Category Archives: grammar

Acts 21:38; Did the Roman commander assume an Egyptian would know Greek?

Acts 21:38 οὐκ ἄρα σὺ εἶ ὁ Αἰγύπτιος

Did the Chiliarch assume an Egyptian would know Greek?
Or assume an Egyptian would not know Greek?

Many translations appear to believe that the Chiliarch assumed an Egyptian would not know Greek.
But some, like the Complete Jewish Bible, appear to believe the Chiliarch thought an Egyptian would know Greek.
Some are ambiguious or slightly implying affirmative, saying “Are you not that Egyptian?”
This is quite different from some, which say “Then you are not that Egyptian.” (See all the translations listed with their renderings, at the bottom of this post.)

But what are the rules of Greek grammar here?
The BDF grammar §440 says “οὐ is employed to suggest an affirmative answer, μή (μήτι) a negative reply; in the latter, μή with the indicative is an external indication that it is a question, since independent μή can be used in no other way than interrogatively”
So according to BDF, the correct translation here, employing οὐ, would be “Then you are that Egyptian, aren’t you.”
Combined with ἄρα DeBrunner says in §440(2) “Οὐκ ἄρα denotes astonishment in Ac. 21:38 (‘why, are you not…’), elsewhere it corresponds to ‘well’ or ‘then’. “
Hmm, why different only here, DeBrunner? I do not agree. I think the Chiliarch is saying, “Then aren’t you that Egyptian?” and assuming an affirmative answer, since that is the grammar.
BDAG says it means “are you not, then…” With ἄρα being inferential or consequential. (With οὐ suggesting an affirmative answer of course.)

I conclude that those translations which render it “then you are not that Egyptian” or, “I thought you were that Egyptian” are incorrect. And it is apparent to me, that the Roman commander assumed an Egyptian would know Greek. To read my translation of this verse, you can download my translation.

KJ21 Art not thou that Egyptian…?
ASV Art thou not then the Egyptian…?
AMP Then you are not [as I assumed] the Egyptian…?
AMPC Are you not then [as I supposed] the Egyptian…?
BRG Art not thou that Egyptian…?
CBW Are you not the Egyptian…?
CSB Aren’t you the Egyptian…?
CEB Aren’t you the Egyptian…?
CJB Say, aren’t you that Egyptian…?
CEV Aren’t you that Egyptian…?
DARBY Thou art not then that Egyptian?
DLNT Then are you not the Egyptian…?
DRA Art not thou that Egyptian…?
ERV Then you are not the man I thought you were. I thought you were the Egyptian.
EHV Are you not the Egyptian…?
EMTV Are you not then the Egyptian…?
ESV Are you not the Egyptian, then…?
ESVUK Are you not the Egyptian, then…?
EXB I thought you were [L Are you not…?] the Egyptian.
GNV Art not thou the Egyptian…?
GW Aren’t you the Egyptian…?
GNT Then you are not that Egyptian…?
HCSB Aren’t you the Egyptian…?
ICB I thought you were the Egyptian.
ISV You’re not the Egyptian…are you?
PHILLIPS Aren’t you that Egyptian…?
JUB Art not thou that Egyptian…?
KJV Art not thou that Egyptian…?
AKJV Art not thou that Egyptian…?
LAMSA Are you not that Egyptian…?
LEB Then you are not the Egyptian…?
TLB Aren’t you that Egyptian…?
MSG I thought you were the Egyptian.
MEV Are you not the Egyptian…?
MOUNCE Then you are not the Egyptian…?
MURD Art not thou that Egyptian…?
NOG Aren’t you the Egyptian…?
NABRE So then you are not the Egyptian…?
NASB Then you are not the Egyptian…?
NCV I thought you were the Egyptian.
NET Then you’re not that Egyptian…?
NIRV Aren’t you the Egyptian…?
NIV Aren’t you the Egyptian…?
NKJV Are you not the Egyptian…?
NLV Are you not the man from the country of Egypt…?
NLT Aren’t you the Egyptian…?
NMB Are you not that Egyptian…?
NRSV Then you are not the Egyptian…?
NTE Aren’t you the Egyptian…?
OJB Then you are not the Egyptian…?
TPT Aren’t you that Egyptian…?
Recov You are not then the Egyptian…?
RSV Are you not the Egyptian, then…?
TLV Then you’re not the Egyptian…?
VOICE We thought you were that Egyptian.
WEB Aren’t you then the Egyptian…?
WE I thought you were the man from the country of Egypt.
WYC Whether thou art not the Egyptian…?
YLT art not thou, then, the Egyptian…?

