[B-Greek] hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA (Gn 4:24; Mt 18:22)

Tom Moore tom at katabiblon.com
Sat Jan 16 18:49:40 EST 2010


Mt. 18:22 Λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις, ἀλλὰ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά.
LEGEI AUTWi hO IHSOUS, OU LEGW SOI hEWS hEPTAKIS, ALLA hEWS hBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA.

Gn. 4:24 ὅτι ἑπτάκις ἐκδεδίκηται ἐκ Καιν ἐκ δὲ Λαμεχ ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά
hOTI hEPTAKIS EKDEDIKHTAI EK KAIN EN DE LAMEC hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA
[Because vengeance has been exacted seven times on Cain's behalf, on Lamech's it shall be seventy times seven (Brenton) / because seven times vengeance has been exacted by Kain, but by Lamech seventy times seven (NETS)]

Properly (that is, disregarding the underlying Hebrew of Gn. 4:24), is hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA "seventy times seven"? "seventy-seven times"? or ambiguous?

1) Smyth 354 d. N. translates TA DIS PENTE DEKA ESTIN as "twice five are ten." From this I assume hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA is unambiguously "seventy-times seven." Is this correct?

2) Smyth 347 says "twenty-one" is EIKOSI hEIS (or hEIS KAI EIKOSI) and "twenty-one times" is EIKOSAKIS hAPAX. By analogy, I assume "seventy-seven times" would properly be hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTAKIS. Is this correct?

3) If the above are correct, I'm confused by BDAG s.v. ἑβδομηκοντάκις, which says: "ἑ. ἑπτά may be short for ἑ. ἑπτάκις, seventy times seven times..., but is more likely seventy-seven times." Unless I'm misreading, isn't this the same as saying "ἑ. ἑπτά means seventy-seven times, unless it is short for ἑ. ἑπτάκις in which case it means seventy times seven times"? Based on Smyth, isn't this backwards (that is, oughtn't instead say "ἑ. ἑπτά means seventy times seven, unless it is short for ἑ. ἑπτάκις in which case it means seventy-seven times)"?

4) A non-Greek question: is the underlying Hebrew of Gen. 4:24 ambiguous (that is, can it say either "seventy-seven times" or "seventy times seven")?

Regards,
Tom Moore



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