1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Forum rules
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. This is not a beginner's forum, competence in Greek is assumed.
Post Reply
Davis Prickett
Posts: 6
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 4:26 pm

1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Post by Davis Prickett » November 7th, 2018, 3:07 am

θέλοντες εἶναι νομοδιδάσκαλοι, μὴ νοοῦντες μήτε ἃ λέγουσιν μήτε περὶ τίνων διαβεβαιοῦνται. 1 Tim 3:7

Most translations for μὴ νοοῦντες μήτε ἃ λέγουσιν say "not knowing what they are saying"

But is is possible to translate this something along the lines as "desiring to be teachers of the law, but not knowing it (i.e. the law), they neither know what they are saying or what they are insisting on."

It seems to me that if this was to say "not knowing what they are talking about" it would simply be μὴ νοοῦντες λέγουσιν.

Thoughts?
0 x



S Walch
Posts: 140
Joined: June 13th, 2011, 4:27 pm
Location: Manchester, UK

Re: 1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Post by S Walch » November 7th, 2018, 6:07 am

Hi Davis,

Firstly, it's 1 Tim 1:7 not 3:7 (had me confused for a second or two), and it's best to understand the first μήτε as "either", giving, "Desiring to be teachers of the Law, yet not understanding either what they are saying or what they assert".

Though there is no reason why the initial μήτε couldn't be omitted in translation, as the meaning is still the same:

Desiring to be teachers of the Law, though not understanding what they are saying or what they assert.

Depends on how formal-equivalent one desires to be :)
0 x

Stirling Bartholomew
Posts: 810
Joined: August 9th, 2012, 4:19 pm

Re: 1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » November 7th, 2018, 3:08 pm

Here are some similar samples that might be helpful:

Matt. 5:34 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως· μήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὅτι θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ θεοῦ, 35 μήτε ἐν τῇ γῇ, ὅτι ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ, μήτε εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, ὅτι πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ μεγάλου βασιλέως, 36 μήτε ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ σου ὀμόσῃς, ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι μίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ποιῆσαι ἢ μέλαιναν.

Matt. 5:34 (NRSV) But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.

Luke 7:33 ἐλήλυθεν γὰρ Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστὴς μὴ ἐσθίων ἄρτον μήτε πίνων οἶνον, καὶ λέγετε· δαιμόνιον ἔχει.

Luke 7:33 (NRSV) For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’;

Acts 23:8 Σαδδουκαῖοι μὲν γὰρ λέγουσιν μὴ εἶναι ἀνάστασιν μήτε ἄγγελον μήτε πνεῦμα, Φαρισαῖοι δὲ ὁμολογοῦσιν τὰ ἀμφότερα.

Acts 23:8 (NRSV) (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.)

Acts 23:21 σὺ οὖν μὴ πεισθῇς αὐτοῖς· ἐνεδρεύουσιν γὰρ αὐτὸν ἐξ αὐτῶν ἄνδρες πλείους τεσσεράκοντα, οἵτινες ἀνεθεμάτισαν ἑαυτοὺς μήτε φαγεῖν μήτε πιεῖν ἕως οὗ ἀνέλωσιν αὐτόν, καὶ νῦν εἰσιν ἕτοιμοι προσδεχόμενοι τὴν ἀπὸ σοῦ ἐπαγγελίαν.

Acts 23:21 (NRSV) But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him. They have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink until they kill him. They are ready now and are waiting for your consent.”

2Th. 2:1 Ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡμῶν ἐπισυναγωγῆς ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸν 2 εἰς τὸ μὴ ταχέως σαλευθῆναι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ νοὸς μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι, μήτε διὰ πνεύματος μήτε διὰ λόγου μήτε δι᾿ ἐπιστολῆς ὡς δι᾿ ἡμῶν, ὡς ὅτι ἐνέστηκεν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου· 3 Μή τις ὑμᾶς ἐξαπατήσῃ κατὰ μηδένα τρόπον. ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ ἔλθῃ ἡ ἀποστασία πρῶτον καὶ ἀποκαλυφθῇ ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας,

2Th. 2:1 (NRSV)   As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction.

1Tim. 1:5 τὸ δὲ τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας ἐστὶν ἀγάπη ἐκ καθαρᾶς καρδίας καὶ συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς καὶ πίστεως ἀνυποκρίτου, 6 ὧν τινες ἀστοχήσαντες ἐξετράπησαν εἰς ματαιολογίαν 7 θέλοντες εἶναι νομοδιδάσκαλοι, μὴ νοοῦντες μήτε ἃ λέγουσιν μήτε περὶ τίνων διαβεβαιοῦνται.

1Tim. 1:5 (NRSV) But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. 6 Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.

James 5:12 Πρὸ πάντων δέ, ἀδελφοί μου, μὴ ὀμνύετε μήτε τὸν οὐρανὸν μήτε τὴν γῆν μήτε ἄλλον τινὰ ὅρκον· ἤτω δὲ ὑμῶν τὸ ναὶ ναὶ καὶ τὸ οὒ οὔ, ἵνα μὴ ὑπὸ κρίσιν πέσητε.

James 5:12 (NRSV)   Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

Rev. 7:1 Μετὰ τοῦτο εἶδον τέσσαρας ἀγγέλους ἑστῶτας ἐπὶ τὰς τέσσαρας γωνίας τῆς γῆς, κρατοῦντας τοὺς τέσσαρας ἀνέμους τῆς γῆς ἵνα μὴ πνέῃ ἄνεμος ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς μήτε ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης μήτε ἐπὶ πᾶν δένδρον. 2 Καὶ εἶδον ἄλλον ἄγγελον ἀναβαίνοντα ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου ἔχοντα σφραγῖδα θεοῦ ζῶντος, καὶ ἔκραξεν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ τοῖς τέσσαρσιν ἀγγέλοις οἷς ἐδόθη αὐτοῖς ἀδικῆσαι τὴν γῆν καὶ τὴν θάλασσαν 3 λέγων· μὴ ἀδικήσητε τὴν γῆν μήτε τὴν θάλασσαν μήτε τὰ δένδρα, ἄχρι σφραγίσωμεν τοὺς δούλους τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ τῶν μετώπων αὐτῶν.

