Monday, May 13, 2024

Ἐξίσταντο: how do we get from 'I stand' to 'I am amazed'

ἐξίσταντο δὲ καὶ ἐθαύμαζον λέγοντες Οὐχὶ ἰδοὺ πάντες οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ λαλοῦντες Γαλιλαῖοι;

they were all amazed and wondered, asking"All of these people who are speaking are Galileans, aren't they?

Acts 2:7 begins with the verb form ξίσταντο, which is parsed as the 3-P imperfect middle/passive indicative of ἐξίστημι.

I say 'middle/passive' because the imperfect, as part of the present system, has identical forms in the middle and passive; but by sense, ἐξίσταντο is a middle.

Ἐξίστημι is a compound verb, formed from the prepositional prefix ἐκ- / ἐξ- ('from, out from') and the root verb ἵστημι.

Ἵστημι is a difficult verb, with a basic meanings of 'stand (something) up', and 'stand (yourself) up, be standing'.  It is used over 150 times in the New Testament, in a large variety of forms. 

Consider the following: 

(1)  καὶ ἔστησεν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ

and he set /  stood him on the pinnacle of the temple  (Matthew 4:5)

The form of ἵστημι here is ἔστησεν; an aorist active indicative.  It is transitive, meaning that the subject ('he' - the devil) performed an action ('set / stood') affecting someone or something else as a direct object ('him' - Jesus).

The direct object of a transitive verb is generally in the accusative case, as it is here: αὐτόν.

Now compare that use to this:

(2)  καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἑστὼς παρὰ τὴν λίμνην Γεννησαρέτ

and he (Jesus) was standing by the lake of Gennesaret   (Luke 5:1)

Here, ἑστὼς is a perfect active participle (masculine singular nominative) of ἵστημι. In the perfect this verb is intransitive and refers to a completed action with ongoing consequences; i.e., at some point Jesus stood up, and he is now standing. 

 * * * * * 

So what about ἐξίσταντο in Acts 2:7?  The usual translations for most of the seventeen uses of this verb in the New Testament are some version of 'to be amazed, to be astonished', etc.

How does 'amazed' relate to 'stand'?

The prefix ἐξ- seems to indicate that you are standing 'outside' of yourself in some way.  English has a similar idiom: 'I am beside myself'.  Although it doesn't correspond exactly to 'I am astonished', you get the basic idea, which also explains the middle voice.

Monday, May 06, 2024

Acts 2:7-8, by phrase, with a few comments on finding subjects

A crowd has just heard the disciples speaking in different dialects or languages.

7  Ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες . . . . They were amazed all

καὶ ἐθαύμαζον, . . . . and they marveled

λέγοντες πρὸς ἀλλήλους, . . . .  saying to each other

Οὐκ ἰδοὺ πάντες . . . .  look, not all  (word-by-word: not look all)

οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ λαλοῦντες . . . . these are the ones speaking

Γαλιλαῖοι; . . . . Galileans?

8  Καὶ πῶς ἡμεῖς ἀκούομεν ἕκαστος . . . and how we we hear each

τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλέκτῳ ἡμῶν . . . . in the same / our own dialect of us 

ἐν ᾗ ἐγεννήθημεν; . . . . in which we were born?

Stunned and amazed all, they asked, 

"All of these people who are speaking are Galileans, aren't they?

And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?

Let me emphasize: one key to reading the New Testament in koine Greek is to find the subject of each phrase.  To find the subject, we usually look for nouns, pronouns, substantive adjectives, etc., in the nominative case.

As an example, in verse 7 we start with a verb: Ἐξίσταντο, 'they were amazed'.

Who was amazed?  The closest nominative plural is πάντες  ('all'), followed eventually by the participle λέγοντες ('saying').  

So all the listeners were amazed and they were all saying (something).

But then we have another πάντες.  And another verb, εἰσιν, which is immediately followed by οἱ λαλοῦντες and Γαλιλαῖοι.

Πάντες, οἱ λαλοῦντες, and Γαλιλαῖοι are all in the nominative plural, and must be the subject of something, which is here clearly the verb εἰσιν.  So the preceding phrase,

"οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ λαλοῦντες" . . . . 'these are the ones speaking'

refers to the disciples, not the amazed listeners, with the disciples identified as Galileans.

In the next post, the verb form ἐξίσταντο.

New conjugation table available

I've been slow to add these, but there is a new conjugation table available: the present tense of the alpha-contract verb τιμάω.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Link for sound files

For those of you who are interested in the sound files from my New Testament Greek Workbooks, here is a general link:

You can scroll through to find all of the sound files currently available.

Note that all readings are done using a modern Greek pronunciation.