Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

How can I learn to express my ideas in clear and intelligible Greek?

Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

Postby Charlie Johnson » August 4th, 2011, 6:50 pm

For composition practice, I'm rendering questions form the Westminster Shorter Catechism into idiomatic Koine. Advice and corrections welcome. The English is available here

So far, I'm not sure how to handle the odd singular-plural in question #2. "Of the old and new covenants" in English is ambiguous. It's referring to a singular old covenant and a singular new covenant that, taken together, constitute the plural "covenants." But, grammatically, it could be referring to multiple old and multiple new covenants. I'm not sure I've encountered a parallel phenomenon in Greek.

Also, concerning #4, I think το ειναι is an acceptable rendering of "being," but I don't think my syntax communicates clearly the meaning of the answer.

Westminster Μικρότερος Κατήχησις

1. Επερώτημα: τί εστιν τὸ *αρχιτέλος* ανθρωπου;
Απόκρισις: τὸ αρχιτέλος ανθρώπου ἐστὶν θεὸν δοξάζειν καὶ ἐμπιπλάναι εις τὸν αιῶνα.

2. Ε: τίνα κανόνα τοῦ αὐτὸν δοξάζειν καὶ ἐμπιπλάναι ἡμίν Θεός δέδωκεν;
Α: Θεοῦ ὁ λόγος ὁ εν ταῖς τῆς παλαιᾶς καὶ καινῆς διαθήκης γραφαῖς κατεχόμενος ἐστιν ὁ μόνος κανών τοῦ αὐτὸν δοξάζειν καὶ εὐδοκεῖν.

3. Ε: τίνα μάλιστα διδασκεῖ αἱ γραφαί;
Α: αἱ γραφαὶ μάλιστα διδασκεῖ τε τὰ ανθρώπους δεῖ πιστεύειν περὶ θεοῦ καὶ τὰ θεός εκζητεῖ τῶν ανθρῶπων.

4. Ε: τί εστιν θεός;
Α: Θεός εστιν πνεῦμα ἄπειρον αί̈διον καὶ ἀμετάθετον ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοῦ σοφιᾳ δυναμει ἁγιάσμῳ δικαιοσύνῃ αγαθωσυνῃ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ.
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Re: Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

Postby Stephen Carlson » August 7th, 2011, 8:24 am

Charlie Johnson wrote:Also, concerning #4, I think το ειναι is an acceptable rendering of "being," but I don't think my syntax communicates clearly the meaning of the answer.

4. Ε: τί εστιν θεός;
Α: Θεός εστιν πνεῦμα ἄπειρον αί̈διον καὶ ἀμετάθετον ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοῦ σοφιᾳ δυναμει ἁγιάσμῳ δικαιοσύνῃ αγαθωσυνῃ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ.


I'm desperately trying to remember my Trinitinarian Greek terminology, but I think that "being" as used here would be ὑπόστασις, not εἶναι.

Stephen
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Re: Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

Postby Charlie Johnson » August 7th, 2011, 2:16 pm

I've made a number of changes, including replacing ειναι with ουσια.


1. Επερώτημα: τί εστιν τὸ αρχιτέλος ανθρωπου;
Απόκρισις: τὸ αρχιτέλος ανθρώπου ἐστὶν θεὸν δοξάζειν καὶ αὐτοῦ ἐμπίμπλασθαι εις τὸν αιῶνα.

2. Ε: τίνα κανόνα τοῦ αὐτὸν δοξάζειν καὶ αὐτοῦ ἐμπίμπλασθαι ἡμίν Θεός δέδωκεν;
Α: Θεοῦ ὁ λόγος ὁ εν ταῖς τῆς παλαιᾶς καὶ καινῆς διαθήκης γραφαῖς κατεχόμενος ἐστιν ὁ μόνος κανών τοῦ αὐτὸν δοξάζειν καὶ αὐτοῦ ἐμπίμπλασθαι.

3. Ε: τίνα μάλιστα διδασκεῖ αἱ γραφαί;
Α: αἱ γραφαὶ μάλιστα διδασκεῖ τε τὰ ανθρώπους δεῖ πιστεύειν περὶ θεοῦ καὶ τὰ θεός εκζητεῖ τῶν ανθρῶπων.

4. Ε: τί εστιν θεός;
Α: Θεός εστιν πνεῦμα ἄπειρον αί̈διον καὶ ἀμετάθετον ἐν τῇ οὐσίᾳ αὐτοῦ σοφίᾳ δύναμει ἁγιάσμῳ δικαιοσύνῃ αγαθωσύνῃ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ.
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Re: Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

Postby cwconrad » August 8th, 2011, 8:43 am

I would just note that Κατήχησις is a feminine noun; shouldn't the corresponding adjective be μικροτέρα?
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Re: Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

Postby Charlie Johnson » August 8th, 2011, 10:01 am

So, what you're saying, Carl, is that I need a LOT more practice. Thanks for the catch.
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Re: Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

Postby Barry Hofstetter » August 8th, 2011, 10:15 pm

This thread absolutely cracks me up... When it's been worked up a bit, I'd love to give it to some seminary Greek students, without telling them what it is, and see the fun. When I tutored Ph.D. students in Latin, I once used a passage from 1 Maccabees in Latin for one of the sight readings on the final exam. One of the students said, "This drove me crazy. It sounded like Scripture, but I couldn't quite place it..." :lol:

In fact, I might try it on my current Greek students at TAA. They all have memorized the Shorter Catechism...
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Re: Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

Postby cwconrad » August 9th, 2011, 8:24 am

Charlie Johnson wrote:So, what you're saying, Carl, is that I need a LOT more practice. Thanks for the catch.


