1Tim.6:9 ὄλεθρον καὶ ἀπώλειαν - sense of differentiation?

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
Stephen Hughes
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Re: 1Tim.6:9 ὄλεθρον καὶ ἀπώλειαν - sense of differentiation

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 18th, 2014, 6:27 am

Mason Barge wrote:I was interested to see that these are cognates of the same root verb, in plain and augmented flavors. ὄλεθρον is from ὄλλuμι and ἀπώλειαν cognate to ἀπόλλuμι. So, with the dangerous assumption that they follow their cognate verbs, ἂπο- would most likely simply intensify the same meaning. ἀπώλειαν would be a more forceful version with otherwise identical meaning to ὄλεθρον.

Both nouns stretch as far as eternal damnation in the New Testament, and that would surely be supported by the context of the passage.
Ultimately, yes they are from the root ὀλ-, but perhaps a closer cognate to ὄλεθρος is ὀλοθρεύειν (+gen.) (ὀλεθρεύειν in the LXX). It may have a flavour of divine, retributive or legal about it, rather than a consequential destruction. Source not extent might be the nuance with this word.
Hebrews 11:28 wrote:Πίστει πεποίηκεν τὸ Πάσχα καὶ τὴν πρόσχυσιν τοῦ αἵματος, ἵνα μὴ ὁ ὀλοθρεύων τὰ πρωτότοκα θίγῃ αὐτῶν.
where it seems to me that θιγγάνειν is an affected / literary (or LXX) sounding word. NB. τὰ πρωτότοκα goes with ὀλοθρεύειν (+acc).

The intensified form of that verse is
Acts 3:23 wrote:Ἔσται δέ, πᾶσα ψυχή, ἥτις ἐὰν μὴ ἀκούσῃ τοῦ προφήτου ἐκείνου, ἐξολοθρευθήσεται ἐκ τοῦ λαοῦ.
Also an LXX context passage, cf. the un-Greek sounding πᾶσα ψυχή. A textual variant in spelling in this verse is ἐξολεθρευθήσεται.

ἀπώλεια might be used of extent. They may also both have a common antonym in σωτηρία, while maybe only ἀπώλεια would have an antonym in ἀσφάλεια. I don't see that being used in a context is enough to dictate antonymy
ὅταν γὰρ λέγωσιν, Εἰρήνη καὶ ἀσφάλεια, τότε αἰφνίδιος αὐτοῖς ἐφίσταται ὄλεθρος, ὥσπερ ἡ ὠδὶν τῇ ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσῃ, καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐκφύγωσιν.
In this case, I see that while people go on saying among themselves Εἰρήνη καὶ ἀσφάλεια, all of a sudden, divine destruction ὄλεθρος will come.
Mason Barge wrote:Under this theory, the phrase would be a sub-category of a rhetorical pleonasm, since the second would include the first.
Following the reasoning that I've set out here on my own terms, I would agree with your conclusion.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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Re: 1Tim.6:9 ὄλεθρον καὶ ἀπώλειαν - sense of differentiation

Post by cwconrad » August 18th, 2014, 7:22 am

For what it's worth, I think that ἀπώλεια is actually the more general word and that it derives from the verb ἀπόλλυμι, which, like Latin perdere (intransitive perire) ranges over every sort of ruin, loss, waste, devastation. The "lost sheep" are πρόβατα ἀπολωλότα (Mt 10:6); the badly-patched wine skin of Mk 2:22 suffers loss of the skins and of the wine: ὁ οἶνος ἀπόλλυται καὶ οἱ ἀσκοί. I cannot think of this verb without recalling the passage in Aristophanes' Frogs where Aeschylus critiques the formulaic structure of Euripidean iambic trimeters to so many of which can be attached, immediately after the caesura, the phrase, ληκύθιον ἀπώλεσεν -- "spoiled/lost/wasted his oil-flask."
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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