ἀληθής

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Re: ἀληθής in John 8:17 & Balanced language learning

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 25th, 2014, 3:34 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:
John 8:17 wrote:17 Καὶ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ δὲ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ γέγραπται ὅτι δύο ἀνθρώπων ἡ μαρτυρία ἀληθής ἐστιν.

Please quote the verses in Greek when you are discussing a word in a context.

This type of question is not suitable for your level. It is enough for you to memorise;
    μαρτυρία, testimony
    ἀληθής, true
    ἐστιν, is

At this stage memorise the most simple definitions possible.


And for that, I really like the Dodson definitions found at GreekLexicon.org, e.g.

http://greeklexicon.org/lexicon/strongs/227/

Code: Select all
Lemma:   ἀληθής, ές
Part of speech:   Adjective
Short definition:   unconcealed, true
Long definition:   unconcealed, true, true in fact, worthy of credit, truthful.


Despite the URI, this is the Dodson definition, not Strong's.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: ἀληθής

Postby Mike Burke » March 25th, 2014, 7:10 pm

Long definition: unconcealed, true, true in fact, worthy of credit, truthful.

So "worthy of credit" (i.e. "valid," "admissible") is within the semantic range of the word.

Thank you.

(And thanks for the links.)
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Re: Reinterpreting your question as emerging linguistic awar

Postby Stephen Hughes » March 25th, 2014, 11:07 pm

Mike Burke wrote:
Long definition: unconcealed, true, true in fact, worthy of credit, truthful.

So "worthy of credit" (i.e. "valid," "admissible") is within the semantic range of the word.

No, "valid" and "admissible" are not within the semantic range of the word. You are trying to make a confusion between the context in which a testimony is given and the internal nature of that testimony.

As a beginner, you will be going through the process of acquiring a sense of how language works. Let me answer you briefly from that point of view. Your question really only touches very lightly on the Greek.

Questions about the semantic range of the Greek word assume understand the English. The two words you are asking about are special words, whereas the simple word you are learning as a definition; "true" is a general word. [FYI the other word "unconcealed" is an etymological definition - it is to help you understand the internal structure of the Greek word - we don't use such words in English translations.]

The word "admissible" is used in special ways in English. The word is used in a specific location -a court room - in relation to a testimony.

We can ask some basic questions in regard to "true", "admissible" and "testimony".
    Could a testimony be admissible and not true? [yes, if somebody were lying.]
    Could a testimony inadmissible and true? [Yes, if the legal system didn't accept that that person could give evidence (perhaps a slave or non-citizen)]
    Could a testimony be inadmissible and not true? [Yes, if a slave or non-citizen was going to lie]
    Your question; Could a testimony be true and admissible? [Yes, if a free citizen were telling the truth]
IN FACT, your question is not about Greek. It is about the relationship between a "true testimony" and an "admissible testimony".

Linguistic awareness is something that you, as a beginner, need to develop, it's true, but your Greek is not up to a standard at whicb you can question, much less rewrite definitions for Greek words.

Just memorise the most basic definitions posssible.
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
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Re: ἀληθής

Postby Mike Burke » March 25th, 2014, 11:35 pm

I assume you know that if the semantic range of ἀληθής isn't broad enough to include the idea of credibility, the statement made in John 8:17 is factually incorrect.

Deut. 17:6 says that a man cannot be put to death on the testimony of less than two witnesses, and Deut. 19:15 says that a man shouldn't even be brought to trial on less testimony than that, but nowhere in the Law of Moses is it "written" that "the testimony of two men is true," and the stonning of an innocent man on the false testimony of two witnesses is recorded in 1 Kings 21:13.

So I take it that Dodson's definitions are more accurate than BDAG, because he at least listed "worthy of credit" as one of the meanings of the word, whereas BDAG just seemed to be repeating the idea of "real" or "true" as though that exhausted the word's meaning.

BTW: I know there are Theological issues involved in the interpretation of John 8 verse 16, and verse 18, and I know Trinitarians and Modalists could argue endlessly over such verses, but I don't see how my question here (regarding verse 17) remotely touched upon any such issues, and I would appreciate it if moderators wouldn't read concerns into my questions that aren't there.

Also, I was under the impression that there were people here who could write Lexicons, instead of just quote them.

Was I wrong?

your Greek is not up to a standard at whicb you can question, much less rewrite definitions for Greek words


I didn't write Dodson's definitions, or the footnotes to the New American Version.
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Re: ἀληθής

Postby Mike Burke » March 26th, 2014, 12:27 am

Whether you're talking about the Hebrew text, the Greek LXX, or the English Version (and I mean any English Version), the statement that "the testimony of two men is true" doesn't appear anywhere in The Law of Moses (or the Old Testament.)

