutiny, I don't know,
>>> but
>>> it is worth looking into.>
>>>> MNHMONEUW is basically, I think, "keep in mind" or "retain in memory"
>>>> (you'll
>>> find these glosses in BAGD). The idea is that you should not forget what
>>> you
>>> already know. (I remember the good old days.)>
>>>> MIMNHSKOMAI is basically "come to mind, realize". The Middle/Passive
>>>> forms
>>> correspond somewhat to English "it occurred to me". Some event or thought
>>> made
>>> me realize something. If an imperative is used it is "put to mind, think
>>> about
>>> it." (When I had closed the car door, I remembered that I had left the
>>> keys
>>> inside.)>
>>> When looking at words with different lemma in a dictionary one must be
>>> careful to
>>> see how they pattern in usage of the language. There are many verbs
>>> that function
>>> as 'suppletives' or "near suppletives". For example, most NT students
>>> link BLEPEIN
>>> to IDEIN 'see', though in older Greek it is more common to link ORAN
>>> to IDEIN. Both
>>> linkages are 'suppletives', pieces of older words that recombine to
>>> form newer verbs.
>>> MNHMONEYEIN and MNHSQHNAI are two such words that are near suppletives in
>>> Koine.
>>> Your statistics on the verbs above could mention that MNHSQHNAI is
>>> 21/23 (aorist
>>> while MNHMONEYEIN is 19/21 (present/PARATATIKH).
>> If one ONLY occurred in the aorist and the other ONLY occurred in the
>> present, I would happily buy your thesis of suppletives.
> Hmmm?!
> So BLEPEIN wouldn't be a suppletive with IDEIN because BLEPSAI occurs?
> Or would you teach a student to say ORW TO DENDRON?
> I find ORAN somewhat restricted in KOINH and use BLEPEIN as plain vanilla
> 'see'.

Well, I think the issue is too complex and language too fluid to make 
comparisons like that.
I don't teach Greek, but am only a student, but when it comes to the 
imperatives, it is interesting that we find both the normal IDE for the aorist 
imperative and the unusual BLEPSON in Act 3:4. Is there a semantic disctintion 
that is going out of use? IDEIN is as far as I know only used in the aorist (341 
times in the NT). There are two aorists of BLEPEIN in the NT (Act 3:4 and Rev 
22:8) out of a total of 132. Here the statistics are so overwhelming that I 
doubt there is any semantic difference at all between the two verbs.
Concerning the present imperatives hORA(TE) and BLEPE(TE), both are used in the 
NT with hORAN accounting for 13 and BLEPEIN for 28. I would think that some 
semantic difference might still be felt when you have such a choice. It is 
difficult to know whether these are exact synonyms or very near synonyms, but 
generally speaking, exact synonyms are rare.

Why two synonyms as imperatives? Is it simple repetition or is there a different 
nuance? Like be on guard, take care?

> Many things in language allow newer configurations to occur along
> with older forms and usages. So there should be room for inconsistencies
> or usage that is outside the common pattern.

Yes, I am aware of language shifts and a time when two forms overlap without any 
distinguishable meaning difference. When that is the case, and when there is 
still some meaning difference, I find difficult to judge, not being a native 
speaker of Koine Greek.

>> I accept that the subtle distinction in meaning may not be maintained in the
>> portions of the GNT most influenced by Hebrew, such as Revelation and Luke
>> 1. As I mentioned only one of the words appear in the LXX.
> In principle I would agree that one always wants to look for differences when
> the morphology is different. But there is a lot of collapsing and
> overlap in the Greek system.
> Sometimes there is more than people are aware of in Hebrew, too.
> Like when niggashti 'I came' (nif`al past) forms a pair with eggash 'I will
> come' (qal future). I've heard people try to "exegete" the difference, but the
> difference is just tense (TAM), not semantic vocab/binyan.
> I don't think that MNHSQHNAI and MNHMONEYEIN relate to either Hebraisms
> or Aramaisms, it's a Greek phenomenon. MNHSQHTI KAI MEMNHSO TOYTO.
> That distinction doesn't exist in Hebrew. It's Greek.
> For  MNHMONEYE in Mishnaic Hebrew we do have "hve zoxer", and the
> above could all be "zxor".

Would that not explain the total absence of MNHSQHNAI in the LXX? The difference 
is a Greek phenomenon not found in the LXX because it is not found in Hebrew?

Iver Larsen 

More information about the B-Greek mailing list