Words for nature, automatic, natural and existence?

Words for nature, automatic, natural and existence?

Postby Chris Eilers » September 15th, 2012, 10:44 pm

I would be grateful if anyone could tell me whether Biblical Greek had words for:
1) “nature” (as in the nature of trees);
2) “automatic” or “natural” (in the sense of something that happens of own accord, and invariably happens in certain circumstances);
3) “existence”.

At a guess, there have always been ways to express such concepts in any particular language, but my query is whether these concepts were embodied in single words (or short phrases signifying these meanings) in Biblical Greek that could reasonably be translated as the words above, or whether the meanings of the words above entered language as single words at a later date.

If there are Biblical Greek words or phrases that can reasonably be translated as the meanings above, are there other meanings that can also be indicated by the same Biblical Greek words or phrases?
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Re: Words for nature, automatic, natural and existence?

Postby David Lim » September 19th, 2012, 11:36 am

Chris Eilers wrote:I would be grateful if anyone could tell me whether Biblical Greek had words for:
1) “nature” (as in the nature of trees);
2) “automatic” or “natural” (in the sense of something that happens of own accord, and invariably happens in certain circumstances);
3) “existence”.

Probably these are the most common?
(1) φυσις
(2) αυτοματος
(3) το ειναι
You can try http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/efts/Woodhouse/ for more suggestions. :)

If there are Biblical Greek words or phrases that can reasonably be translated as the meanings above, are there other meanings that can also be indicated by the same Biblical Greek words or phrases?

Certainly. But I think "το ειναι" is as precisely vague as "existence".
δαυιδ λιμ
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Re: Words for nature, automatic, natural and existence?

Postby Chris Eilers » September 19th, 2012, 9:56 pm

Thanks, David. For some reason it didn’t occur to me that I could google for an online distionary that translated English into Attic (Biblical) Greek, and that such a dictionary would provide the English senses for the various Greek words and phrases it listed.
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Re: Words for nature, automatic, natural and existence?

Postby RandallButh » September 20th, 2012, 2:30 am

There is a conceptual problem that should be changed before going further.
"Biblical Greek" is not a language any more than "Good News New Testament" is a language. Both are snapshots of a language and they only make sense within their larger community language.

In other words, in order to understand Paul, one needs to know what he said and to read it against what he could have said, linguistically, syntactically, and lexically speaking. On being, nature, and automaticity, you may enjoy reading some of Epictetus from the first century who frequently relates to these questions.
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Re: Words for nature, automatic, natural and existence?

Postby Chris Eilers » September 20th, 2012, 8:21 pm

Thanks for your thoughts, Randall. I appreciate the point about languages being a snapshot at a particular time and in a particular context, and the problem of understanding any given piece of writing in the context of what could have been said at the time, given the lexical range available at the time.

It’s so easy to interpret a translation of what was said at an earlier time in a different language according to the current lexical range in English, which has vastly expanded over millennia, and consequently to make an incorrect interpretation.

Nonetheless, I’ve found online dictionaries that translate between English and Attic Greek, and English and classical Hebrew, to be useful.
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