Blog #3: Psalm 22/23 in the Septuagint

Recently I had two of my longest-standing students over for the evening, to do some translation together. Having completed all of Balfour’s textbook several years ago, and spent twenty-four weeks going through his notes on Mark in Greek, we’ve met as a reading group ever since, working on much of the rest of Mark, as well as Philippians, parts of the Didache, Epictetus, and occasionally some Classical texts. This week we forayed into new territory and translated Psalm 23 from the Septuagint, the Koine Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (where Psalm 23 is actually Psalm 22). Since it was translated around the early second century BCE, this threw up an exciting opportunity to read some Koine Greek from a period much closer to Classical – much closer to when Alexander the Great declared that the world shall speak Attic Greek, and inaugurated the slow shift from Attic to Koine. A few noteworthy observations arose, so I thought I’d record them here. The first is a bit long and grammatical, so if you’re still just learning nouns feel free to skip the next paragraph.  Also, if you’d like to have a look at Psalm 22 in the Septuagint, you can find it here, with the parsing available if your browser window is stretched wide enough.  More details on the textbooks to which I refer in this post can be found in the ‘Resources’ section of this website.

Firstly, the most bizarre thing to come out of this is what happens with ‘aspect’ in the Septuagint’s translation of the Hebrew here (if indeed the Hebrew on which it was based was the same as the Masoretic Text received today). ‘Aspect’ refers to whether a verb is complete or ongoing. Ancient Greek uses the aorist ‘tense’ to denote completed action, and ‘tense’ is here in inverted commas because of the ongoing debate about the extent to which the aorist should even be called a tense at all, with some (notably Stanley Porter in his book Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood) arguing that even in the indicative mood, the aorist is about simple (completed) as opposed to continuous (ongoing) aspect, not about when the verb takes place. In essence, Porter is arguing that Greek is even more ‘aspectual’ (concerned with whether actions are complete or ongoing) than we had imagined, and less temporally concerned. This is interesting to note here because Ancient Hebrew is a much more aspectual language even than Ancient Greek, with only two ‘tenses,’ both of which are not tenses, but rather aspects (see Balfour’s Hebrew textbook, pp. 224-227 and 254-258). The perfect denotes a verb regarded by the speaker as complete (whether complete in the past, present or future), and the imperfect denotes a verb regarded by the speaker as ongoing (whether ongoing in the past, present or future). In order then to mark tense, Hebrew has some other tricks it sometimes uses to note when a verb (perfect or imperfect) took place in the past. What makes this interesting with respect to Psalm 22/23 in the Septuagint? Well, in the Hebrew it’s written in the imperfect (the ongoing/continuous aspect, as opposed to the complete/simple), but in the Greek it’s mostly written in the aorist. Taken on its own, without giving thought to the Hebrew, it’s actually a nice example of the where the aorist is probably entirely about aspect and not at all about tense: the author does sometimes use present or future verbs, but then mostly writes in the aorist, likely because he’s talking poetically about simple ways in which God relates to him, not talking historically about things God did. This would all make perfect sense if the Hebrew had been written in the perfect. But, as far as we know, it wasn’t (unless the Septuagint was translated from an older and now lost Hebrew text that used the perfect). The Hebrew was written in the imperfect, specifically noting God’s continuous way of relating to David, but the Septuagint translators used the aorist, specifically noting the ‘complete-in-nature’ actions through which God relates to David. My guess is that this happened because the aorist was the standard aspect in which Ancient Greek speakers thought and spoke, so it was translated that way even though the Hebrew is specifically in the continuous aspect. Whatever the reason, it does at least seem fair to say here that Psalm 22/23 is an example of the aorist indicative having nothing to do with time.

Secondly, when one of my students encountered the word βακτηρία, ‘rod,’ she of course wondered how this word came to be the English word ‘bacteria.’   The answer? βακτηρία, like the neuter βακτήριον, is actually a diminutive of βάκτρον, a staff. So it’s a little staff. Apparently bacteria (presumably from the plural of βακτήριον, not from the feminine) look like little staves. Isn’t that just lovely?

Thirdly, in the Septuagint verse six begins ‘Your mercy will follow me all the days of my life.’ If you have this psalm memorised, you might have just noticed a word missing. In this case, I strongly suspect that the older Hebrew from which it was translated just didn’t have a word for ‘goodness’ alongside mercy here.