Well, I am somewhat astonished that you've chosen to practice on a task that would daunt seasoned composers of
ancient/Biblical Greek. My guess is that the Shorter Catechism would go more easily into the Renaissance Latin that
its English composers certainly knew well (as well as they knew their Greek, I doubt not) but they thought in Latin
about theological doctrines and I think that their theological English was probably based more upon Latin terminology.

So, yes, I think it is a fine, indeed, an essential part of mastering ancient Greek, to learn to compose phrases,
sentences, and paragraphs of connected Greek text that convey the sense of what's in your mind or of a text
in your native language. But I think it might be better to work through one of the elementary Greek composition books
such as North and Hilliard and develop a solid grasp of how to formulate basic structural units of phrases and
clauses before tackling a task like converting the Westminster S.C. into Koine Greek. I don't doubt that it can
be done, but the elements of composition need to be mastered before attempting an exercise of this magnitude,
an exercise which, in my opinion, will very likely lead one into equating English words with Greek words rather
than grasping English phrases and clauses and recasting them into idiomatic Greek phrases and clauses.

If one is, nevertheless, to persevere in an effort like this, one ought to be looking at authentic models of
theological expression as used by 16th-century Reformation theologians who wrote Greek -- such as
Sir Thomas More and Erasmus (I'm sure that they wrote much more Latin than they did Greek) -- or even
John Milton. I think that composition in Greek will always be made easier if one is reading at the same times
the kinds of texts that one is trying to imitate.

So, yes. I guess I'm saying fundamentally that I admire your enthusiasm and earnest ambition more than
your judgment.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
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Re: Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

Postby Barry Hofstetter » August 9th, 2011, 9:09 pm

cwconrad wrote:
Well, I am somewhat astonished that you've chosen to practice on a task that would daunt seasoned composers of
ancient/Biblical Greek. My guess is that the Shorter Catechism would go more easily into the Renaissance Latin that
its English composers certainly knew well (as well as they knew their Greek, I doubt not) but they thought in Latin
about theological doctrines and I think that their theological English was probably based more upon Latin terminology.


In fact, an edition of the Westminster Standards was published in Latin shortly after the English came out. This is actually of historical interest, since it was normally the other way around – theological documents tended to be published in Latin first and then a vernacular rendering somewhat later, which says something about the actual intent of the writers. I have never seen the Latin edition... But here is a link: http://www.reformationfiles.com/files/d ... e=wcf.html

Now, this is way off topic, so as a moderator, I formally admonish myself... :P
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Re: Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

Postby Murray Hogg » September 21st, 2011, 3:26 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:This thread absolutely cracks me up... When it's been worked up a bit, I'd love to give it to some seminary Greek students, without telling them what it is, and see the fun. When I tutored Ph.D. students in Latin, I once used a passage from 1 Maccabees in Latin for one of the sight readings on the final exam. One of the students said, "This drove me crazy. It sounded like Scripture, but I couldn't quite place it..." :lol:

In fact, I might try it on my current Greek students at TAA. They all have memorized the Shorter Catechism...


One of my lecturers at Bible College told me of a time that he and another lecturer composed an exam for Romans in which the passages proffered for translation were randomly selected from the church fathers.

Apparently the students sat in stunned disbelief straining at these passages until somebody blurted out, "This isn't Romans!"

At which point the proper exam papers were distributed.

The moral of the story: if you try this on students, be sure you forever watch your back. Apparently sweet revenge was had by the student group, as one can well imagine.
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Re: Westminster Μικροτέρα Κατήχησις

Postby Barry Hofstetter » September 22nd, 2011, 6:57 am

Murray Hogg wrote:
One of my lecturers at Bible College told me of a time that he and another lecturer composed an exam for Romans in which the passages proffered for translation were randomly selected from the church fathers.

Apparently the students sat in stunned disbelief straining at these passages until somebody blurted out, "This isn't Romans!"

At which point the proper exam papers were distributed.

The moral of the story: if you try this on students, be sure you forever watch your back. Apparently sweet revenge was had by the student group, as one can well imagine.


When tutoring Ph.D. students at WTS in Latin, one semester their final exam was a selection from the Latin of First Maccabees. About halfway through, a student blurted out, "This is driving me nuts. It sounds like the Bible, but I can't figure out where!"

He still managed to pass the exam, however. That the students in your anecdote above couldn't deal with the text proves how inadequate their Greek preparation really was.
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