Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Are you learning Koine Greek, the Greek of the New Testament and most other post-classical Greek texts? Whatever your level, use this forum to discuss all things Koine, Biblical or otherwise, including grammar, textbook talk, difficult passages, and more.
Post Reply
shaunthesheep
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:13 am

Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by shaunthesheep » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:36 am

Hi I just wonder why in the new testament the king of kings is expressed in

"Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων" but not "Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλέων" ?

What is the difference here?

User avatar
seneca2008
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 533
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 1:48 pm
Location: Londinium

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by seneca2008 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:58 am

βασιλευόντων Is the gen plural present participle of βασιλεύω.

So, King of those ruling (as kings) or king of those who rule.

Is there a difference? I guess possibly the verb has a wider meaning but it seems unlikely in this context.

bpk
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:18 pm

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by bpk » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:19 am

One could see it as a slightly nuanced way of indicating the temporary nature of earthly kings. If one is merely "ruling" βασιλεύων, then they are temporary. However, if they are "king" βασιλεύς, it is a bit more connected to their nature as a person...perhaps?

There is a really nice statement at the end of the Martyrdom of Polycarp about this...for a little background, remember that years/dates are always given with respect to the current year of the reign of the current king:

Μαρτυρεῖ δὲ ὁ μακάριος Πολύκαρπος ⸀μηνὸς Ξανθικοῦ δευτέρᾳ ἱσταμένου, ⸀πρὸ ἑπτὰ καλανδῶν ⸀Μαρτίων, σαββάτῳ μεγάλῳ, ὥρᾳ ⸀ὀγδόῃ· ⸀συνελήφθη ὑπὸ Ἡρώδου ἐπὶ ἀρχιερέως Φιλίππου Τραλλιανοῦ, ἀνθυπατεύοντος Στατίου Κοδράτου, βασιλεύοντος δὲ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ⸀Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· ⸂ᾧ ἡ δόξα, τιμή, μεγαλωσύνη, θρόνος αἰώνιος ἀπὸ γενεᾶς εἰς γενεάν, ἀμήν⸃.

'And the blessed Polycarp was martyred on the second day of the first part of the month Xanthicus, seven days before the Kalends of March, on a great Sabbath, in the eighth hour. He was arrested by Herod during the reign of the high priest Philippus Trallianus, with Statius Quadratus acting as proconsul, but when Jesus Christ was reigning forever, to whom is the glory, honor, greatness, eternal throne from generation to generation, Amen.'

shaunthesheep
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:13 am

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by shaunthesheep » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:21 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:58 am
βασιλευόντων Is the gen plural present participle of βασιλεύω.

So, King of those ruling (as kings) or king of those who rule.

Is there a difference? I guess possibly the verb has a wider meaning but it seems unlikely in this context.
Thank you for your help!:)

shaunthesheep
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:13 am

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by shaunthesheep » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:24 pm

bpk wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:19 am
One could see it as a slightly nuanced way of indicating the temporary nature of earthly kings. If one is merely "ruling" βασιλεύων, then they are temporary. However, if they are "king" βασιλεύς, it is a bit more connected to their nature as a person...perhaps?

There is a really nice statement at the end of the Martyrdom of Polycarp about this...for a little background, remember that years/dates are always given with respect to the current year of the reign of the current king:

Μαρτυρεῖ δὲ ὁ μακάριος Πολύκαρπος ⸀μηνὸς Ξανθικοῦ δευτέρᾳ ἱσταμένου, ⸀πρὸ ἑπτὰ καλανδῶν ⸀Μαρτίων, σαββάτῳ μεγάλῳ, ὥρᾳ ⸀ὀγδόῃ· ⸀συνελήφθη ὑπὸ Ἡρώδου ἐπὶ ἀρχιερέως Φιλίππου Τραλλιανοῦ, ἀνθυπατεύοντος Στατίου Κοδράτου, βασιλεύοντος δὲ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ⸀Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· ⸂ᾧ ἡ δόξα, τιμή, μεγαλωσύνη, θρόνος αἰώνιος ἀπὸ γενεᾶς εἰς γενεάν, ἀμήν⸃.

