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Help me in translating this Greek into English

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Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby marcpgangmei » Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:31 pm

Help me in translating this Greek into English
ήλθομεν προσκυησαι αύτω
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby renaissancemedici » Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:14 am

καὶ ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ

and we have come to worship him
Πολλ' οίδ' ἀλώπηξ, ἐχῖνος δέ έν, μέγα.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Qimmik » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:30 am

ήλθομεν προσκυησαι αύτω -- we came to give birth to both of them.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby renaissancemedici » Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:41 am

I am a bit confused. There is a verb προσκυέω? And what about the "both of them"?
Πολλ' οίδ' ἀλώπηξ, ἐχῖνος δέ έν, μέγα.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Qimmik » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:52 am

προσκυέω -- an obvious compound of προσ+κυέω.

αύτω - dual
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby renaissancemedici » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:04 pm

I had never known of προσκυέω before, and I searched at Liddell-Scott and couldn't find it.

Sorry to insist, I really want to learn, no other motive.
Πολλ' οίδ' ἀλώπηξ, ἐχῖνος δέ έν, μέγα.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Qimmik » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:27 pm

Did you look in the LSJ Supplement?

No, you won't find προσκυέω in LSJ, but you will find κυέω, and προσκυέω is a natural compound.

Besides, it was a joke--a stab at translating the original sentence with its mistakes.
Last edited by Qimmik on Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby renaissancemedici » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:29 pm

Ok, thank you.
Πολλ' οίδ' ἀλώπηξ, ἐχῖνος δέ έν, μέγα.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby mwh » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:50 am

Better "we came", not "we have come"
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Victor » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:26 pm

mwh wrote:Better "we came", not "we have come"

Though English translations generally render ἤλθομεν in this context (Matthew II, 2) with a present perfect - "we have come".
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby mwh » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:46 pm

Yes but they shouldn't.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Victor » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:36 pm

mwh wrote:Yes but they shouldn't.

So what reason do you think the many translators had for translating ἤλθομεν here as a present perfect rather than a simple past? Pure ignorance?
Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γεννηθέντος ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἐν ἡμέραις Ἡρῴδου τοῦ βασιλέως, ἰδοὺ μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν παρεγένοντο εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα 2 λέγοντες· Ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ τεχθεὶς βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby mwh » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:47 pm

Well I don't know but I guess because it sounds more natural in English? But what the Greek unarguably says is "for we saw his star in the east and came to do him obeisance" - both verbs aorist.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Victor » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:09 am

Xen. Anab. III, 2, 29
ὁρᾶτε γὰρ καὶ τοὺς πολεμίους ὅτι οὐ πρόσθεν ἐξενεγκεῖν ἐτόλμησαν πρὸς ἡμᾶς πόλεμον πρὶν τοὺς στρατηγοὺς ἡμῶν συνέλαβον, νομίζοντες ὄντων μὲν τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ ἡμῶν πειθομένων ἱκανοὺς εἶναι ἡμᾶς περιγενέσθαι τῷ πολέμῳ, λαβόντες δὲ τοὺς ἄρχοντας ἀναρχίᾳ ἂν καὶ ἀταξίᾳ ἐνόμιζον ἡμᾶς ἀπολέσθαι.
Similarly, here the Greek aorist unarguably says "until they seized our generals", yet it is naturally rendered with an English pluperfect. I leave aside the overwhelming number of occasions when a Greek imperfect has to be translated with an English simple past, because "was...-ing" or "used to..." is plainly unidiomatic.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby mwh » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:30 am

Wow I didn't expect this resistance, and I certainly don't want to be argumentative.

But (such a statement has to be followed by a But, don't you think?) for what it's worth, the instances you cite are not on a par. Yes aorists are often translated by pluperfect in English, and so they should be. That's because English doesn't always use tenses as Greek does. In the Xenophon instance, for instance, the seizing preceded the daring: in such cases Greek routinely uses aorist, English pluperfect. And yes Greek imperfect is often more idiomatically rendered with English simple past, but that doesn't make the semantic distinction between aorist and imperfect any less real. But there are very few cases where the distinction between aorist and perfect should not be respected in English translation, and I see no reason why it shouldn't be respected here. "We saw the star and came to worship (sc. and lo, here we are!) -- what's wrong with that?

