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Tutor profile: Becca H.

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Becca H.
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Subject: Greek

TutorMe
Question:

How would you explain the different ways a participle can be used in Biblical Greek?

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Becca H.
Answer:

In Biblical Greek, a "participle" is best described as a verbal substantive, verbal adjective, or verbal adverb. One example of a Greek participle used as a "verbal substantive" is found in Romans 2:22. Paul addresses an imaginary judgmental interlocutor as ὁ λέγων (ho legōn): "the one saying" (often translated as "you who say" to indicate that Paul is using it to address someone). But sometimes a participle can be used as a "verbal adjective," where it modifies a noun, as in the phrase ὁ ἄνθρωπος ὁ εἰπών (ho anthrōpos ho eipōn), "the man who'd been speaking" (see John 5:12), where the participle εἰπών (eipōn, "had been speaking") is adjectivally modifying ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos), meaning "man" or "person." And sometimes, a participle can function adverbially (or as a "verbal adverb"), as in Matthew 22:11: εἰσελθὼν δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς θεάσασθαι τοὺς ἀνακειμένους εἶδεν ἐκεῖ ἄνθρωπον... (eiselthōn de ho basileus theasasthai tous anakeimenous eiden ekei anthrōpon...), which means, "now the king, having come in to see the guests, saw there a man..." The main verb of the clause is εἶδεν (eiden), "saw." And the participle εἰσελθών (eiselthōn), "having come in," is modifying it. Therefore, the participle in this context is functioning adverbially, as it is telling us something about HOW the main verb of the sentence is happening. HOW "did he see" (εἶδεν)? He saw "having come in" (εἰσελθών). There are 9 specific ways an adverbial use of the participle in Biblical Greek can be expressed. I like to remember it this way: CCCMMPTAR. Or with the nonsense English sentence, "See, see, see, em em, pea tar." Each of the letters in "CCCMMPTAR" represents a particular nuance of how an adverbial participle could be understood, depending on the context. You have to example the context to know which one works best: "C" is for "Cause": the adverbial participle is the reason/catalyst for the main verb happening "C" is for "Condition": the main verb logically follows *if* the adverbial participle is true "C" is for "Concession": *even though* the adverbial participle is happening, the main verb happens "M" is for "Manner": the adverbial participle is the manner in which the main verb happens "M" is for "Means": the adverbial participle is the means by which the main verb happens "P" is for "Purpose": the adverbial participle is the purpose for which the main verb happens "T" is for "Time/temporal": the adverbial participle describes *when* the main verb happens "A" is for "Attendant circumstance": the adverbial participle accompanies the action of the main verb, as though the two could be joined with the conjunction "and" if it were reworded "R" is for "Result": the adverbial participle expresses the result of the consequence of the main verb For the example I used earlier, the adverbial participle εἰσελθών is modifying εἶδεν in the "time/temporal" respect (the "T" in "CCCMMPTAR"), as εἰσελθών means "having come in." So after the king came in, he "saw" (εἶδεν). As you can see, the adverbial use of the participle is by far the most complicated. But here's an example of how it can be briefly explained.

Subject: Hebrew

TutorMe
Question:

What are some of the grammatical features of Psalm 1:1 that readers of English translations would miss, and what are some pitfalls of "too literal" a translation of the original Hebrew?

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Becca H.
Answer:

The NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) of the Bible translates Psalm 1:1 in this way: "Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers..." Readers of this English translation will miss the alliteration in the very first words. Where the NRSV has "Happy are those who," the original Hebrew text has אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר ('ashrei-ha'ish 'asher, "happy is the man who" or "happy is the person who"). What a reader of the original Hebrew will notice that readers of English translations like the NRSV will not is the alliteration of the letter א, known as the "'aleph," the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet that makes a silent "h" as in "honest" sound. But there is another difference even in those first three words that people who don't know the original Hebrew would never see: The NRSV says, "Happy are THOSE who" (emphasis mine), but the original Hebrew text has a singular definite noun: הָאִ֗ישׁ (ha'ish, "the man/person"). But the NRSV isn't wrong. Even though the word אִישׁ ('ish) does primarily mean "man" (as in an individual man), its use doesn't always require a gendered translation. This use of the ordinary word for an individual "man" isn't unique to Biblical Hebrew, though. Take, for example, the following familiar proverb in English: "Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime." When we hear someone say this, we know that the word "man" there doesn't restrict this proverb from applying to women or nonbinary people. Because most languages in the world were formed by patriarchal societies where the masculine is seen as default, they often operate in this way. So it wouldn't be wrong to translate אִישׁ ('ish) in this song (a psalm is a song of praise to YHWH in the Hebrew Bible) as "person" because it can often be used without strict reference to gender. Also, the singular nature of the term in this context doesn't matter for the intended meaning. That is, this is just a generic use of הָאִ֗ישׁ (ha'ish, "the man/person") for the purpose of the point of the song, so the NRSV isn't wrong to explain it to the reader of the English translation by pluralizing it as "those": אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר ('ashrei-ha'ish 'asher, "happy are those who"). In the "Preface to the New Revised Standard Version," they explain translation choices such as these as follows: "During the almost half a century since the publication of the RSV, many in the churches have become sensitive to the danger of linguistic sexism arising from the inherent bias of the English language towards the masculine gender, a bias that in the case of the Bible has often restricted or obscured the meaning of the original text. The mandates from the Division specified that, in references to men and women, masculine-oriented language should be eliminated as far as this can be done without altering passages that reflect the historical situation of ancient patriarchal culture. As can be appreciated, more than once the Committee found that the several mandates stood in tension and even in conflict. The various concerns had to be balanced case by case in order to provide a faithful and acceptable rendering without using contrived English. Only very occasionally has the pronoun 'he' or 'him' been retained in passages where the reference may have been to a woman as well as to a man; for example, in several legal texts in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. In such instances of formal, legal language, the options of either putting the passage in the plural or of introducing additional nouns to avoid masculine pronouns in English seemed to the Committee to obscure the historic structure and literary character of the original. In the vast majority of cases, however, inclusiveness has been attained by simple rephrasing or by introducing plural forms when this does not distort the meaning of the passage. Of course, in narrative and in parable no attempt was made to generalize the sex of individual persons." But let's go back to a more literal approach. Instead of the NRSV's translation, we'll keep it in the original singular of the Hebrew and render אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר ('ashrei-ha'ish 'asher) as "Happy is the one who..." But "happy is the one who..." what? 1. לֹ֥א הָלַךְ֮ בַּעֲצַ֪ת רְשָׁ֫עִ֥ים (lo' halakh ba'atzat r'sha'îm), "...does not walk in the counsel of the wicked..." 2. וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְ חַ֭טָּאִים לֹ֥א עָמָ֑ד (uvderekh khatta'îm lo' 'amad), "...and in the way of sinners does not stand..." 3. וּבְמוֹשַׁ֥ב לֵ֝צִ֗ים לֹ֣א יָשָֽׁב (uvmôshav lētzîm lo' yāshav), "...and in the set of scoffers does not sit..." Because we took a more literal approach, we ran into an issue. I translated the second clause, וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְ חַ֭טָּאִים לֹ֥א עָמָ֑ד (uvderekh khatta'îm lo' 'amad), too literally as "and in the way of sinners does not stand." The problem there, as Old Testament/Hebrew Bible scholar Bruce Waltke once pointed out to a class I took with him, is that this literal translation miscommunicates the point of the Hebrew: The English hearer thinks, "Oh, so someone who doesn't stand in the path of sinners is 'happy' or 'blessed.'" But no. A better translation would reflect the intended meaning more clearly (it can still be literal, but different word choices in English would better communicate what is meant): "and on the road of sinners does not stand." The preposition בְּ (b') here is translated as "on." And instead of being translated as "way," for this context, the word דֶּרֶךְ (derekh) is given the more precise rendering "road." So instead of giving the false impression that what is being said here is "it's good if you don't stand in a sinner's way" as if to *avoid* blocking them, the image of "not standing on the road of sinners" presents the intended idea in clear language that the happy individual doesn't stand on the same road that sinners use, or to put it the way the NRSV helpfully does, one who doesn't "take the path that sinners tread."

