Phil.1:21 κέρδος/κερδῆσαι, κτᾶσθαι, χρῆμα, αὐξάνειν/αὔξησις

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.

Phil.1:21 κέρδος/κερδῆσαι, κτᾶσθαι, χρῆμα, αὐξάνειν/αὔξησις

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 31st, 2014, 7:16 am

I'm sorry this post is even more dishevelIed than my post ordinarily are... I've been looking at it for over a month and it still doesn't mean what I think it should, so it is probably time to put it up for discussion and input by others.

Philipians 1:21 wrote:Ἐμοὶ γὰρ τὸ ζῇν, Χριστός· καὶ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν, κέρδος.


It doesn't seem to be a big thing, but I want to explore the sense of κέρδος, looking at what it means and what nuance it carries. Also, I want to explore what senses other (related) words have, which are not what κέρδος/κερδῆσαι express.

Starting with κερδῆσαι, which seems to mean "to work and strive to get" and (sometimes) even with the sense "to obtain after the striving and working for something". The final attainment is an optional part of the meaning I think.

Now for κτᾶσθαι... Let's begin with a discussion of a verse;
From reading in English, the main point in Acts 8:20
τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐνόμισας διὰ χρημάτων κτᾶσθαι.
"you thought that the gift of God is acquired by money". seems to be the money.

That is to say that money is the problem that is primarily being rebuked. But I think that in the Greek what is striking is the choice of verb. it seems that the usual verbs to be collocated with δωρεά would be δοῦναι and λαβεῖν. The use of other verbs (or those two verbs in a different aspect) would be noted as significant. In this case having the verb κτᾶσθαι with δωρεάν would sound strange on the ears - giving rise to perhaps a feel of "this guy really didn't know how things work with God" or perhaps even humour - for people to laugh at.

κτήτωρ btw is owner.

χρῆμα is not only "money", but "money - the thing with which you (can) have that is useful for getting something else". cf. νόμισμα "coin" which is the physical money

αὔξ(άν)ειν/αὔξησις
Seems to refer to getting more by organic increase rather than by addition or acquisition.

If κέρδος is the gain / acquisition that one aims to get after working hard to get it. How does that fit in here if it doesn't mean that after death there is a reward for works?
"αἴκα" (The Spartan Ephors' reply to Philip II of Macedon) is even better than "nuts" (General Anthony McAuliffe reply to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz).
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Re: Phil.1:21 κέρδος/κερδῆσαι, κτᾶσθαι, χρῆμα, αὐξάνειν/αὔξη

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 31st, 2014, 7:25 am

This sounds like a job for a dictionary based on semantic domains. Have you consulted Louw-Nida? It has been put online here at: http://www.laparola.net/greco/louwnida.php
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: Utility of Louw-Nida

Postby cwconrad » January 31st, 2014, 9:06 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:This sounds like a job for a dictionary based on semantic domains. Have you consulted Louw-Nida? It has been put online here at: http://www.laparola.net/greco/louwnida.php

It seems to me I've seen a lot of bad-mouthing of Louw-Nida, but it is the only lexical resource for Hellenistic Greek in print (or electronic) that approaches the utility of a thesaurus that distinguishes nuances between words of related meaning. And that's something that is important to discern, as I have reiterated ad nauseam in admonitions to study lexical entries and texts cited in them rather than use the lexicon to do a quick hunt for a gloss to the Greek word in a text being read.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Phil.1:21 κέρδος/κερδῆσαι, κτᾶσθαι, χρῆμα, αὐξάνειν/αὔξη

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 31st, 2014, 10:31 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:This sounds like a job for a dictionary based on semantic domains. Have you consulted Louw-Nida? It has been put online here at: http://www.laparola.net/greco/louwnida.php

Yes, I did some time ago. It does list similar words together as Carl notes too, but it doesn't give a discussion of how they compare to each other.
κέρδος. The reader sort of has to almost guess from the English what the nuances in meaning are.
"αἴκα" (The Spartan Ephors' reply to Philip II of Macedon) is even better than "nuts" (General Anthony McAuliffe reply to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz).
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Re: Phil.1:21 κέρδος/κερδῆσαι, κτᾶσθαι, χρῆμα, αὐξάνειν/αὔξη

Postby Tony Pope » February 1st, 2014, 1:17 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:Starting with κερδῆσαι, which seems to mean "to work and strive to get" and (sometimes) even with the sense "to obtain after the striving and working for something". The final attainment is an optional part of the meaning I think.
...
If κέρδος is the gain / acquisition that one aims to get after working hard to get it. How does that fit in here if it doesn't mean that after death there is a reward for works?


Does κέρδος necessarily have anything to do with working in order to get the gain? I checked Spicq's article on ζημία, ζημιόω, κέρδος, κερδαίνω (Theological Lexicon of the New Testament Vol 2, 157-60) and found the following statement on p. 159: "kerdos is used for all sorts of advantages and acquisitions." In the footnotes he references among others some passages from Epictetus that don't seem to imply working for the gain.

Epict. 1.28.12-13 ἐφάνη τῷ Ἀλεξάνδρῳ ἀπάγειν τοῦ Μενελάου τὴν γυναῖκα, ἐφάνη τῇ Ἑλένῃ ἀκολουθῆσαι αὐτῷ. 13 εἰ οὖν ἐφάνη τῷ Μενελάῳ παθεῖν ὅτι κέρδος ἐστὶ τοιαύτης γυναικὸς στερηθῆναι, τί ἂν ἐγένετο;
It seemed to Paris that he should carry off the wife of Menelaus. It seemed to Helen that she should follow him. If, then, it had seemed to Menelaus that it was an advantage to be robbed of such a wife, what could have happened?

3.22.36-37 ‘οὔ,’ φησίν, ‘ἀλλὰ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ μου τὸ γυναικάριον ἡρπάγη.’ οὐκ οὖν κέρδος μέγα στερηθῆναι μοιχικοῦ γυναικαρίου;
No; but the wife of my brother was carried off. Was it not then a great gain to be deprived of an adulterous wife?.

And a bit higher up another one from Epictetus:

3.26.25 ἀλλὰ σκεῦος μὲν ὁλόκληρον καὶ χρήσιμον ἔξω ἐρριμμένον πᾶς τις εὑρὼν ἀναιρήσεται καὶ κέρδος ἡγήσεται, σὲ δ᾽ οὐδείς, ἀλλὰ πᾶς ζημίαν.
but although, if any sound, useful vessel be thrown out of doors, whoever finds it will take it up and prize it as something gained, yet nobody will take you up, but everybody esteem you a loss.
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Re: Phil.1:21 κέρδος/κερδῆσαι, κτᾶσθαι, χρῆμα, αὐξάνειν/αὔξη

Postby Stephen Hughes » February 2nd, 2014, 10:19 am

I am really having getting beyond English to understand this phrase... and I don't really understand the English either.

Which type of gain is κέρδος, from among your suggestions?

Is it the action of dying that is a gain? How would it be if Ἐμοὶ ...τὸ ἀποθανεῖν, κέρδος. were rewritten as Ἐμοὶ ...τὸ κερδῆσαι, θάνατος? With the definite article here, is the construction really a dative + infinitive construction with κέρδος? It could be, but that is not the way that Christ is used.

Is κέρδος the result of a gaining or is it the process of gaining?

I think that in English we can sort of fudge a meaning for "gain" (on an analogy with "advantage"), but there is a problem with the overall construction.
"αἴκα" (The Spartan Ephors' reply to Philip II of Macedon) is even better than "nuts" (General Anthony McAuliffe reply to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz).
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