I can't speak for NT translators, but translators do tend to copy from one another, don't they, and once "we have come" had gotten in I can understand if it was hard to replace it with a more accurate rendering. (I haven't checked translations and don't know when it started or if there are exceptions.) Anything useful in the NT grammars or lexica? There might be (again, I haven't checked). It could be that I'm wrong (it has been known;)), but then the question is why should the verb be aorist and not perfect, if it's functioning as a perfect. A conceivable answer might be "because the perfect (elhlythamen) is such an awkward form that perhaps it tended to get displaced by the easier aorist." But the NT is perfectly comfortable with using the perfect form, isn't it, just as koine in general is? (Admittedly I haven't checked usage in Matthew; maybe he's different?)
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:05 am

Wow, here we are arguing about the Greek tense/aspect system! :) You're welcome to comment on the lengthy post in the Homer Forum as well!

Personnally, if I'm any judge (my NT Greek is rusty), I think both "we came" and "we have come" are good translations. As to why the writer didn't use the perfect - I think it's because the perfect is essentially a present tense, and it would basically mean "we are here/here we are", i.e. it's "perfect sense" would be too strong. But you can't find exact correspondences between languages; these words represent a spectrum, and the sense of some forms in different languages overlap. From left to right, the leftmost has the least "perfect sense" (in the lack of a better word) and the rightmost the most:

we came - ἤλθομεν - we have come - ἐληλύθαμεν - we are here
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Victor » Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:37 pm

mwh wrote:Wow I didn't expect this resistance, and I certainly don't want to be argumentative.

But (such a statement has to be followed by a But, don't you think?) for what it's worth, the instances you cite are not on a par. Yes aorists are often translated by pluperfect in English, and so they should be. That's because English doesn't always use tenses as Greek does. In the Xenophon instance, for instance, the seizing preceded the daring: in such cases Greek routinely uses aorist, English pluperfect. And yes Greek imperfect is often more idiomatically rendered with English simple past, but that doesn't make the semantic distinction between aorist and imperfect any less real. But there are very few cases where the distinction between aorist and perfect should not be respected in English translation, and I see no reason why it shouldn't be respected here. "We saw the star and came to worship (sc. and lo, here we are!) -- what's wrong with that?

I can't speak for NT translators, but translators do tend to copy from one another, don't they, and once "we have come" had gotten in I can understand if it was hard to replace it with a more accurate rendering. (I haven't checked translations and don't know when it started or if there are exceptions.) Anything useful in the NT grammars or lexica? There might be (again, I haven't checked). It could be that I'm wrong (it has been known;)), but then the question is why should the verb be aorist and not perfect, if it's functioning as a perfect. A conceivable answer might be "because the perfect (elhlythamen) is such an awkward form that perhaps it tended to get displaced by the easier aorist." But the NT is perfectly comfortable with using the perfect form, isn't it, just as koine in general is? (Admittedly I haven't checked usage in Matthew; maybe he's different?)

There are innumerable examples in the NT of indicative aorists that have been widely translated by the English perfect.

A few from Matthew alone are given below.

Οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής· αὐτὸς ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν 14, 2
Ἐὰν δὲ ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ ὁ ἀδελφός σου, ὕπαγε ἔλεγξον αὐτὸν μεταξὺ σοῦ καὶ αὐτοῦ μόνου. ἐάν σου ἀκούσῃ, ἐκέρδησας τὸν ἀδελφόν σου· 18, 15
καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων· Ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς· 28, 18
γνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Τί κόπους παρέχετε τῇ γυναικί; ἔργον γὰρ καλὸν ἠργάσατο εἰς ἐμέ· 26, 10
Ταῦτα αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος αὐτοῖς ἰδοὺ ἄρχων εἷς ἐλθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ λέγων ὅτι Ἡ θυγάτηρ μου ἄρτι ἐτελεύτησεν· 9, 18
ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν ἤδη ἐμοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ. 5, 28
καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν· 6, 12
εἰ δὲ ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ ἐγὼ ἐκβάλλω τὰ δαιμόνια, ἄρα ἔφθασεν ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. 12, 28