Fourthly, in verse two, ‘on still waters’ is ἐπὶ ὕδατος ἀναπαύσεως.  According to Balfour’s textbook (p. 123), ἐπὶ followed by the genitive in New Testament Greek is a temporal genitive – it refers to an event happening during the time of the noun (or type of time of the noun) in the genitive case.  And indeed, this is the use of ἐπὶ + gen. I have most often seen in my reading of the New Testament.  Combined with one of the other two possible cases (accusative or dative), ἐπὶ has a sense of ‘on,’ being ‘extension on or onto’ with the accusative, or ‘location on’ with the dative.  However, in Shelmerdine’s Attic Greek textbook, we learn on p. 96 that ἐπὶ plus the genitive means ‘on.’  It would appear that the commonest meaning of ἐπὶ + gen. in the New Testament, as a temporal genitive (though it is occasionally used as ‘on’ in the New Testament, such as in Rev. 11:6), became standard after the translation of the Psalms into Greek.  This is a nice example of the Koine Greek of the Septuagint (or at least of the Psalms) being grammatically closer to Attic than to New Testament Greek.

Lastly, I just wouldn’t be doing the text justice if I didn’t point this out: although most translations of the Hebrew render it quite neutrally as ‘my cup is abundantly full,’ or something similar, the Greek here (καὶ τὸ ποτήριον σου μεθύσκον ὡς κράτιστον), as well as the Latin used in the Vulgate (et calix meus inebrians quam praeclarus est), makes it very clear that this cup isn’t just running over. It’s running over specifically to the point of the psalmist being absolutely trollied. As the Douay Rheims translation of the Vulgate puts it, ‘And my chalice which inebriateth me, how goodly is it!’  (Though why the chalice went from being God’s to David’s somewhere between the Greek and Latin I have no idea.)

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Handout #2: Rules and Memory Aids for Greek Pronouns

This handout is a list of everything to remember from lessons 11-14 of the New Testament Greek textbook (Balfour, A Step-by-Step Introduction to New Testament Greek).  Some of what follows might not make sense without having been through these lessons in the book.  This is intended as a revision tool, and to help when doing one’s exercises.  Also, because it is based on Balfour’s textbook, it does not make use of accents.

  1. ε → ο       a → i              ἐκεινος = ‘that’       οὑτος = ‘this’
  2. The demonstrative adjectives are always used with the definite article.
  3. The attributive and predicative positions are flipped for the demonstrative adjectives and ὁλος (‘whole’).
  4. If αὐτος does not use a definite article, then it is probably the third-person singular personal pronoun, ‘he’, ‘she’, or ‘it’ (depending on its gender and the noun it replaces).

4.1. It can be used when the subject of the verb was inferred within the verb itself, and sometimes this is for emphases. For example, in αὐτος λεγει, it might be used for emphasis.

  1. If αὐτος uses the definite article in the Predicative position, then it is the Emphasising Pronoun, ‘himself’, ‘herself’, or ‘itself’.

5.1. In this use, the third person pronoun is also used as first and second person pronouns. So ἐγω αὐτος λεγω must mean ‘I myself say’, because it mixes first and third person pronouns.

  1. If αὐτος uses the definite article in the Attributive position, then it is the Identical Adjective, ‘same’. So, ὁ αὐτος κυριος is ‘The same Lord’.
  2. The third person reflexive pronoun, ἑαυτον, covers first and second person in the plural. So ἀκουετε ἑαυτοις; means ‘Do you hear yourselves?’ (not ‘Do you hear themselves?’)

7.1. The first and second person singular reflexive pronouns simply take the prefix of the first and second person personal pronouns (ἐμ and σ) to become ἐμαυτον and σεαυτον.

  1. The Greek possessive pronoun (ἐμου/μου/σου/αὐτου, etc.) can be translated as a possessive pronoun or adjective in English (my, mine, of me, your, yours, his, of him, etc.), but it is never used for emphasis. The possessive adjective is always used for emphasis (imagine if in English we always put ‘my’ in italics).

8.1. If the possessive adjective is in the attributive position, translate it as a possessive adjective in English (‘her_______’). If it is not in the attributive position, translate it as a possessive pronoun in English (‘hers’).

  1. The relative pronoun takes the number and gender of its antecedent, but the case that is dictated by its context within the relative clause.