Greek Definite Article

Acts 8:5

Here is a Greek textual variant that should demonstrate to beginners in NT Greek that maybe they don’t know how to interpret the definite article.

The Textus Receptus and the Robinson-Pierpont Greek texts both read εις πολιν της Σαμαρειας, without the definite article την present before πολιν, “city.”  Here are some translations from the Textus Receptus:

KJV

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

NKJV

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.

MEV

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.

 

The UBS / NA text reads, εις την πολιν της Σαμαρειας, with the definite article την present before “city.”

Here are some translations reputedly from the UBS text:

NIV, TNIV

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.

RSV

Philip went down to a city of Samaria, and proclaimed to them the Christ.

HCSB

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them.

CEB

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and began to preach Christ to them.

CJB

Now Philip went down to a city in Shomron and was proclaiming the Messiah to them;

NABRE

Thus Philip went down to [the] city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them.

NASB

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.

ESV

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.

NRSV

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them.

GNT

Philip went to the principal city in Samaria and preached the Messiah to the people there.

MOUNCE

Philip went down to the main city of Samaria and began proclaiming to them the Christ.

NET

Philip went down to the main city of Samaria and began proclaiming the Christ to them.

πολις της Σαμαρειας, for the city of Samaria had been utterly destroyed by Hyrcanus, and the city built by Herod on its site was called Σεβαστη, that is, Augusta, in honour of Augustus. Samaria comprised the tract of country formerly occupied by the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, west of Jordan, lying between Judea and Galilee, beginning, says Josephus, at Ginea in the great plain, and ending at the toparchy of Acrabateni.

The manuscripts:
txt πολιν C D E H P Ψ 049 056 33 1611 1739 1891 cop-sa,bo,meg chrys TR RP την πολιν ?⁷⁴ ℵ A B 1175 SBL [NA28] {C} lac ?⁴⁵ L

 

 

John 15 verse 8

I just made a TC footnote on the variant in John 15:8 regarding γένησθε (aorist subjunctive) in the NA28, versus γενήσεσθε (future indicative) in TR RP.  The UBS5 and NA28 footnotes cite ALL the Old Latin manuscripts as being in support of the γένησθε (aorist subjunctive) reading.  This is true insofar as the subjunctive versus indicative mood question.  But the Latin verbs do not agree with the Greek verbs exactly.  They read in fact: sitis (pres subj) “be” it-a,d,e,q,r¹ efficiamini (pres pass subj) “be made, be proven” it-aur,b,ff² possitis fieri “be able to become” it-f.  Certainly, none of the Latin manuscripts have a future tense verb.

A limitation of Coptic to render Greek is shown in the change from the UBS3 footnotes to now in the UBS5 footnotes.  The UBS3 footnote cites cop-sa,bo,ach2 in support of γένησθε (aorist subjunctive) of the NA28, but now in the UBS5 and NA28, the Coptic is not cited for any reading.  If you were to read the English translations of the Sahidic and Bohairic Coptic texts, you might think that they do support the NA28 reading, because they read in English, “and become to me disciples” (Sahidic) and, “and that ye be to me disciples” (Bohairic).

However, J. Martin Plumley writes in Metzger’s book “The Early Versions of the New Testament, Their Origin, Transmission and Limitations,” Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2001, p. 149, the following: “The well-developed system of auxiliary verbs in Coptic, while capable of dealing with the main temporal aspects of the Greek verb, are less able to represent the more subtle distinctions of mood, especially the subjunctive.  Thus, where Coptic uses a future tense containing the element -NA-, it is not possible to decide whether the Greek text showed the future indicative or the aorist subjunctive.”

