[B-Greek] Luke 8:32 Herd of hIKANOS Pigs

Tony Pope borikayaama_tekiri at sil.org
Thu Jul 1 06:28:33 EDT 2010

On Jun 30, 2010, at 3:15 PM, Tom Moore wrote:

> Ἦν δὲ ἐκεῖ ἀγέλη χοίρων ἱκανῶν { βοσκομένων ♦ βοσκομένη } ἐν τῷ ὄρει· καὶ { παρεκάλουν ♦ 
> παρεκάλεσαν } αὐτὸν ἵνα ἐπιτρέψῃ αὐτοῖς εἰς ἐκείνους εἰσελθεῖν. Καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτοῖς.
> This may be a trivial question, but how ought we translate AGELH COIRWN hIKANWN? ("A herd of a not 
> insignificant number of pigs"?)
> I'm trying to get a sense of hIKANOS in this passage. Why might the author have chosen hIKANOS 
> modifying COIRWN: why not modify AGELH instead ("a sizable herd of pigs"), or why not rather just 
> use POLUS ("a herd of many pigs")?

As Dr Conrad says (Wed Jun 30 20:02:16 EDT 2010), hIKANOS is a favourite of Luke's. It does also 
occasionally occur in Mark and Paul, and in the LXX, in the same sense of a considerable size, 
number, degree (BDAG's senses 3 and 4).

Spicq has an article on this word group (Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Vol. 2), which is 
helpful particularly for the many examples he cites from the literature and documents. 
Interestingly, in footnote 13 on p. 219 he makes a comment regarding 1 Cor. 11.30, which is a 
context where both POLUS and hIKANOS occur together. He says "a rather large number (weaker than 
πολλοί [POLLOI]) had died."

διὰ τοῦτο ἐν ὑμῖν πολλοὶ ἀσθενεῖς καὶ ἄρρωστοι, καὶ κοιμῶνται ἱκανοί.

It may well be that the sick among the Corinthian believers were more numerous than those who had 
died. I wonder, though, whether this is the full story as far as the word hIKANOS is concerned. It 
could be, of course, that Paul has simply chosen a different word the second time around for the 
sake of variation. But it could also be that hIKANOS has a nuance of "this is remarkable, 
significant" and the contrast with POLLOI is not one of number but of significance. In Acts 22.6 
Paul is reported as describing the light that blinded him on the Damascus road as φῶς ἱκανὸν [FWS 
hIKANON]. I doubt that that light is being described as quite a bright light but not extremely 
bright. If I am right (on the basis of a somewhat limited study), the word hIKANOS in Luke 8.32 is 
chosen because it was an impressively large herd of pigs. Luke-Acts employs a greater range of 
vocabulary than the other NT writers, and to good effect.

Incidentally, the reader of the English translation of Spicq should be warned that the translator, 
who in general has done an excellent job, has been deceived several times in this article by "faux 
amis" (false friends). In particular, on p. 218 "a large enough amount" should surely read "a rather 
large amount", on p. 219 note 13 "an important crowd" should be "a sizable crowd," in note 14 "a 
number of days" would better be "a large number of days," and "for long days" should be "for days 
and days" or the like. The original French can be partially previewed by googling Spicq Lexique and 
scrolling down to p. 729ff.

There are a few examples where one might dispute whether Spicq has allocated the example to the 
right sense, since the sense "sufficient" was also alive and well. In fact, Spicq seems rather 
reluctant to separate the sense "sufficient" from the one we are discussing. In similar fashion, one 
might ask why BDAG has allocated 2 Cor. 2.6 to sense 3b with the gloss "severe enough" rather than 
sense 1. But at least BDAG has made a significant(!)  improvement over BAGD.

As regards the fact that Luke 8.32 has hIKANOS qualifying the χοίρων COIRWN (pigs) rather than the 
ἀγέλη AGELH (herd), it seems you can do it either way in Greek (cf Mark 5.11), whereas only one way 
sounds natural in English. That's just how languages are.

Tony Pope

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