Money, money, money

This has been a crazy spring and summer — I’m involved in two book projects and I’m still working part time as a dean dealing with student issues. And the dog, sweetheart that she is, still takes up almost two hours of walking time a day. So I haven’t had a lot of time to devote to the blog at just the point I wanted to delve into some more complex matters.

For some time now I’ve been meaning to post on the commercial transaction frame in Koine. Sorry for the jargon laden announcement, but it’s worth talking about what a frame is and why it’s important for translation. And, because the language of money and commerce is all over in the Scripture, with both literal and figurative uses, it makes sense to use the frame(s) evoked by money as a place to learn about frames.

Let’s start by talking a little about money. First and foremost, the Scripture talks about money a lot. Go to Strong’s and you’ll find over 130 references to the word money and that doesn’t count the dozens upon dozens of references to buying, selling, spending, saving, borrowing, lending, interest, credit, and debt that don’t even mention money explicitly.

God has a lot more to say about money and how it should be used than you’d think by listening to preachers in the contemporary church — but that’s not for this blog.

The question of importance here is: how did I get to connect money to buy, sell, spend, save, borrow, lend, etc.? The answer is: when one uses a word, the thing that word refers to occurs in particular real world contexts. So the fact that money is spent or saved, borrowed or lent, is used in buying, selling, and so on, has a linguistic reflection. Say the word money, and people are primed to think about the things you do with money. Say save after you’ve said money and people will think about refraining from spending and not rescuing from danger.

This connection of ideas is called a frame. Frames arise from our experiences in the real world. It’s easiest to think of them as scenarios. Say restaurant and you can talk about waiters and tables and menus without further explanation. Say bus and you can talk about drivers and fares and routes without explanation.

When we talk about differences between Biblical times and modern times, it’s the frames that are most relevant. That was my point about chairs in my first post to this blog.

So now that we understand the basic concept of a frame, I have to remind you that most frames are pretty abstract. When I said restaurant and bus and started talking about the respective frames, I suspect many of you visualized a restaurant and a bus of some sort. This is what Plato was reaching for when he talked about idealized entities. But those entities aren’t really idealized, rather they are an abstraction from our experiences, real or vicarious. And in the case of restaurants and buses, the frames don’t just paint static scenes. Things happen in restaurants and in buses, so these particular frames include scripts.

A man walks into a restaurant, is shown to a table, is handed a menu, orders a meal. The meal is brought to his table, he eats it. He is offered some coffee and/or desert, and if he orders some it is brought to him. He consumes it. He is given a bill. He pays and leaves.

Notice the key parts of this script. Order, be served, consume. In the particular instantiation I just outlined that happens twice. This is what I mean about frames being abstract. There are several simplex frame scripts combined here. The twice repeated ordering script is embedding in a more encompassing script in which the man enters a place of business, partakes of the service offered, pays for the service, and leaves. Notice that description also covers what happens in a taxi. Enter, partake of the service, i.e., be transported, pay, leave. In a bus the order is different. Enter, pay, partake of the service (be transported), leave. What is in common among all these is that each involves a commercial transaction. One is buying a service. The internal order is irrelevant. Service rendered, payment rendered counts the same as payment rendered, service rendered. As in buying a commodity, money is exchanged for something, in this case a service. That’s what the basic commercial transaction frame is. One entity gives another money in consideration of a product or service. (Gold stars to anyone who recognizes that this applies to bribery and blackmail, too.) If you’re interested there’s a nice little pdf of an article on the basic commercial transaction frame here.

Pike talked about frames and scripts (in other words, to be sure) in his massive tome Language In Relation To A Unified Theory Of Structure Of Human Behavior, describing breakfast in the Pike household. The linguistic world at the time didn’t have a clue what he was getting at. Fifty some odd years later we’re just catching up.

So now we’re ready to talk about commercial transactions in Koine. It starts with money. In Roman times people thought about money somewhat differently from the way we do. The idea of a check or a bank transfer would have been mystifying to a first century person.

Money was concrete.