Rev. 7:1 (NRSV)   After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to damage earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads.”

2Th. 2:1 (NRSV)   As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction.

1Tim. 1:5 (NRSV) But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. 6 Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.
1 x
C. Stirling Bartholomew

Stephen Carlson
Posts: 2734
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne
Contact:

Re: 1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 7th, 2018, 5:28 pm

Davis Prickett wrote:
November 7th, 2018, 3:07 am
It seems to me that if this was to say "not knowing what they are talking about" it would simply be μὴ νοοῦντες λέγουσιν.
No, that would mean "not understanding they say"; you want μὴ νοοῦντες ἃ λέγουσιν for "not understanding what they are saying"
1 x
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Davis Prickett
Posts: 6
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 4:26 pm

Re: 1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Post by Davis Prickett » November 8th, 2018, 2:25 am

Right, μὴ νοοῦντες ἃ λέγουσιν would be "not understanding what they are saying." Not μὴ νοοῦντες λέγουσιν.

I think my issue with how this verse is rendered in English is that μὴ νοοῦντες doesn't seem to be as explicit the in governing the two following negations. The example in Mt 5:34 seems to be a good parallel. It is clear μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως is then further explained by the two parallel negations.

So would this be a legitimate translation to help bring that out:

But they are ignorant; being clueless of what they say and unaware of what they affirm.
0 x

Stephen Carlson
Posts: 2734
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne
Contact:

Re: 1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 8th, 2018, 3:06 am

Davis Prickett wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 2:25 am
I think my issue with how this verse is rendered in English is that μὴ νοοῦντες doesn't seem to be as explicit the in governing the two following negations. The example in Mt 5:34 seems to be a good parallel. It is clear μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως is then further explained by the two parallel negations.

So would this be a legitimate translation to help bring that out:

But they are ignorant; being clueless of what they say and unaware of what they affirm.
What renderings in English are bothering you? You haven't quoted any so it's hard to tell what the problem is or why repeating the verb (in various forms) is supposed to help with it.

It looks like μὴ νοῦντες is governing two different kinds complements in the disjunctive: (1) with the accusative (μήτε ἃ ...), and (2) with a prepositional phrase (μήτε περὶ τίνων). The difference is further accentuated in that (1) has a relative pronoun and (2) has an interrogative pronoun, but they are both functioning similarly.

So there's a partial parallelism and it's a bit awkward in English. I think you understand what the Greek means, and questions of translations, where the various alternatives are more or less faithful to the sense, are more art than science, and in any case more of an English question than a Greek one.
0 x
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Robert Emil Berge
Posts: 50
Joined: August 24th, 2016, 1:34 pm

Re: 1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Post by Robert Emil Berge » November 8th, 2018, 6:54 pm

Greek allows for double negatives where the last negative is a compound like οὐδέν or, like here, μήτε, something which standard English doesn't allow, and therefore it seems strange at first sight when it says "they don't know neither x nor y", but in Greek this is the most normal way to express this. So, no, it can not be translated as "wanting to be teachers of the law, but not knowing it", since the relative clause and indirect question clearly are objects of νοοῦντες, and therefore it doesn't make much sense to invent an unstated object in addition to these.

Edit: Just clarifying types of sentences.
1 x

Davis Prickett
Posts: 6
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 4:26 pm

Re: 1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Post by Davis Prickett » November 9th, 2018, 2:17 am

Right, it is more of an issue of how English handles such a phrase. I mainly don't like translations that combine the first compliment with μὴ νοοῦντες:

"They do not know what they are talking about" -NIV, NLT
"They do not what they are saying" -NET, HCSB

I have a preference for translations that place "neither/either" before the first complement:

"They do not understand either what they are saying" -NASB
0 x

Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3491
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Re: 1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Post by Jonathan Robie » November 9th, 2018, 8:26 am

For the construction μὴ ... μήτε ... μήτε, you can't translate literally to English. Looks like many translations choose one of these strategies:

μὴ νοοῦντες μήτε ἃ λέγουσιν μήτε περὶ τίνων διαβεβαιοῦνται.
  • neither ... nor: understanding neither what they are saying nor that about which they confidently assert. (Berean Literal Bible)
  • not ... either ... or: not understanding either what they are saying or that about which they confidently assert.
Translation is hard precisely because languages don't match up exactly. Even if you understand the construction and are translating into your native language, translation requires you to rethink what has been said into a language that thinks differently. There are other constructions much more challenging than this one.

And the relationship between this and the preceding clause also affects translations, which often insert a few words to make that relationship clearer.
0 x
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3491
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Re: 1 Tim 1:7 - μὴ... μήτε

Post by Jonathan Robie » November 9th, 2018, 8:39 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 3:06 am
So there's a partial parallelism and it's a bit awkward in English. I think you understand what the Greek means, and questions of translations, where the various alternatives are more or less faithful to the sense, are more art than science, and in any case more of an English question than a Greek one.
The SIL Exegetical Summary series is an excellent resource for seeing the various ways that each Greek sentence has been translated and the reasons for each. I recommend it for anyone interested in translation.

As Stephen implies, B-Greek is not really about translation, we focus on the meaning of the Greek.
0 x
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Post Reply