'And the blessed Polycarp was martyred on the second day of the first part of the month Xanthicus, seven days before the Kalends of March, on a great Sabbath, in the eighth hour. He was arrested by Herod during the reign of the high priest Philippus Trallianus, with Statius Quadratus acting as proconsul, but when Jesus Christ was reigning forever, to whom is the glory, honor, greatness, eternal throne from generation to generation, Amen.'
Thank you for your help! Now I got the importance of ῥητορῐκός

mwh
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3086
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by mwh » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:48 pm

Μαρτυρεῖ δὲ ὁ μακάριος Πολύκαρπος doesn’t mean “Polycarp was martyred” but “Polycarp testifies.” The quote follows.

And βασιλεύοντος δὲ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ⸀Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is a genitive absolute, “in the everlasting reign of JC”, as in the regular bureaucratic dating formula ἀνθυπατεύοντος Στατίου Κοδράτου “in the proconsulship of Stat.Cod.” It looks like a later addition tacked on to the original data.

So it has no bearing on the Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων phrase. There were a number of local rulers but only one who is claimed to be king of them all. The grandiose idea originates in the Middle Eastern kingdoms of Assyria and Babylonia, with their ethos of domination, and will more immediately be based on the Hebrew scriptures. Check the Hebrew phrase, or the Septuagint.

User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
Posts: 2952
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by jeidsath » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:12 pm

It's the Persian title of the kings of the Achaemenid dynasty, following Cyrus the Great. Xšâyathiya Xšâyathiyânâm in old Persian, apparently. In the Old Testament, the title only appears in Ezra, referring to Artaxerxes. The Septuagint happens to translate this section of Ezra twice (1st Esdras and 2nd Esdras), where it has βασιλεὺς βασιλέων at 2Es 7:12, and more standard Greek appellation of the Persian King at the other translation of the same Hebrew, 1Es 8:9, simply Βασιλεὺς Ἀρταξέρξης. This verse may or may not have been in Pseudo Paul's mind at 1 Timothy 6:15.

Looking at the Old Persian grammar on Wikipedia, Xšâyathiyânâm looks like plural genitive form of Xšâyathiya, and not the participle.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

mwh
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3086
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by mwh » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:27 pm

It doesn’t have to be tied to Persian. βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων is an NT variation on the Septuagint’s βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλέων (Exekiel, also Daniel), reflective of Jesus’ non-secular status as king. There were a number of earthly rulers but the Christian claim is that the Christ is king of them all.

Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 837
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:37 pm

mwh wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:48 pm
Μαρτυρεῖ δὲ ὁ μακάριος Πολύκαρπος doesn’t mean “Polycarp was martyred” but “Polycarp testifies.” The quote follows.

And βασιλεύοντος δὲ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ⸀Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is a genitive absolute, “in the everlasting reign of JC”, as in the regular bureaucratic dating formula ἀνθυπατεύοντος Στατίου Κοδράτου “in the proconsulship of Stat.Cod.” It looks like a later addition tacked on to the original data.

So it has no bearing on the Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων phrase. There were a number of local rulers but only one who is claimed to be king of them all. The grandiose idea originates in the Middle Eastern kingdoms of Assyria and Babylonia, with their ethos of domination, and will more immediately be based on the Hebrew scriptures. Check the Hebrew phrase, or the Septuagint.
Persian and Babylonian provenance, to be a bit more exact. The actual phrase appears 3 times in the OT:

Ezra 7:12, מֶ֖לֶךְ מַלְכַיָּ֑א, (Aramaic), LXX βασιλεὺς βασιλέων

Ezekiel 26:76 מֶ֣לֶךְ מְלָכִ֑ים, LXX βασιλεὺς βασιλέων

Daniel 2:27, מֶ֖לֶךְ מַלְכַיָּ֑א, (Aramaic), LXX βασιλεὺς βασιλέων...

A similar concept is expressed in 2 kings 2:18, הַגָּד֖וֹל מֶ֥לֶךְ, τοῦ μεγάλου βασιλέως...