9.1. Sometimes NT authors do this incorrectly, and it takes the number, gender, and case of its antecedent.

  1. Note that the relative pronoun usually has a grave accent, and the definite article does not. Also, observe its rough breathing in order to distinguish the masculine and neuter singular genitives from the negativing particle, οὐ, and to distinguish the feminine singular accusative relative pronoun ἣν from the third person singular past tense for ‘to be’, ἠν.

Handout #1: A More Complete List of The Meanings of the Cases

This handout is intended for more advanced students, preferably after completion of the textbook.  Even this list of the possible uses of the cases is not exhaustive, but I have done my best to include every use of a case that is found somewhat frequently. Many of the uses below appear frequently enough in the New Testament to make it worthwhile knowing them, but much more frequently in Classical (or at least non-biblical) texts. I’ve also included a few verses one could translate to practice looking at texts where multiple possible translations of the cases could be defended. ‘The textbook’ referred to here is Glenn M. Balfour, A Step-by-Step Introduction to New Testament Greek, from which I teach my New Testament Greek classes.

 

  • Nominative (2 uses)
    • Subject. ‘The boy throws the ball.’
    • The Complement. ‘The word was God.’ When a noun is the ‘object’ (complement) of a verb of being or becoming (more precisely, an intransitive verb of incomplete predication), it is put in the nominative case, and, if it should have a definite article, its definite article is removed and it is placed immediately before the verb. See pages 45-47 of the textbook for more.
  • Vocative (1 use)
    • ‘Oi, boy! Throw the ball!’ Or, ‘O Lord, thou art merciful.’ In Classical Greek the vocative is always used with ὦ preceding it (and in the New Testament only sometimes), which could be translated as ‘O’ in English (as above); but since it is normal in English to get someone’s attention using just there name, it is usually best to leave ὦ un-translated.
  • Accusative (7 uses)
    • Direct Object. ‘The boy throws the ball.’ The direct object of the verb.
    • Double Accusative: sometimes the accusative case can be used for both the direct object and remoter object, which happens with some specific verbs (‘I ask the boy for the ball,’), and the remoter object will often seem like it could just as well be the dative. This is because the verb itself requires two objects (in this example, the person asked, and the object for which that person asks).
    • The Accusative used Predicatively: The accusative can be used to predicate another noun, to tell you more about it. This usually looks a bit like a double accusative, but one noun is giving you information about the other. I have seen this a lot more in Classical Greek texts, but it does happen occasionally in the New Testament. Gal. 2:18 or Acts 13:5. ‘They also had John – an assistant.’
    • Accusative of Content: Sometimes the accusative can be used to tell you the content of a verb – particularly when that content is already implied within the verb. 1 Pet. 3:14, ‘do not be afraid with fear of them.’ Often in English we use ‘with’ for the accusative of content.
    • Accusative of Respect: denoting that in respect of which some statement is made. Hebrews 2:17, ‘a faithful high priest in respect of things pertaining to God.’ We learned this as saying that the infinitive takes an accusative subject, but this is actually what is happening. So for an infinitive it takes an accusative subject because the subject of an infinitive is only that with respect to which the infinitive verb happens: ‘It is lawful for us to eat.’ In this sentence, ‘us’ (accusative in English as well!) is not the subject of the verb, because there is no verb actually happening. Rather, it is just the noun with respect to which this infinitive, infinite, verb is discussed.
    • The Accusative in Apposition: The accusative can be used to put a phrase in apposition to a complete sentence. For example, ‘a thing impossible for the law [to do],’ in Rom. 8:3.
    • Accusative as Extension of Time: ‘for an hour.’ See page 123 of the textbook.
  • Genitive (11 uses)
    • ‘Of’ – Genitive of Definition: This is the most typical use of the genitive, and is just used to tell you something about another noun, almost like an adjective. So, if I said ‘the love of God,’ I am describing the type of love to which I refer: not the love that happens between humans, but the type of love that is God’s. This is not the possessive genitive, which describes love that is God’s possession, but rather the genitive of definition tells you the type (Latin: genus) of love.
    • ‘Of’ – Possessive Genitive: Though technically less common, understanding most genitives this way will usually get you close to the mark, even though the previous one is the default. But you can think of God’s love as being the love that belongs to God, and that’s usually close to the same thing. The possessive genitive really only applies to when something is actually being possessed, such as ‘the boy’s
    • ‘Of’ – Subjective Genitive: One could also understand ‘the love of God’ as God’s act of loving, the love that is a verb with God as its subject. This is not too dissimilar to the genitive of definition, but sometimes is helpful to understand, in order to distinguish from the next item on our list.
    • ‘Of’- Objective Genitive: Just as easily, ‘the love of God’ could be love that is for God, with God as its object – as in ‘for the love of money!’ So while these first three types of genitive can be quite similar, this one is the opposite. All of them can be understood simply as ‘of,’ once we realise that this English word can do a lot as well!
    • Genitive of Time, Place, Quantity or Price: the genitive can also do all of these things. We covered the genitive of time in the textbook (page 123): ‘during the day.’ Then, the genitive of place: very rarely (and mostly in Luke-Acts), it can be used for a place, like in Acts 19:4, ‘he was about to go through by that way [ἐκείνης].’ Of quantity: tells you how much something happened for. 1 Cor. 6:20, ‘you were bought for a price.’ This is similar to another genitive, the genitive of price, in which the actual price of something is put in the genitive.
    • Genitive of Separation: the genitive as it has taken over from the ablative (which does still exist in the NT but very rarely). When one thing is separated from ano Can be used together with verbs for hindering from, hiding from, keeping from, etc. Eph. 2:12: ‘being estranged from the citizenship of Israel.’ Martin Luther’s now mostly abandoned reading of δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ (Rom. 1:17 and elsewhere) was as a genitive of separation (or ‘ablative genitive’).
    • Genitive of Comparison: the thing being compared with goes in the genitive. 1 Cor. 14:18, I speak with tongues ‘more than you all.’ Pages 248-249.
    • Genitive Absolute: The case used for a ‘separate clause’ in Greek. A separate clause is a clause in which a participle is used to describe a verb in the main sentence, but the subject of that participle does not appear in the main sentence. So, for example, ‘after the demon was cast out the poor man spoke.’ The entire clause, including the participle, is put in the genitive case. So in Greek a separate clause is a genitive absolute.
    • Exercise: Rom. 3:21-22a.
  • Dative (4 uses)
    • Indirect object: To or for. Page 35 in the textbook. This is the most common use of the dative case.
    • Locative: When an object is located in or on another object. Can be either metaphorical or physical: Rom. 14:1 refers to one who is ‘weak in faith.’ Page 122 in the textbook.
    • Instrumental: By or with, specifically when referring to the instrument of an action (a thing, not a person). Rom. 8:13, ‘by the spirit.’ Page 122 in the textbook.
    • Temporal: at a specific point in time. Page 123 in the textbook.
    • Others: there are many more uses of the dative that occur very infrequently, and some of these explain why we have so many verbs that take a dative ‘object.’ Often it’s very slippery and you just have to try to translate with to/for, and if not then with the other three main possibilities, and if not then just rely on context to work it out.
    • With: The dative case is used following the preposition σύν, ‘with,’ but sometimes is used in this way on its own, without the preposition. Another way that the dative could be translated as ‘with’ is when it is used instrumentally, as noted as above: to be hit ‘with a hammer.’
    • Exercises: Rom. 8:28 and Gal. 5:5.