Re usage in classical Greek, Smyth (sect. 1940) tells us "In Greek the aorist, which simply states a past occurrence, is often employed where English uses the perfect denoting a present condition resulting from a past action. Thus παρεκάλεσα ὑμᾶς, ἄνδρες φίλοι - I (have) summoned you, my friends".
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby mwh » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:39 am

Fair enough, and perhaps I'm too much of a purist. But I'd prefer to use english simple past in all of these instances, if only in order to show the difference in meaning from the greek perfect.
"I called you here today, my friends, (to urge respect for the aorist.)"
In our target sentence we have two aorists in parallel, linked by kai. What justification can there be for translating them differently?
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Victor » Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:35 pm

Either translation of ἤλθομεν, simple past or perfect, is justifiable in the present case. The use of two concurrent aorists and their being conjoined by καὶ is no guarantee that the second event is implied as having been completed or even initiated hard upon the first, though. My own feeling, and evidently that of others (e.g. the American Standard version*), is that the action described by εἴδομεν is conceived of as having occurred relatively remotely (days or weeks) before the time of speaking, and should be rendered in English by the simple past, whilst the action described by ἤλθομεν is presented as just completed at the moment the speakers announce the reason for their arrival, and in consequence should be rendered by the perfect.

One factor in the choice of translation that nobody has mentioned, but that may be influential, is the divergent usage of simple past and perfect tenses among speakers of American and British English: speakers of Am. E. favour simple pasts in some circumstances where speakers of Br. E. prefer perfects. I don't know which variety of English is native to you, but certainly for a native speaker of British English translating ἐκέρδησας (18, 15), ἠργάσατο (26, 10), ἐτελεύτησεν (9, 18), ἐμοίχευσεν (5, 28), and ἔφθασεν (12, 28) as simple pasts would leave an impression not merely of "translation English", written by someone wishing "to show the difference in meaning from the Greek perfect", but of decidedly unnatural English idiom.

* "for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him."
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Markos » Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:53 pm

Victor wrote: My own feeling, and evidently that of others (e.g. the American Standard version*), is that the action described by εἴδομεν is conceived of as having occurred relatively remotely (days or weeks) before the time of speaking, and should be rendered in English by the simple past, whilst the action described by ἤλθομεν is presented as just completed at the moment the speakers announce the reason for their arrival, and in consequence should be rendered by the perfect.

* "for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him."


Indeed, the sense being:

ἰδόντες γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ, πάρεσμεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby mwh » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:23 am

Sorry guys, it just won't wash.

Victor wrote:Either translation of ἤλθομεν, simple past or perfect, is justifiable in the present case. The use of two concurrent aorists and their being conjoined by καὶ is no guarantee that the second event is implied as having been completed or even initiated hard upon the first, though. My own feeling, and evidently that of others (e.g. the American Standard version*), is that the action described by εἴδομεν is conceived of as having occurred relatively remotely (days or weeks) before the time of speaking, and should be rendered in English by the simple past, whilst the action described by ἤλθομεν is presented as just completed at the moment the speakers announce the reason for their arrival, and in consequence should be rendered by the perfect.

The point is that there is no indication of any such differentiation IN THE GREEK. The two verbs are presented in parallel, on a par with one another, and any semantic distinction between them is imported by us, and falsifies the text. They have to be translated identically.