Another example of the limitation of Coptic is when applied to the extremely common variant in the Greek MSS of τε versus δε, or ουτε v. ουδε, because Coptic did not distinguish between t and d, and d was usually but not consistently, defaulted to t.

To read the footnote on John 15:8, you can download the gospel of John here.

Typos in Mark?

My son Jacob sent me a list of what he thought might be typos in my translation of Mark:

2:16 – “Torah scholars of the Pharisees” instead of “Torah scholars and the Pharisees”

This is a Greek textual variant between the Nestle/Aland, United Bible Societies’ text, versus the Textus Receptus.  The text as I have it is referring to the Torah scholars belonging to the sect of the Pharisees; there were Torah scholars belonging to other sects as well.  This is not the only place we find this variant; it is in other passages and other gospels too.

2:23 – The heading is “Man Over the Sabbath”. I was wondering if you meant “Lord Over the Sabbath”?

Well, I have it purposely ambiguous, because not only is there a man who is Lord over the Sabbath, Jesus Christ, but also it means man is more important than the Sabbath.  Judaism made the Sabbath the most important thing in the Jewish universe, far more important than people, or any other part of the Torah, even more important than an actual walk with God.

5:35 – “Why inconvenience the teacher any farther?” Farther is used for physical distances. If it is figurative, it should be further. I think it’s a stretch to call it a physical distance.

Yes, further is for abstracts, and farther is for physical distance, but in fact, if you look at it, physical distance is actually what is being talking about.  Jesus had not yet traveled all the way to him, so they are saying, why make Jesus come all the way.  Why make the Rabbi go even farther out of his way.  I do remember thinking about that a long time when I translated it. Maybe I will make a footnote about it.  BTW, people are losing that distinction these days, I have heard even news anchors use the words wrongly.

9:23 – Jesus said to him, “‘If I can’?…” First, shouldn’t the single quote mark be after the question mark? Secondly, why is it necessary, since Jesus is paraphrasing the father?

Yeah, the Greek actually says, quoting the father directly “What is this ‘If you can’ you are saying.”  I’ll have to think about what to do there. But you are right, the quotation marks are not necessary for an indirect quotation.

14:22 – “taking a loaf of bread and blessing” Should there be an it after blessing to indicate that the bread was being blessed?

Here, the Greek word for blessing is also the Greek word often used to mean “giving thanks,” or “praising.”  Jesus was actually blessing God, not the food particularly, but blessing in the sense of praising God for it.  The lesson is, you bless the food by praising God for it. I remember making it deliberately ambiguous so that people would stop and think.  Catholics would have an easier time understanding it, since they use those words more interchangeably than Protestants do.  I guess I should make a footnote explaining it.

Dad

Accidental Scribal Addition

An Accidental Scribal Addition in DRP translation of Revelation

I finished translating the Apocalypse of John in April, 2006.  And now in August 2016, as I am making my TR and RP editions, I discovered a scribal error on my part.  In Rev. 16:11, I wrote in English “they reviled the name of the God of heaven.”  But the Greek only says ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸν θεὸν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, they reviled the God of heaven.  So, I made a scribal addition of the words “the name of.”  Even though my exemplar had the correct text.  Why did I accidentally do this?  Because two verses prior, the same word ἐβλασφήμησαν was followed by τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ, “they reviled the name of God,” and I was familiar with that phrase from just having translated that verse.  See immediately below my translation as it stood from April 2006 to August 2016.

16:9 καὶ ἐκαυματίσθησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι καῦμα μέγα, καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἔχοντος τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ τὰς πληγὰς ταύτας, καὶ οὐ μετενόησαν δοῦναι αὐτῷ δόξαν.
⁹And the people were burned a very bad burn, and they reviled the name of God, the one having authority over these plagues; yet they did not repent to give him glory.

16:11 καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸν θεὸν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐκ τῶν πόνων αὐτῶν καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἑλκῶν αὐτῶν, καὶ οὐ μετενόησαν ἐκ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῶν.
¹¹and they reviled the name of the God of heaven, because of their pains and because of their ulcers, yet they did not repent of their works.

