[B-Greek] MISEW in Lk 14:26

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Thu Oct 29 00:56:56 EDT 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Aaron Marshall" <greekmeister1 at hotmail.com>
To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 27. oktober 2009 23:28
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] MISEW in Lk 14:26

> Hi Elizabeth,
>> J. W. WEVERS, Noteson the Greek Text of Genesis (SBLSCS 35; Atlanta
>> 1993) p. 471
>> "So MISEITAI is intended as 'less loved'."
> I differentiate what a word means from how a speaker or writer uses it in a 
> particular context.  I actually believe that in some contexts the intended 
> meaning of MISEW is something along the lines of "love less", but that is not 
> what the word actually means lexically, which was originally my point.  I 
> don't believe that because someone uses hyperbole with MISEW (Jesus, the 
> writer/editor of Genesis) we should postulate new meanings for the word. 
> Let's allow the word to mean what it means and recognize rhetoric and figures 
> of speech where we see them.  I'm probably way off of the reservation by 
> modern linguistic standards for saying this.
> Aaron Marshall

Hi, Aaron,

You are not way off at all, although what a word "means" is a rather complex 

And you are quite right that what we are dealing with in Lk 14:26 and many other 
places is a figure of speech, hyperbole (exaggeration). This is very common in 
Hebrew culture and language together with the tendency to speak in extremes for 
rhetorical effect. So, an expression like "hate x and love y" taken as an idiom 
means to put higher priority on y than x or something like that. Similarly "all" 
and "none" are often to be understood as intended to "mean" "many" and "few".

If some dictionaries include "love less" as a "sense" for the word, it must be 
because they are trying to assist the user in how this might be translated when 
used in a literal rendering from Hebrew. They are putting into the lexical item 
what does not properly belong there, but is part of the linguistic and cultural 

How one translates MISEW in Lk 14:26 depends on what one demands of the reader. 
If the reader knows Hebrew culture and understands that it is meant as a 
hyperbole, a literal rendering is adequate, but if the reader does not have such 
a background, a literal rendering is likely to be misunderstood.

Iver Larsen 

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