Matthew 5:3a

How do I work out the meaning of a Greek text? How can I best understand the forms and vocabulary in this particular text?
Forum rules
This is a beginner's forum - see the Koine Greek forum for more advanced discussion of Greek texts. Please quote the Greek text you are discussing directly in your post if it is reasonably short - do not ask people to look it up.

When answering questions in this forum, keep it simple, and aim your responses to the level of the person asking the question.
Bill Ross 2
Posts: 25
Joined: June 1st, 2011, 12:15 pm

Matthew 5:3a

Post by Bill Ross 2 » June 3rd, 2011, 8:30 pm

Mat 5:3a μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι..

What might this mean?

Thank you.
0 x



Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3465
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Re: Matthew 5:3a

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 3rd, 2011, 9:42 pm

Ruminator wrote:Mat 5:3a μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι..

What might this mean?
I'm not sure what your question is - are there particular words you are asking about, or are you struggling with aspects of the grammar?

How much Greek do you know?
0 x
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Bill Ross 2
Posts: 25
Joined: June 1st, 2011, 12:15 pm

Re: Matthew 5:3a

Post by Bill Ross 2 » June 4th, 2011, 6:41 am

Just a bit.

I find this phrase completely incomprehensible, particularly the function of EN.

Is it obvious what it means, based on a good handle of the grammar? If so, what would be the grammatic principle that unlocks this?

Thanks.
0 x

Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3465
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Re: Matthew 5:3a

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 4th, 2011, 9:30 am

Ruminator wrote:I find this phrase completely incomprehensible, particularly the function of EN.

Is it obvious what it means, based on a good handle of the grammar? If so, what would be the grammatic principle that unlocks this?
Where do you see εν? I think you really mean to ask why τῷ πνεύματι is dative?

See the "dative of respect" in Funk's grammar, section 892.5:
The dative of respect (or relation) is used to denote the standard or person to which the assertion is limited (cf. the accusative of specification or respect, which is sometimes the virtual equivalent of the dative of respect, §894.6).

Code: Select all

(54)	ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι	Gal 2:15
       We who are Jews by nature

Code: Select all

(55)	ἐὰν μὴ περιτιμηθῆτε τῷ ἔθει τῷ Μωϋσέως, ...	Acts 15:1
       Unless you are circumcised according to the
       custom of Moses, ...

Code: Select all

(56)	ἥμην δὲ ἀγνοούμενος τῷ προσώπῳ
       ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Ἰουδαίας	Gal 1:22
       And I was unknown by sight to the churches
       of Judea
Example (56) provides the basis for comparing respect (τῷ προσώπῳ, by face) and relation (ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις, to the churches) : The former refers to that with respect to which the assertion holds, the latter denotes the person with respect to whom the assertion holds. Cf. Bl-D §197, Smyth §§1495, 1512, 1516.
Funk addresses this example specifically in section 703:
703. Adjective clusters with an attributive dative fall into a number of categories, depending on what the dative specifies. For convenience, noun clusters are also included here (§6990).

703.1 The dative may be a dative of respect (denoting the respect in which the attribution applies):

Code: Select all

(11)  oἱ πτωχοὶ / τῷ πνεύματι	Mt 5:3
      The poor in spirit (i.e., poor with respect to spirit)

Code: Select all

(12)  νεκροὺς [μὲν] / τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ	Rom 6:11
      dead to sin (i.e., dead with respect to sin)
0 x
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Iver Larsen
Posts: 127
Joined: May 7th, 2011, 3:52 am

Re: Matthew 5:3a

Post by Iver Larsen » June 4th, 2011, 10:57 am

When the meaning is not clear it is rarely a grammatical problem, but rather a problem with a literal rendering. Although the Greek word πτωχοὶ basically means "poor", the text was first spoken in Hebrew, and the corresponding Hebrew word is much wider in its usage. It can describe a person who is totally dependent on other people to fulfill whatever need they have. They recognize and acknowledge that they need help, in this case with reference to spiritual matters. A free and more understandable translation might be: Blessed are those who acknowledge their dependence on God.

Iver Larsen
0 x

Jason Hare
Posts: 498
Joined: June 2nd, 2011, 5:28 pm
Location: Rehovot, Israel
Contact:

Re: Matthew 5:3a

Post by Jason Hare » June 4th, 2011, 11:29 am

Iver Larsen wrote:When the meaning is not clear it is rarely a grammatical problem, but rather a problem with a literal rendering. Although the Greek word πτωχοὶ basically means "poor", the text was first spoken in Hebrew, and the corresponding Hebrew word is much wider in its usage. It can describe a person who is totally dependent on other people to fulfill whatever need they have. They recognize and acknowledge that they need help, in this case with reference to spiritual matters. A free and more understandable translation might be: Blessed are those who acknowledge their dependence on God.

Iver Larsen
Which raises the question of why you think it was spoken originally in Hebrew and not in Aramaic, and additionally, what you think the original word was which carried all of this extra information. Are we talking about עני οr אביון or another word? Why the need to go back into Hebrew when we don't even have a copy of a Hebrew original?

Certainly the word πτωχός itself carries some heavy baggage in terms of one's dependance on others for sustenance and survival. It (πτωχός) is much stronger than just "I don't have much money in the bank." It is someone who is so poor that they are at the point of begging for survival.
0 x
Jason A. Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel

Mark Lightman
Posts: 300
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:30 pm

Re: Matthew 5:3a

Post by Mark Lightman » June 4th, 2011, 11:44 am

Iver wrote
A free and more understandable translation might be: Blessed are those who acknowledge their dependence on God.
While I agree 100% with Iver here, I want to mention at this point that Ann Nyland in the Source New Testament renders this

"Happy, spiritually, are the financially poor."

That is, she seems to take τῷ πνεύματι not with οἱ πτωχοὶ but with μακάριοι. I think this is clever, and removes the apparent contradiction with Luke 6:20, which simply has οἱ πτωχοὶ, but I think it also misses Jesus' central point. It was a commonplace in Jewish thought at the time that riches and health and status were a sign of blessings from God. Jesus saw things differently.

But I really wanted to ask you, Iver, what you thought of Nyland's book. She has some very interesting things to say about the Greek, particularly in connection to the papyri, and/but does some outrageous things to the text to support her theology. I imagine you have discussed her on your blog. I don't remember her being discussed on B-Greek. I may post more about her as I read further.

τί φρονίζεις?
0 x

Bill Ross 2
Posts: 25
Joined: June 1st, 2011, 12:15 pm

Re: Matthew 5:3a

Post by Bill Ross 2 » June 4th, 2011, 2:14 pm

Sorry, yes, as you said.

What it seems to be saying is "poor with regard to the THE πνεύμα"...

Doesn't that suggest "people are much better off without much πνεύμα"?
0 x

Bill Ross 2
Posts: 25
Joined: June 1st, 2011, 12:15 pm

Re: Matthew 5:3a

Post by Bill Ross 2 » June 4th, 2011, 2:15 pm

About the Hebrew suggestion... I would not expect that unless it came by way of the a Greek text to Matthew.
0 x

Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3465
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Re: Matthew 5:3a

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 4th, 2011, 2:23 pm

Ruminator wrote:About the Hebrew suggestion... I would not expect that unless it came by way of the a Greek text to Matthew.
Ruminator - I sent you a PM this morning asking you to change your user name to fit our policy on user names and profiles.

Please do so.
0 x
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Post Reply