Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Greek Sounds in Romans 1:28-31

Hoping to write an actual post on Romans 1:28-31 sometime.  This one is more of just a quick observation I had that would really be too distracting to try to add it onto a more conceptual post on the topic as it would probably detract from the mood of the post.  But this section [1] is super rich if you know how to pronounce Greek.  There are all sorts of "sound-alike" things going on.  Here are five that I've counted:

(1) The edok(i)masan [2] vs ad(o)kimon sound-alike pair.  In verse 28, Paul uses the Greek word "edok(i)masan" for "did not approve" (retaining God in their knowledge), and in response, God is said to give them over to a depraved ("ad(o)kimon") mind.  They sort of sound a like and a lot of scholars have caught onto that.

(2) The "ias" in verse 30 of the vice list.   ἀδικίᾳ πονηρίᾳ πλεονεξίᾳ κακίᾳ.  The accent mark is always on the "i" of the "ia".  So it sounds cool to say them in a row.  If I were a preacher, I think I would say the four words in a row and then at the end add "mama mia" just to see who was tracking.

(3) The envy/murder pair. (verse 30) These are linked conceptually (see James and also other works of Hellenistic Judaism) but also phonetically: "φθόνου φόνου", or "psth(o)nou ps(o)nou".

(4) The "foolish, faithless" pair. (verse 31) "ἀσυνέτους, ἀσυνθέτους" pair.  "asoun(e)tous, asunth(e)tous".  ESV: "foolish, faithless".

(5) The last four words (verse 31) in general all begin with "a" and there is a really cool assonance that Paul achieves by putting them together like this.  Of all the English versions, I think the ESV best matches this: "foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless".


[1] The Greek passage with the words color coded by their numbering above if you're interested:  28καὶ καθὼς οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν τὸνθεὸν ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγνώσει, παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς  θεὸς εἰς ἀδόκιμον νοῦν, ποιεῖν τὰ μὴ καθήκοντα,29πεπληρωμένους πάσῃ ἀδικίᾳ πονηρίᾳ πλεονεξίᾳ κακίᾳ, μεστοὺς φθόνου φόνου ἔριδος δόλουκακοηθείας, ψιθυριστάς, 30καταλάλους, θεοστυγεῖς, ὑβριστάς, ὑπερηφάνους, ἀλαζόνας, ἐφευρετὰςκακῶν, γονεῦσιν ἀπειθεῖς, 31ἀσυνέτους, ἀσυνθέτους, ἀστόργους, νελεήμονας: 

[2] The parenthesis around letters is meant to indicate that this is where the accent falls.

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