 


This list was compiled from Glenn M. Balfour, A Step-by-Step Introduction to New Testament Greek (Mattersey: Mattersey Hall Publications, 2005) and C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek (London: Cambridge University Press, 1959).

Blog #2: Some Very Fascinating Things I’ve Learned

My website informs me that it has existed for about six months now.  While I haven’t really stopped teaching Greek in the last decade, over the past six months I’ve given a more concerted effort to finding new students, and expanding my teaching range as well.  I now have one student learning Attic (Classical) Greek with me, another student who is only ten years old, and have started doing advanced-level tutorials with a group who have already been through six semesters with me.  Thanks to my many wonderful students, I am also learning a lot of new things.  For my second blog on this website, here’s a smattering of new things I’ve learned.  Some of them might be interesting, and all of them run the risk of only really being interesting to me.

  1.  The Greek definite article (‘the’) is a fascinating little word (or, in Greek, twenty-four words!).  It accomplishes much more than its English counterpart, being additionally used preceding proper nouns (names), abstract nouns (concepts), and in difficult pieces of grammar like the rule of the complement (pp. 45-47 of Balfour) and the attributive and predicative positions (first introduced on p. 75).  In my experience, every Greek textbook has a different way of describing the definite article, and teaches a different range of its functions.  I’ve even sat in a New Testament Greek class (at a university in Ontario, Canada, sometime around 2010), where instead of being taught as the definite article, it was taught as a ‘structuring word’!  Outrageous, I know, but one can see why –  since the word does so much more than merely describe whether a noun is definite or indefinite.  Anyway, a particular aspect of the definite article that is not taught specifically in Balfour’s textbook leapt up at me while teaching Classical Greek.  In Balfour, we are taught that with words like ἴδιος (adj., ‘one’s own’), one must substitute the definite article article with the relevant possessive adjective, so that ὁ ἴδιος λόγος becomes, for example, ‘his own word’ (p. 83).  As will shortly become relevant, it is then never explained why, in exercise 18.a.1, from Phil 1:7, διὰ τὸ ἔχειν με ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμᾶς is translated as ‘because you continually have me in your hearts’ (italics added).  The two pronouns are the subject and object of ἔχειν (being infinitive, it has an accusative subject, or ‘accusative of respect’).  On top of them, where did this possessive adjective ‘your’ come from?  The answer to this question is the reason there is actually nothing special about the word ἴδιος.  If you know French, consider the phrase j’ai mal à la tête.  It is not generally translated into English as ‘I have pain in the head,’ but ‘I have pain in my head,’ or, ‘My head hurts’ (or, more closely to the French, ‘I have a headache’).  Something somewhat similar happens with je me brosse les dents, ‘I’m brushing my teeth.’  In these examples, the definite article serves the purpose of making an object more definite, and sometimes in English we do this with a possessive adjective (‘my,’ ‘your,’ etc) instead.  The very same thing happens in going from Greek to English: a definite article, making a noun more ‘definite,’ is often best translated into English as a possessive.  While Balfour does not teach this (and that’s fine – every textbook teaches some things definitively and leaves you to feel your way around other things), in teaching Classical Greek from C. W. Shelmerdine’s Introduction to Greek: Second Edition, I encountered on p. 21 a list of uses of the definite article in Ancient Greek that are different from in English (much like the list on pp. 44-45 of Balfour).  And there it was: ‘…In place of a possessive adjective, when the context makes it clear who the possessor is.  ἄγει τὴν στρατιάν.  He leads his army.’  And, additionally, with nouns denoting a class or type in general; with abstract nouns, especially when the subject of the sentence; and with proper nouns, especially after the first time the person or place is mentioned (italics added here to highlight that which is not stated in Balfour – and is potentially not so much the case in New Testament times).  So this special aspect to how ἴδιος is used, and this unexplained issue in translating Phil 1:7, is actually just part of how one should translate the definite article.  Sometimes, due to the way English works, definite articles in other languages should be translated as possessive adjectives in English.
