[sword-devel] Question about Strong Markup of Matthew 1:20

Greg Hellings greg.hellings at gmail.com
Tue Nov 29 06:59:34 MST 2005


I believe your problem can be resolved with a little expounding of Greek
grammar.  Both of the depictions are actually correct.  I would tend to lean
towards the markup you have from Sword as being "more" correct, but allow me
to explain it with the following:

The Greek, with the direct "interlinear" style translation under it reads:
      tauta      de   autou  enthumethentos
these things but     he      while thought

I don't usually work with Strongs, but if I can guess what Strongs is doing
here it comes down to this:
Word 1161 is the particle "de" which is loosely translated as "but" although
it simply means a continuation of the story, action or thought and is
equally well translated "and, so" etc.
Word 846 is probably actually "autou" - which in this case is the genitive
form of the pronoun "he."
Word 1760 is the genitive "enthumethentos" - the genitive participle of
"thought on."
Word 5023 is clearly the plural verb "tauta" which means "these" or "these

When the genitive pronoun is combined with the genitive participle (the
words "autou enthumethentos") the result is what is called, in Greek, the
"genitive absolute."  Normally when a noun appears in the genitive it
indicates possession of something, but when it is combined with a
participle, the result could mean almost anything.  Most translators would
understand the phrase to mean "while he was thinking" but genitive absolutes
have to be translated a bunch of different ways, all depending on the
context.  Sometimes it could equally well be "because" or "after" or
"before" or any other number of meanings.  The translator has to figure it
out from the context.  So, essentially, the word "while" does not, strictly
speaking, appear in this passage.  However, most of the time in your Bible
that you see the word "while" and sometimes even the word "because" and so
on, the Greek actually has this same exact construct.  So the word "while"
could be thought of as either part of the noun (word 846) or as part of the
verb (word 1760).  So both versions of the Strong's markup are technically
valid, but the one you get from Sword is more accurate.

Ideally, the word "while" would somehow be indicated as a supplied word in
the English translation, if the reader is supposed to be working from the
Greek.  Many older KJV bibles had this feature by means of italicizing
words.  However, for everyday readers, this results in less clarity because
they think that the italicized word has greater importance, whereas the
italics usually mean that the use of this word was *more* of an interpretive
decision than the words around it.  So you might say that the following is a
better parsing of the text:

1161 -> But, and, so
while -> understood from context, also valid as "because" or other possible
846 -> he
1760 -> thought on
5023 -> these things

Hope that helps more than it confuses.  If you really want to learn more,
get a good Greek grammar that will teach you something about the genitive
absolute construct.  Or, better yet, do that anyway and learn some Greek so
you can read the Bible in Greek... actually, I wouldn't recommend that
course of action; it takes too long and is usually too time consuming even
when have have learned Greek :).

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