In the NT, Rev 17:14 and 19:16 use the LXX phrasing. 1 Tim 6:15 Uses the participle, βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων καὶ κύριος τῶν κυριευόντων. Using the substantive participle is simply a stylistic difference.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

mwh
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3086
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by mwh » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:45 pm

Barry, you missed my more recent post, supplementing the one you quote. The difference is more than stylistic.

User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
Posts: 2952
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by jeidsath » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:54 pm

Yes, it does seem to be its own OT usage, unrelated to the Persian. There seem to be a couple of related phrases "Lord of Lords" and the much more theologically interesting, "God of Gods"
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 837
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:22 pm

mwh wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:45 pm
Barry, you missed my more recent post, supplementing the one you quote. The difference is more than stylistic.
Yes, I was typing the other one (and doing other things) while you wrote so they crossed. I don't think that the LXX phrasing in Revelation implies anything less -- in other words, they are all saying that the Lord is king above all kings. The participle as usual expresses it in terms of the rulers actually ruling, but that is, as they say, a distinction without a difference.

Phil 2:9-11 expresses the concept without using the precise language. Joel mentioned "God of gods":

Deut 10:17, אֱלֹהֵ֣י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים וַאֲדֹנֵ֖י הָאֲדֹנִ֑ים, LXX θεὸς τῶν θεῶν καὶ κύριος τῶν κυρίων, inter al.

1 Tim 6:15 uses the participle again for the latter part, κύριος τῶν κυριευόντων. As above, I don't see this meaning more or less then the nominal phrase translating the Hebrew/Aramaic superlative expression.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
Posts: 2952
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by jeidsath » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:24 pm

Robert Alter (whose OT translation is now complete) gives the following for Deuteronomy 10:17 --
the God of gods and the Master of masters. Although both these epithets in all likelihood are linguistic fossils of an earlier view in which YHWH was conceived as the most powerful god, not the only one, the plausible sense here is a superlative (as in "the heavens of the heavens"), i.e., "supreme God and supreme Master."
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

mwh
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3086
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by mwh » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:10 pm

In the Hebrew Tanakh, in Ezekiel, I see that “king of kings” is simply the same word repeated (undeclined of course), differentiated from the king of Babylon, the greatest king of the time (Nebuchadnezzar, not a favorite of the Israelites!). “King king” certainly trumps “Babylon king.” It’s the same with the Torah’s God god and Lord lord (Elohim Elohim Adon Adon)—there were many gods but only one god god (an exceptionally jealous one). Only in Greek, and then Latin, do we get the genitive. (And I’m sorry Barry doesn’t see the significance of 1 Tim.’s variation. I did try to explain.)

User avatar
seneca2008
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 533
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 1:48 pm
Location: Londinium

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by seneca2008 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:18 pm

(a bit off topic) I have been fortunate enough to visit several times the British Museum’s excellent Ashurbanipal exhibition. He gave himself the almost cosmic title King of the world. That’s megalomania for you!

mwh
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3086
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by mwh » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:02 am

Sargon (father of Sennacherib) had done the same much earlier.

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; look on my works, ye mighty, and despair. But we do have some stupendous surviving works of Sargon.

Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 837
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:23 am

mwh wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:10 pm
In the Hebrew Tanakh, in Ezekiel, I see that “king of kings” is simply the same word repeated (undeclined of course), differentiated from the king of Babylon, the greatest king of the time (Nebuchadnezzar, not a favorite of the Israelites!). “King king” certainly trumps “Babylon king.” It’s the same with the Torah’s God god and Lord lord (Elohim Elohim Adon Adon)—there were many gods but only one god god (an exceptionally jealous one). Only in Greek, and then Latin, do we get the genitive. (And I’m sorry Barry doesn’t see the significance of 1 Tim.’s variation. I did try to explain.)
I see that you don't know Hebrew? In מֶ֣לֶךְ מְלָכִ֑ים, melek melekīm, מְלָכִ֑ים, melekīm, is in the construct relationship with מֶ֣לֶךְ, melek, expressing what in Greek and Latin would be the genitive relationship, in English with the preposition "of." Similarly with the other expressions you mention.

