[B-Greek] question regarding 1 Tim 6:10

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sat Apr 3 02:50:47 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rod Rogers" <rngrogers at embarqmail.com>
To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 3. april 2010 08:04
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] question regarding 1 Tim 6:10

> Yancy, if I understand you correctly here, we may have to
> disagree agreeably. When I come to a clause such as the first
> clause in 1 Tim 6:10, hRIZA GAR PANTWN TWN KATWN ESTIN hH
> FILARGURIA, I do so after having read verses 1-9 and especially
> 6-9. I'm not trying to be a smart-aleck here but I'm sure you
> have read comments on this list and it was obvious that they had
> not considered the context in which the verse is in found. When
> someone asks a question about how to translate a verse, in this
> case 1 Tim 6:10, it is easy to stare at the tree and miss the
> obvious forest.
> Wallace has stated that he sees six possibilities in translating
> the first clause of this verse.
> (1) “the love of money is a root of all evils,”
> (2) “the love of money is the root of all evils,”
> (3) “the love of money motivates all evils,”
> (4) “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils,”
> (5) “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils,”
> (6) “the love of money motivates all kinds of evils.”
> As you know, I personally think that scripture is it's best
> commentary and therefore I can eliminate the first three
> possibilities. Second, hRIZA is anarthrous and therefore you need
> to have a good reason for placing the article in the English
> translation if you do. I see no good reason for doing so. That
> leaves the possibility of #4 and #6. While I don't see a
> significant difference between "root" and "cause" I would chose
> #4 because of the predicate nominative construction and the
> equative verb.
> That is how I would go about exegeting this clause but that is
> not enough.

Although I do not have a copy of Wallace, he is mentioned frequently enough on 
this list that I have an idea of what he is doing. He apparently does not make a 
clear distinction between exegesis (trying to get to the meaning of the Greek 
text) and translation into English. Studying the Greek text as a Greek text is 
one thing, but how to best translate that into English depends on your 
translation philosophy and target audience.

Looking at the Greek text:
ῥίζα γὰρ πάντων τῶν κακῶν ἐστιν ἡ φιλαργυρία

GAR explains or in some way supports words in the previous sentence (unless that 
sentence is parenthetical). It has occasionally been mislabelled a conjunction, 
but it is actually a discourse particle. The previouse sentence describes the 
bad results of wanting to get rich. So here, the GAR supports and summarizes the 
previous sentence and φιλαργυρία FILARGURIA is a brief way of restating the 
attitude of "those who want to become rich" in v. 9. It is not in focus position 
because it is old information. It could be called a topic for those who ascribe 
to that terminology.
hRIZA PANTWN TWN KAKWN is a unit. The word "root" is a metaphor for "source" or 
"origin", that from which something develops and grows. PANTWN is in this 
context most likely "all kinds of". So, love of money can lead to all kinds of 
evil behavior. I do not know whether this was a common idiom or proverbial 
saying in Greek at the time.

Once we start talking about translation, we are in a different arena altogether.
One possibility is to translate the meaning simply without regard for the 
tradition of English translations. Then it might become: "love of money is a 
source of all kinds of evil" (GNB). Or you might say: "love of money can lead to 
all sorts of evil behaviour."

But most people cling to tradition when it comes to Bible translation, and the 
root of that tradition in the English speaking world is the KJV: "the love of 
money is the root of all evil"

The traditional translation in Danish is similar, and this has become a 
proverbial saying or an idiom. Indeed, Webster's cites 1 Tim 6:10 as the origin 
for the saying. In Danish the most common use of the idiom is "Idleness is the 
root of all evil."
But it is used to characterise other things which are perceived as leading to 
bad things. My Danish 40-million word corpus lists the following topics as "the 
root of all evil" in different contexts as written by different people: 
narcotics, 1968, nationalism, fanatism and extremism, multinationals, the 
military, laziness, money (but this last one only in a Biblical context.)
Now, IF the translator wants to employ the proverbial saying, then "the root" 
must be used in definite form, regardless of whether RIZA is definite in Greek 
or not, and the word "evil" must be used rather than "evils" regardless of 
whether KAKWN is singular or plural. NIV has destroyed the idiom by translating 
"a root". If the idiom is used and recognized as such by the hearer, then the 
question of taking it literally does not arise. The idiom "X is the root of all 
evil" is simply referring to the fact that X is considered to be bad because it 
can lead to many bad things.

Iver Larsen

> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: <yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net>
> To: "greek B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Friday, April 02, 2010 9:47 AM
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] question regarding 1 Tim 6:10
> No offense taken. Hope my dense and insubstantial comments don't
> continue to cause irritation.
> I think we are probably in agreement with Wallace that hRIZA
> PANTWN is most likely definite. But, independent of the question
> of the definiteness of hRIZA, the textual meaning represents an
> exaggeration which the audience were warranted to read as such.
> That is why I think Wallace is warranted to give the "idea"
> represented by the text (as distinct from the textual meaning).
> His discussion is not helpful as to why the mismatch between
> meaning and form. That is a general weakness of a formalist
> approach.
> Skewing of verbal form and speaker meaning is particularly a
> feature of quoted, proverbial speech. And so is the definite use
> of  article preverbal nouns (anarthrous, preverbal nouns).
> Summaries or general statements, or resumptive statementsall of
> which can be seen as a form of self-quotation or Michael Aubrey's
> redundancy, also feature definite -article nouns. The
> definite -article preverbal noun is often confusing to new
> readers. -article definiteness is also found in Spanish in
> similar instances.
> I simply assumed this in my previous posts, but here are other
> examples:
> I'm sure we could find others. All this shows that, while article
> use/non-use in KOINH Greek share features with English, we should
> guard against thinking that use/non use of the definite article
> has the same meaning accross languages.
> Yancy Smith, PhD
> yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
> Y.W.Smith at tcu.edu
> yancy at wbtc.com
> 5636 Wedgworth Road
> Fort Worth, TX 76133
> 817-361-7565

More information about the B-Greek mailing list