  2. Much more simply, something else fascinating came out of teaching Classical Greek.  Apparently the word θεραπεύω meant ‘I honour/worship’ in Attic Greek.  In the New Testament, it’s almost always best translated as ‘I heal.’  I’m sure some cleric somewhere has preached an entire sermon reading into this fact far more than it deserves.  As I often try to bring out in my lessons, etymology is usually a less useful tool than preachers (or, for that matter, the 20th c. German theologians behind the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament) tend to think it is.  ‘Understanding’ something has little to do with being on one’s feet beneath it, and ‘repentance’ isn’t necessarily a chiefly cognitive transformation just because you’ve used your nous in translating it.  Be careful with reading too much into etymology, and do the hard work involved in reading into the grammar instead!
  3. My third little tidbit here comes from teaching my more advanced students.  Having gone the whole way through Balfour’s textbook, and through twenty-four weeks of Balfour’s Mark in Greek notes, and functioned for a year as a reading group slowly working their way through Mark, they’re far more advanced than they think they are (Ancient Greek does always take years to feel like you know it, even when you’re managing to handle quite advanced grammatical constructions).  In Balfour’s textbook, and most other Greek textbooks, you begin with a handful of quite simple definitions of the cases (nominative: subject; accusative: object; genitive: ‘of;’ dative: ‘to/for’), and eventually (Lesson 15 in Balfour) you discover that the cases actually have several more meanings.  In an advanced tutorial, I posited that there are four different ‘levels’ to understanding the cases: you start out with quite simple definitions; and then eventually learn that there are a handful of different ways each one is often used; then there’s a third stage when you realise there are about a dozen different common uses for three of the cases (accusative, genitive, dative); and then a fourth expert-level stage when one might actually memorise the much larger number of very obscure uses of the cases, which occur so infrequently that they possibly aren’t even worth memorising.  Balfour’s textbook leaves you somewhere just beyond the second stage, and I was attempting to bring my advanced students into the third stage, outlining more uses of each case, including ten different uses of the genitive.  I’ll post this handout shortly.  The case I wanted to make here (har har har), is that reading about these wider uses of the cases actually helped me to make more sense of some Classical Greek texts.  I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the past few years translating sections of Classical texts like Sophocles’ Antigone, Plato, Aristotle or the Koinê texts of the philosopher Epictetus.  Quite often in these texts I found myself struggling to make sense of their uses of the accusative case in particular.  For example, in Antigone (line 922), we read τί χρή με τὴν δύστηνον ἐς θεοὺς ἔτι βλέπειν;  Leaving out the accusative phrase in the middle, this translates ‘What need [is there] for me to look yet to the gods?’  This is fine as a sentence on its own, so what is τὴν δύστηνον, ‘the unhappy/miserable [one]’ (accusative) doing there?  Working just from knowledge of Balfour’s textbook, my only choice was to read this an extension of the accusative of respect of με, which sort of worked: ‘I, the miserable.’  But after using C.F.D. Moule’s An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek (which is written from a wealth of knowledge of Classical Greek surpassing that held by most NT Greek scholars), to craft the tutorial on wider uses of the cases, two of them in particular helped uses of the accusative such as above, from non-biblical texts, to make much more sense.  Here we have not just the accusative of respect (which it turns out is used more widely than just with infinitive clauses), but also the accusative used predicatively (as in Gal 2:18, ‘I constitute myself a transgressor‘) and the accusative of content (as in 1 Pet 3:14, ‘Do not be afraid with fear‘).  These additional uses of the accusative suddenly make sense of this line from Antigone, and many other ones like it in non-biblical texts: ‘What need is there for me to look yet to the gods in my misery?’  Or, if it’s an accusative used predicatively, ‘…to look yet to the gods as a miserable person?’