Subject: Religious Studies

TutorMe
Question:

In light of Galatians 1:13, does the apostle Paul continue to see himself as "in Judaism" in the context of the the first-century Greco-Roman world, in your judgment? Why or why not?

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Becca H.
Answer:

In the Greek text of Galatians 1:13, Paul says the following: Ἠκούσατε γὰρ τὴν ἐμὴν ἀναστροφήν ποτε ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαϊσμῷ, ὅτι καθ’ ὑπερβολὴν ἐδίωκον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐπόρθουν αὐτήν... "For you have heard of my conduct at one time in Judaism, that to an extreme I was persecuting the community of God and was ravaging it" (my translation). The common assumption here is that when Paul says the Galatians have heard of his ἀναστροφήν ποτε ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαϊσμῷ (anastrophēn pote en tō Ioudaïsmō, "conduct at one time in Judaism"), he is suggesting that he he was "in Judaism" (ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαϊσμῷ, en tō Ioudaïsmō) "at one time" (ποτε, pote), meaning as of the time he is writing the letter to the Galatians, he is not "in Judaism" anymore. For example, see how N.T. Wright translates this verse in his Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011): "You heard, didn't you, the way I behaved when I was still 'within Judasim.' I persecuted the church of God violently, and ravaged it." But don't think this interpretation is demanded by the text, and the reason is that it could be understood that Paul is saying that his ἀναστροφή (anastrophē, "conduct, manner of living") in Judaism is what changed, not whether he was in Judaism or not. Paul very clearly says, "I was persecuting the community of God" (ἐδίωκον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ, ediōkon tēn ekklēsian tou theou). The phrase I translated as "community of God" (ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ, ekklēsia tou theou) is often more traditionally translated as "church of God" (e.g., cf. N.T. Wright). The word "church" is a traditional translation of the NT Greek word ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) when it refers to the gathering together of the followers of Jesus, but it's technically an anachronistic term to use for Paul's day. The English word "church" and its cognates in other languages (as in the German word Kirche) are all much later innovations since the first century, when Paul wrote this letter. Paul did not yet know that a word for the place of assembly would come to be used to translate his word choice of ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia), which I have here rendered "community" (elsewhere it can refer to an individual assembly or gathering). So by talking about how he once used to persecute the "community of God," it makes more sense to understand Paul as seeing himself as changing how he *behaves* (or *conducts himself*) in Judaism, as he now has joined the same community he once rejected, which all originated among Jewish disciples of a Jewish Jesus. Mark Nanos, who also thinks Paul should be understood as being within first-century Judaism even as he writes this letter, agrees: "Paul's phrasing [in Galatians 1:13] continues to lead interpreters to portray Paul in terms of a binary contrast between being a Jew and practicing Judaism versus being a Christian and practicing Christianity, whatever terms might be used. But the language Paul uses here arguably describes a certain way of living in Judaism that no longer characterizes the way he lives in Judaism now." See Mark Nanos, "Paul and Judaism: Why Not Paul's Judaism?" in Reading Paul Within Judaism: Collected Essays of Mark D. Nanos, Vol. 1 (Eugene, OR: Wipe and Stock Publishers, 2017), Loc. 775-781 of 5769, Kindle edition. "Christianity" as a religion distinct from Judaism had yet to emerge anyway. The Greek word Χριστιανισμός (Christianismos, "Christianity") appears nowhere in the New Testament, and the word Χριστιανός (Christianos, "Christian") appears nowhere in Paul's letters, even the disputed ones. In fact, the word Χριστιανός only appears three times in the entire New Testament: twice in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 11:26 and 26:28) and once in 1 Peter (see 1 Peter 4:16), and from its occurrence in Acts 11:26, the word seems to be a term imposed on early Jesus followers by outsiders, which were all Jews, including Paul. There was arguably not going to be a hard separation between Judaism and the movement within it that would one day become Christianity for some time.

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