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Greek Word Study for English Speaker


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#1 CWW

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:41 AM

I'm doing a study on the word γυνὴ in 1 Tim 3:11. I'm wondering how best to use Accordance to help in interpretive decisions. I have to add I'm an English speaker with limited knowledge of Greek. I recognise there are strong, diverse positions on this verse in particular, I'm trying to do my own study to come up with my own position.

There are 2 things I'm trying to do in particular:

1. I understand the semantic range of γυνὴ includes woman, wife, bride, virgin, etc.

Is it possible to do a search on this word within Pauline epistles and analyze Paul's predominant use of the word?

I can search the word γυνὴ within Pauline epistles and I get 64 hits in 51 verses. But the Analysis chart only tells me it is used either as wives or women. I'd like to figure out how many of each. Is it possible without studying every hit?

2. I also understand that in the case of 1 Tim 3:11, a stronger case for interpreting "wife" (of deacons mentioned in preceding verses) would be a possessive pronoun (which isn't there). My question is, how might I further analyze my search results to determine if γυνὴ ever occurs as "wife" without a possessive within any of the New Testament?

I hope these aren't silly questions that show up my ignorance of Greek!
Thanks for any help or suggestions.
Wei

#2 Joel Brown

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 11:35 AM

I'm not a greek expert by any means, but I can at least try and help with the Accordance usage.

1. I understand the semantic range of γυνὴ includes woman, wife, bride, virgin, etc.

Is it possible to do a search on this word within Pauline epistles and analyze Paul's predominant use of the word?

I can search the word γυνὴ within Pauline epistles and I get 64 hits in 51 verses. But the Analysis chart only tells me it is used either as wives or women. I'd like to figure out how many of each. Is it possible without studying every hit?


The problem with this question is you are asking a question of the interpretation of the word. This is not something as straightforward as running a search on the Greek, but it can be done easily with the help of a Strong's tagged english translation, such as ESVS, HCSBS, NAS95S, KJVS and others. By searching these, you are finding out the translator's opinion of whether the word meant wife or woman. To do this, simply search for the key number. Searching for [KEY G1135] in the HCSBS, for instance, gives 36 uses of wife/wives, and 28 uses of woman/women in Paul's epistles.

2. I also understand that in the case of 1 Tim 3:11, a stronger case for interpreting "wife" (of deacons mentioned in preceding verses) would be a possessive pronoun (which isn't there). My question is, how might I further analyze my search results to determine if γυνὴ ever occurs as "wife" without a possessive within any of the New Testament?

I hope these aren't silly questions that show up my ignorance of Greek!
Thanks for any help or suggestions.
Wei


This is where I can't help on the Greek grammar itself. To search for words preceding other words, this can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The easiest is to place them as if part of a phrase:
[PRONOUN] γυνὴ
This search will find all Pronouns that immediately precede γυνὴ. You can add the Pronoun tag from the Search -> Enter Tags menu. From that dialog box, just hit OK to not specify any particular morphological aspects to the Pronoun, or you can select some from the popup menus.

I hope this helps. Perhaps others with more Greek experience can help even further.
Joel Brown

By day: Consultant for Oaktree
By night: Freelance Trombonist and Private Instructor

#3 Timothy Jenney

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 03:45 PM

Hi, CCW!

No, these are not silly questions. In fact, a professor used to tell me the only silly questions are the ones left unasked!

However, this particular question cannot be resolved by a simple word study, as you have already seen. In fact, this requires analyzing the syntax of the sentences and paragraphs in which this word appears, which is not a task for the feeble of heart(!). If answering these kinds of complex questions appeals to you, let me encourage you to study Greek!

OK, on to your question:

Yes, the use of a possessive pronoun makes the case for translating "wife" instead of "woman" much clearer. Search string: [PRONOUN] γυνὴ ; a more precise search would be αὐτός@ [PRONOUN genitive masculine] <WITHIN 1 Words> γυνὴ ; in 18 verses: Matt 1:24; 5:31–32; 19:3, 5, 9; 22:24–25; 27:19; Mark 10:7, 11; Luke 1:24; 16:18; Acts 5:1, 7; 18:2; Eph 5:31; Rev 19:7.

However, "wife" is clearly the intended meaning at Matt. 19:10, where the Greek says, "…τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μετὰ τῆς γυναικός," (Eng. …a man with his wife). Here the Greek definite article in the genitive [possessive] case replaces the possessive pronoun, as it often does. Find all occurrences with this search: ὁ@ [ARTICLE genitive] <WITHIN 1 Words> γυνη@ [NOUN genitive]): Matt 19:10; Luke 3:19; 17:32; John 4:39; Acts 5:2; 17:12; 1 Cor 11:12 [where it clearly does not mean "wife"!]; Eph 5:23; 1 Pet 3:1; Rev 12:4, 15; 17:7.

However, there are several places in the NT epistles where γυνὴ is not preceded by a possessive definite article, nor followed by possessive pronouns or possessive nouns, but the word is still translated "wife." 1 Cor. 7:1-4, Eph. 5:22-24 and Col. 3:18-19 are all good examples. This was a Greek construct search, so I did not post it. See below:

I believe the passage you've identified falls into this last group, primarily because the interpretation is supported by the literary context. 1 Tim. 2:1-7 deals with the requirements to be an "overseer" (ESV); vv. 8-13 deals with the requirements for "deacons." Since v. 11 appears in the midst of the deacon section, it seems most likely that it refers to the wives of deacons (as does the following verse), rather than giving requirements for all Christian women, or alternately, limiting that particular instruction to female deacons. The former seems unlikely, as there are no matching requirements for all Christian men. The latter also seems unlikely, given that male deacons would then be excluded from the requirement.

I hope all this helps—and demonstrates some of the different benefits of a words study, a syntax study, and literary analysis.

BTW, there are others that know Greek even better than I on this forum and they may well want to jump in and correct me! ;-) Feel free...

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"Dr. J"

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#4 CWW

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:17 PM

Thank you Joel and Dr J.

That was much more than I was expecting in response and both helpful in my study of the word and ongoing Accordance education :)

Yes, I realise it is finally a question of interpretation that no software can do for me. I hardly use the construct search and couldn't think of how to set it up to find the answers I was looking to help me make that interpretive decision. This is evidently limited by my lack of knowing Greek too.

Once again, thank you, I am grateful for your help.
Wei




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