Accounts were just inventories of physical money. If you owed a hundred denarii, you had to hand over a hundred actual denarii. When Rome got really rich, they had to mint the money to keep up, which means that by the end of the Empire there was a LOT of physical money around. Archeologists are digging up Roman (and Greek) coins all the time. There are so many that you can purchase actual Roman coins today for a few dollars. Museum quality coins are more expensive, but they’re out there — and most are not valued in 5 or 6 figures.

My point is that people in the Roman era thought of money as physical stuff. So there is no proper word for money. Instead money is most often called ἀργύριον properly ‘silver piece’. This is a case of one kind of common metaphor:

The best example of a type stands for the type.

That’s the linguistic logic that turns Kleenex and Scotch Tape (both brand names) into kleenex (= facial tissue) and scotch tape (= cellophane tape), and — feminists should probably cover their eyes at this point — that is responsible for turning proto-Germanic *man ‘person’ into English man ‘adult male human’. (And why ἀνήρ can be used to mean ‘human’, as discussed before in this blog here.)

By the way, this kind of metaphor confuses the heck out of literalists.

Anyway, the most basic things you can do with ἀργύριον are: buy and sell.

buy — ἀγοράζω

sell — πωλέω

Look in the dictionary and that’s what you’ll find. But we’re interested in the whole frame, so here’s how the different players and props are expressed.

ἀγοράζω πωλέω
person relinquishing the money subject (τίς) indirect object (τινί)
person providing the goods παρά τινος subject (τίς)
the goods object (τί) object (τί)
the price τιμῆς /genitive of money word τιμῆς /genitive of money word

There are other wrinkles. For example, the classical word for ‘buy’ was ὠνέομαι, but by the time of the LXX, ἀγοράζω had become the normal word. Nonetheless, Luke knew the old word and used it in Acts 7:16.

καὶ ἐτέθησαν ἐν τῷ μνήματι ᾧ ὠνήσατο Ἀβραὰμ τιμῆς ἀργυρίου παρὰ τῶν υἱῶν Ἑμμὼρ ἐν Συχέμ.

and [their bones] were laid in the tomb that Abraham bought from Hamor in Shechem for a large sum of money.

Notice the παρὰ phrase for the sellers (παρὰ τῶν υἱῶν Ἑμμὼρ) and the genitive of price (τιμῆς ἀργυρίου), which brings up an important point. The word τιμή ‘honor; value, worth, price’ isn’t well understood by the lexicographers. They fail to recognize that it belongs to a class of words like smell in English and schmecken in German. These words don’t mean just ‘smell’ and ‘taste’. Unmodified they mean ‘smell bad’ and ‘taste good’.

It smells. = ‘It smells bad.’

Das schmeckt. = ‘It tastes good.’

Linguists say such words bear defeasible presuppositions. That is, such words imply a particular characteristic in their referent, but that characteristic can be overridden by an explicit modifier.

It smells good.

Das schmeckt faul. ‘It tastes rotten.’

So τιμή really means ‘honor; (high) value, (high) price’, hence the translation for Acts 7:16 I snuck by you, ‘for a large sum of money’.

So where in Scripture would knowing this make any difference in translation? Well, how about I Cor. 6:20a.

ἠγοράσθητε γὰρ τιμῆς

For you were bought at a price. [NIV]

For ye are bought with a price [KJV]

for you were bought with a price [ESV]

for you were bought at a price [HSCB]

For you were bought with a price! [The Source]

Nobody talks like that.

?*This Ming vase was bought for a price.

In fact, even if you make the adjustment for the implication, it’s awkward to say it in the passive. It doesn’t sound natural.

This Ming vase was bought for a high price.

To say it naturally you have to say something like:

This Ming vase cost a lot.

This Ming vase didn’t come cheap.

Because I Cor. 6:20 is figurative language, not about literal money, I’d be hesitant to head in too colloquial a direction.

You are not your own. You cost God a lot. So honor Him in what you do with your body.

So once again — as I keep pointing out — the CEV beats the rest for translational accuracy and they got the style question right, too — that you can’t do it in the passive.

You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God. [CEV]

More on the commercial transaction frame in future posts, including how you get from buy to cost or pay in the CEV translation.

31 Comments

  1. Posted August 6, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    These frames and scripts are very useful for language learning as well.