These observations have all turned out to be wordier than I intended, so I’ll leave it there for now.  I’ll go and post the handout I made for additional uses of the cases, in case you’re interested (I’m sorry, that’s the last ‘case’ pun I promise).  And then I’ll need to pack in the Greek blogging for the night.  Heavy caseload at work tomorrow.  (Sorry.)

Blog #1: The Thing From No Thing

For lack of better things to form my first blog, I’ll tell you one of my pet etymological theories.  It regards the English word ‘thing.’

The word ‘thing’ obviously comes from the Germanic root of the word Ding.  According to wiktionary.org, Ding comes from the theoretical proto-Germanic word þingą (thinga), an assembly or ‘matter to discuss.’  The fact that the verb of this, for ‘to hold a meeting’ or ‘discuss’ is *þingōną (thingona) adds to the weight of my suspicion that this word is related to, if not directly derived from, the Greek word θιγγάνω (thingano).  θιγγάνω means ‘I take hold of’ or ‘I grasp,’ so it seems possible that it made its way into an old Germanic language when a tribal assembly was seen as a time to ‘take hold of’ discussed issues.  In a similar way, the English word ‘theory’ is derived from the Greek θεωρία (theoria), a way of seeing things, related to the verb θεωρέω (theoreo), ‘I see.’  In both cases a verb has become a noun about an occasion when that verb happens (a ‘time for taking hold of things,’ or a ‘way of seeing things’).  Of course, in both cases it’s a bit more complicated than that, but this will do for now.

The reason I find this interesting is because in Greek, most of the time when one sees an English translation of the word ‘thing’ it is not actually a translation of any specific Greek word for ‘thing.’  That’s right: most of the time, Greek has no word for ‘thing.’  Instead, Greek simply uses the word ‘the’ with nothing after it, meaning ‘the thing.’  If you take my Greek lessons, you’ll find out why this makes sense!

So, the English word for ‘thing’ is (possibly) ultimately derived from the Greek, even though Greek has no word for ‘thing’!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this has much as I have.