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How did we end up writing φιλεω with an ε if its never used?

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How did we end up writing φιλεω with an ε if its never used?

Postby Ιακοβ » Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:40 am

I've been reading the grammar rules in Duff's "The Elements of New Testament Greek", it's my understanding that words that end in "εω" in the dictionary are never actually written like that anywhere in the greek bible texts. For example, I understand you could find φιλω, φιλεις, φιλει, φιλουμεν, φιλετε, φιλουσιν, in NT greek texts, but never actually find φιλεω.

Given this, where did the idea that you would put an ε in the dictionary form come from? Are there ancient dictionaries, or other texts that show this? Or did someone just make it up?
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Re: How did we end up writing φιλεω with an ε if its never u

Postby Markos » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:15 pm

Ιακοβ wrote:Or did someone just make it up?

Yes, more or less, someone just made it up. The practice has been criticized. No, ancient dictionaries do not do this. Of course one cannot tell from the first person indicatives φιλῶ and ἀγαπῶ which is an epsilon and which is an alpha contract verb. But there are other ways to present forms which do distinguish, the second person φιλεῖς/ἀγαπᾷς or the infinitive φιλεῖν/ἀγαπᾶν. The argument is that showing the un-contracted forms is the simplest and less confusing way to do it. But there is always a tension between simplifying, or in this case sort a sort of reification, and trying to stay true to the "real" Greek. While my sympathies generally lie against the mindset that teaches Greek in this way, (I'm not a fan of paradigms to begin with, and the NT φιλέω seems of a piece with Grammar/Translation) in this case I don't really have a problem with it since the un-contracted forms do in fact exist all over Homer.
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Re: How did we end up writing φιλεω with an ε if its never u

Postby Calgacus » Sun Apr 19, 2015 12:57 am

Markos wrote:I don't really have a problem with it since the un-contracted forms do in fact exist all over Homer.


And Herodotus too, of course, which is one of the reasons why I'm fine with the convention although it does cause some confusion for students. I suppose it would be possible to have a vocabulary listing as "φιλῶ (έω)".
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Re: How did we end up writing φιλεω with an ε if its never u

Postby Qimmik » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:04 am

Someone didn't just make this up. In fact, the uncontracted form φιλέω does occur in the corpus of ancient Greek texts, if not in the New Testament:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/searchresults?target=greek&collections=Perseus%3Acollection%3AGreco-Roman&all_words=file%2Fw&phrase=&any_words=&exclude_words=&search=Search

The Greeks knew that the form φιλῶ was contracted from φιλέω (just as we are aware that "don't" is a contraction of "do not"), and they could use the uncontracted form φιλέω when it suited their purpose--for example, in elegiac epigrams from the Roman period written in the archaic Ionian dialect appropriate to the genre.
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