Your explanation didn't really explain anything:
MWH wrote:It doesn’t have to be tied to Persian. βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων is an NT variation on the Septuagint’s βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλέων (Exekiel, also Daniel), reflective of Jesus’ non-secular status as king. There were a number of earthly rulers but the Christian claim is that the Christ is king of them all.
For one thing, note that none of the LXX expressions use the article. Neither the Greek nor the Hebrew express any limited body of kings. The writer of Revelation follows the LXX formula exactly:

κύριος κυρίων ἐστὶν καὶ βασιλεὺς βασιλέων. Do you really think this means something different than what the writer of 1 Timothy means at 6:15?
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

bpk
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:18 pm

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by bpk » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:41 am

mwh wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:48 pm
Μαρτυρεῖ δὲ ὁ μακάριος Πολύκαρπος doesn’t mean “Polycarp was martyred” but “Polycarp testifies.” The quote follows.
That's an interesting take. Not to derail the thread (perhaps better to PM me the answer?), but where does the following quote of Polycarp begin? The rest of the text seems to refer to Polycarp only in the third person, so I'm not sure where the quote would be. By the context it seems more likely to me that the dating formula which corresponds to the date of his death (note earlier references in the work) would indicate that μαρτυρεῖ here is being used to indicate martyrdom.
mwh wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:48 pm
So it has no bearing on the Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων phrase. There were a number of local rulers but only one who is claimed to be king of them all. The grandiose idea originates in the Middle Eastern kingdoms of Assyria and Babylonia, with their ethos of domination, and will more immediately be based on the Hebrew scriptures. Check the Hebrew phrase, or the Septuagint.
Good point. I agree it has no grammatical bearing for understanding the other phrase, though it's a nice parallel to understand one aspect of the cultural/historical background behind the idea, namely, the eternal reign of Jesus being compared with the temporal reigns of earthly kings.

bpk
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:18 pm

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by bpk » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:58 am

It is worth noting that the Greek translators do not always replicate the grammar of the Hebrew in a "wooden" fashion when dealing with מלך (forms of the verb or the noun) and βασιλεύω. For example, the LXX translates the Hebrew dating formula into a formulation more consistent with the normal Greek dating formula (at least in some instances even though they are not strictly parallel grammatically). For example,

1 Kgs. 6.1:

לִמְלֹ֥ךְ שְׁלֹמֹ֖ה עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל

βασιλεύοντος τοῦ βασιλέως Σαλωμων ἐπὶ Ισραηλ

1 Kgs. 14.25:

בַּשָּׁנָ֥ה הַחֲמִישִׁ֖ית לַמֶּ֣לֶךְ רְחַבְעָ֑ם

ἐν τῷ ἐνιαυτῷ τῷ πέμπτῳ βασιλεύοντος Ροβοαμ



Also, in reference to an earlier comment by Barry ...
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:23 am
In מֶ֣לֶךְ מְלָכִ֑ים, melek melekīm, מְלָכִ֑ים, melekīm, is in the construct relationship with מֶ֣לֶךְ, melek, expressing what in Greek and Latin would be the genitive relationship, in English with the preposition "of." Similarly with the other expressions you mention.
I completely agree, though I would go a step further. It is not only "what in Greek and Latin would be the genitive relationship," but is in fact a genitive relationship in the Hebrew. The Semitic languages used to have case (nominative, genitive/oblique, and accusative), indicated by final vowels, and the final noun in a construct chain is in the genitive case (reconstructed early Hebrew):

*mVlak-ūm(a) halakū

'kings-MPL.NOM walked'

'The kings walked'

*mVlk-u malak-īm(a)

'king.MSG-NOM kings-MPL.OBL/GEN

'King of kings'

This is true for Akkadian, Arabic, Ugaritic, and was probably also the case in early Hebrew. So even though it is no longer indicated in the vocalisation, grammatically it may still be defined the same way.

mwh
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3086
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by mwh » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:10 pm

Thanks to Barry and bpk for setting me straight about the Hebrew.

shaunthesheep
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:13 am

Re: Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων;

Post by shaunthesheep » Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:22 am

Thank you all!

On your levels I am almost illiterate.

Post Reply