Victor wrote:One factor in the choice of translation that nobody has mentioned, but that may be influential, is the divergent usage of simple past and perfect tenses among speakers of American and British English: speakers of Am. E. favour simple pasts in some circumstances where speakers of Br. E. prefer perfects. I don't know which variety of English is native to you, but certainly for a native speaker of British English translating ἐκέρδησας (18, 15), ἠργάσατο (26, 10), ἐτελεύτησεν (9, 18), ἐμοίχευσεν (5, 28), and ἔφθασεν (12, 28) as simple pasts would leave an impression not merely of "translation English", written by someone wishing "to show the difference in meaning from the Greek perfect", but of decidedly unnatural English idiom.

This is true, and a good point. In certain parts of the world, California for one, "Did you eat?" is used to ask if someone has already had lunch, in other parts, e.g. England, "Have you eaten?" is used.

And it's true that even in American English some of the instances you cite, especially the first, would sound more natural with the "have gained" form. And I'd add to your list 6.12, the Lord's prayer [unless there's been a collapse between ἀφήκαμεν and ἀφείκαμεν, which is quite conceivable - I haven't investigated. - I see that Mark has Ἰδοὺ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν πάντα καὶ ἠκολουθήκαμέν σοι (10.28), as if ἀφήκαμεν is being used as equivalent to the "correct" perfect ἀφείκαμεν--while in Matt this becomes Ἰδοὺ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν πάντα καὶ ἠκολουθήσαμέν σοι, unequivocally aorist. Well, I leave this hanging. There must be literature on this.] - Anyhow, to that extent I'll relent: occasionally the aorist may most naturally be translated by the english "has" form. But (i) that only shows that even main-clause aorist doesn't quite invariably map exactly on to English simple past (English idiom may differ), (ii) that's all the more reason to read the text in Greek and not in translation, for otherwise the semantic difference between aorist and perfect is lost, and (iii) in any event this does NOT apply in the case of our target sentence, where there's nothing unnatural-sounding about "We saw his star and came to worship him" (sc. "and here we are"--but that's only understood, it's not in the Greek.)

Victor wrote:* "for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him."

You gotta be kidding. "are come" for plain common-or-garden down-to-earth ἤλθομεν?! (It would be fine for ἥκομεν, but that's not what we have.) That's truly horrendous.

Markos wrote:Indeed, the sense being:

ἰδόντες γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ, πάρεσμεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ.


You're telling Matthew what he ought to have written?! He could have written that if that's what he meant, but he didn't. Your semi-classicizing paraphrase represents what you would like the sense to be, not what it actually is. I can imagine him retorting ὃ γέγραφα γέγραφα.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby Victor » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:37 pm

It would not be worth the candle to attempt any committed or lengthy "resistance" against such evident determination not to be budged from the negligible piece of territory you stand upon. There are 65 indicative aorists in Matthew alone which are translated by both the AV and RV with English perfects. Of the 45 different mainstream English translations of the Bible or New Testament reproduced on the Bible Gateway website only one translates ἤλθομεν in Matthew 2, 2 with a simple past, and that is, predictably, Young's Literal Translation, a fact which in itself should indicate clearly enough the principle that is at stake here: namely the precedence which at all times idiom takes over literalness in any translation designed for publication and not merely as a didactic tool. In this light, your insistent appeal to what is "IN THE GREEK" is both unnecessary and irrelevant.
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Re: Help me in translating this Greek into English

Postby mwh » Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:02 am

I apologize for the caps, but I'm sorry my last post made no impression on you. I wholeheartedly agree that Greek tense usage and English tense usage do not exactly coincide, and of course that applies to the Greek aorist too, which, I again agree, is sometimes best translated by a perfect. In this particular sentence that does not seem to me justifiable, for the reasons I've given. I won't repeat myself. Of course I agree with your penultimate post that the seeing (eidomen) preceded the coming (hlthomen); Matthew's paratactic style doesn't explicitly say so, but the order in which he records the events indicates that, even if it weren't perfectly obvious both from the preceding narrative and from a real-life point of view. Where we part ways is over whether or not this (or any) pair of conjoined aorists can justifiably be translated differently from one another (you, with all significant published English translations) or would better be translated identically (me, on grounds you consider negligible).

Veni vidi vici, "I came, I saw, I have conquered"?

By all means have the last word. I'm out.
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