I looked in Hoskier’s apparatus to find out if any ancient scribes made the same mistake which I did, and lo, two of them did indeed make the same addition.

The minuscule 1957 reads in v. 11, ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ, an exact duplication of the previous phrase in v. 9, even without the τοῦ οὐρανοῦ of v. 11.

The Philoxenian Syriac in v. 11 reads ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.  My translation was an exact translation of the Philoxenian Syriac, without my knowledge or intent.

So, when you see the UBS Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament speculate that a phrase found in the BYZ text but not found in the UBS text, and they say it was added because of scribal familiarity with that phrase a couple verses prior, I can personally attest how that can and does happen.

Revelation 8:7 Homoioteleuton

A case of homoioteleuton in the Textus Receptus

Will one third of the earth be burned up or not?  Revelation 8:7.  This is a variant between Bible versions based on the Textus Receptus, and all others.  The Textus Receptus and the King James Version omit the first of the three phrases below, which means, “and one third of the earth will be burned up.”

καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῆς γῆς κατεκάη
καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῶν δένδρων κατεκάη
καὶ πᾶς χόρτος χλωρὸς κατεκάη

Only three late Greek manuscripts (out of 300+-) omit the first phrase, and it is a clear case of “homoioteleuton” that happened in the Greek copying process.  That means, the lines end the same, so a copyist, having left off his work for a break, then resumed doing his work, and he remembers, “I resume, at the line ending with κατεκάη,” but he resumed with the wrong line ending with κατεκάη.  Skipped one line by accident.  Homoioteleuton.

Or, it could have been a case of “homoioarcton,” that is, all three lines BEGIN the same, with καὶ, and the scribe having left off, resumed, thinking, “I resume with the line beginning with καὶ, but he picked the wrong line beginning with καὶ.

Interestingly, the scribe of manuscript 620 wrote the phrase in question two times, which is another kind of parablepsis from homoioteleuton.

As long as I am on this verse, let’s look at a Bible version.  As you can see, the word κατεκάη is used 3 times, the exact same word and same form of the word, and it means “burned up.”

NLT:  One-third of the earth was set on fire, one-third of the trees were burned, and all the green grass was burned.

So why does the New Living Translation render one of the occurrences of κατεκάη as “set on fire”?  This is simply unacceptable.  Just one of thousands of translation errors in the NLT.  I would never recommend the NLT, or the Message.  If you want a paraphrase, the Philips NT is much better, or the NIV.  I consider the NIV a mild paraphrase.

Please share this post about Homoioteleuton in the Textus Receptus

James 4;15


Why am I doing yet another translation of the New Testament? One of the main reasons is because, after I studied NT Greek, I kept finding mistakes in the mainstream translations that I was reading. Oh, you say, who are you to say they are wrong and you are right? Fair enough. The Bible says, One man’s testimony seems right, until another cross-examines him. Here is an example from the Epistle of James, the Greek text, with a literal English rendering underneath the Greek words.

James 4:15

Ἐὰν ὁ κύριος θελήσῃ καὶ ζήσωμεν καὶ ποιήσωμεν τοῦτο ἢ ἐκεῖνο.
If – the – Lord – wills – and – we will live – and – do – this – or – that.

There are two instances of the word καὶ in the phrase, but all the mainstream translations ignore the first instance of the word καὶ. They do not translate it. There is no difference in this regard between the Greek manuscripts, no difference in regard to the two instances of καὶ between the Textus Receptus, the Majority Text, and the Nestle-Aland / UBS text. There is no justifiable reason for not translating it.

KVV: If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that
ESV: If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.
NIV: If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that

Now the word καὶ usually means “and” in English, but sometimes means “also,” or “even.”

My translation (DRP) says:

If the Lord wills, we will even be alive and do this or that

Acts 2:47 KJV

In the Greek text in Acts 2:47, the Textus Receptus, Tregelles’ GNT, and Von Soden’s, those three alone have σωζομένους, and Tyndale and the KJV render it “such as should be saved.  But all the other Greek editions have σῳζομένους, and render it something like “those who were being saved.   If anyone has insights on the Greek manuscript basis for the TR reading, let me know.