So unless the meaning of ἀληθής is a little broader than you say it is, John 8:17 would be the only place in the Bible where this is said, and the statement made there (that it is written in the Law) would be factually incorrect.
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How do those two posts help you learnn Greek

Postby Stephen Hughes » March 26th, 2014, 1:02 am

As interesting as they may be in themselves, those posts are probably not at home in a beginners' sub-forum.

The entries in lexicons are often discussed challenged and defended on B-Greek, but not in the beginners' area.

The definition "worthy of credit" defines the meaning of "true" from the point of view of how it seems. That is to say D. says that the meaning is both "true in itself" and "something that can be seen to be true". For the moment , it would be okay for you to learn the simple one-word definition.

I can see why you want the Greek to mean "admissible", but it doesn't. It seems to me that it would be better for you to ask what does "two" mean in this verse?" Is it two different, two similar, a group of two, two at the same time, two independent or ... ? The word "two" is quite flexible, but "true" is not. More experience in the language will let you see what tends to be fixed and what can be changed.

If the writers of the standard dictionaries knew about this issue and didn't cater for it, then they have made a clear statement that the Greek means "true". If they didn't know about it, then their Greek hasn't been biased by textual considerations.

Generally speaking, it is best to believe reference works till you are able to improve them. Saying that the language should mean something or other for external reasons is not well-accepted.
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
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Re: ἀληθής

Postby Mike Burke » March 26th, 2014, 1:28 am

So the translators of the New American Standard Bible were in error when they added this definition as a footnote to John 8:17?

John 8:17 I.e. valid or admissible

http://www.biblica.com/en-us/bible/online-bible/nasb/john/8/nasb/

Even though
The translators and consultants who have contributed to the NASB update are conservative Bible scholars who have doctorates in Biblical languages, theology, or other advanced degrees. They represent a variety of denominational backgrounds.

http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/New-American-Standard-Bible-NASB/

The translation commitee was wrong to suggest that ἀληθής could mean "valid" or "admissible," and you can catagorically state that that idea is no part of the word's semantic range?

Is that right?

It seems to me that it would be better for you to ask what does "two" mean in this verse?

I've always been Trinitarian, but that would get into Theological issues, wouldn't it?
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Re: ἀληθής

Postby Mike Burke » March 26th, 2014, 2:19 am

P.S. If it's possible that some kind of figure of speech is being used in John 8:17, would someone please point out what kind of figure of speech is being used?

I mean would it be a figure of omission (i.e. "true" for "accepted as true"), or a figure of association ("true" for "credible," or "believable")?

If Stephen is right, and "credible" isn't actually part of the semantic range of ἀληθής, could this be an instance of what Barry (on another thread) called "pragmatic extension"?
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Re: ἀληθής

Postby Stephen Hughes » March 26th, 2014, 3:54 am

TRANSLATION is a different matter.

Translation can involve a degree of interpretation. You are here on B-Greek to improve your language skills, not to compare translations.

It is better not to use words like "wrong" which evoke emotions more than sense. It is not black and white. Translation makes the text understandable to those who can't read Greek. The "ie" is important = "the commitee feels that in this place it is understood as ...". They added an interpretation of the whole sense of the two people's single witness being legal.

Look in a big English dictionary for uses of "two".
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
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Re: ἀληθής

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » March 26th, 2014, 5:01 am

Mike Burke wrote:So the translators of the New American Standard Bible were in error when they added this definition as a footnote to John 8:17?

John 8:17 I.e. valid or admissible



They don't necessarily mean that the word means "valid" or "admissible". They may mean that in this context the word refers to something valid or admissible. They may have thought the English word "true" doesn't quite catch the nuance of what the Greek writer was communicating in whole, or that the translation needs some clarification to rule out some misinterpretation. They weren't rewriting lexicons or specifying what the Greek word in itself actually means.

The meaning(s) of the word and the referents are different things. For example "Mike" is just a name. It doesn't mean you (Mike Burke). But when someone uses it and means you, you are the referent. Yet you or any other person isn't what "Mike" means. The same goes for any other word. You should learn the basics of semantics and lexicography to understand how words are defined and why. What a word in general means is different than what a word refers to in some specific context. The word "cat" doesn't mean "four-legged cat" even when in most instances it is used to refer to four-legged cats. The word "run" doesn't mean "run fast" even though it usually refers to a situation where someone moves fast.
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