    Francois Gouin, the 19th century Latin teacher who discovered that Latinists didn’t know squat about real language teaching, developed the immersion ‘direct method’ around 60-90 basic frames. Used orally and rapidly, of course.

    Randall Buth
    http://www.biblicalulpan.org

  2. Charles Clayton
    Posted August 6, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    The link to your first post became truncated. It is actually

    http://betterbibles.com/2006/03/13/further-thoughts-on-interpretation-versus-translation/

    I enjoyed rereading that article as well as this one. Very informative.

    Thanks

  3. Posted August 6, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Charles, thanks for your help with the link. It is fixed in the post now.

  4. Posted August 6, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff!

    Just a quibble (since some of us must always examine the teeth of horses even those received gratis), the CEV translation of the phrase you are most interested in “God paid a great price for you.” does not work for me. Here if a purchaser gets a “great price” it means they buy the object cheaply. Maybe you don’t have the same usage?

  5. Posted August 6, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    For ye are bought with a price [KJV] …

    Nobody talks like that.

    ?*This Ming vase was bought for a price.

    Actually, I read and hear this idiom all the time, almost always referring to non-tangible things that one would not think are for sale: e.g., “the peace was bought at a price” (that phrase, for example, gets numerous hits from Google — even a headline from a Time article in 1948: “The peace, as usual, was bought at a price.”)

    I’m not sure if the origin of this English idiom is Biblical or if it had an independent origin, but it is certainly comprehensible and natural to me as a native speaker.

  6. Rich Rhodes
    Posted August 6, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    @Tim

    Good point. I do have that usage. So I guess it would, in fact, be better to say:

    You are no longer your own. God paid a high price for you. So use your body to honor God. [CEV modified]

    There’s not only activation — the thing I talked about as “priming”. There’s also surpression. It’s not just that it’s easier to link save to the meaning ‘refrain from spending’ once you’ve started talking about money. It’s actually harder to retrieve the meaning ‘rescue’.

    In this case, once I locked in on great as ‘big’, I couldn’t easily get back to the meaning ‘very good’.

    Thanks for pointing this out.

  7. Mike Sangrey
    Posted August 6, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    I just asked my wife a question. This is what I said:

    “I have a question for you.” [pause] (She was a bit busy with something, so I waited). “You’re going to have to think about it,” I said. She replied, “Don’t I normally think?” [and smiled]. “Yeah,” I said, “If you went somewhere and bought something for a price, what would you mean by that?”

    She then stopped what she was doing and looked over at me…thoughtful.

    She then said, “I wouldn’t say it like that. I’d use an adjective. ‘I bought it at a good price, or an expensive price.'”

    She then went back to what she was doing.

    I think of this as lexical colocation and not so much as framing, but I thought it apropos, anyway. And obviously there is a relationship between lexical colocation and framing.

    From a translation perspective, what I find so very interesting about framing is that different languages compose their frames differently. The frames are not vastly different, but still different. Just like Rich mentions that to the the 1st century people, money was concrete.

    This compositional difference hasn’t been scientifically explored in translation, at least not that I know of. Though the CEV does explore the potential in somewhat haphazard ways. If we want people to be able to comprehend the text without disengaging from the text and analyzing it, we need to explore framing.

    Lastly, “you cost God a lot” is not too colloquial for me. “You cost God a heap” would be. The former is personal.

  8. Tony Pope
    Posted August 6, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Interesting topic. But I just wonder what is the evidence that τιμή by default implies *high* price. As you are probably aware, there is a competing interpretation of the word in 1 Cor. 6.20, that it means the price was really paid, and so the transaction was completed and ownership transferred. Alford takes it this way, and so does Barrett. Also Spicq (Theological Lexicon of the NT, 1:26) points out that contracts in inscriptions and papyri regularly mention the handing over of the τιμή as a prerequisite of ownership. He offers the translation “you have been bought and paid for”. It strikes me this does fit the context, both in 1 Cor. and in Acts 7.16 where the issue (at least in the case of Abraham’s purchase) was an indisputable right to the land (Gen. 23.20).

  9. J. K. Gayle
    Posted August 6, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    “Because I Cor. 6:20 is figurative language, not about literal money, I’d be hesitant to head in too colloquial a direction.— the CEV beats the rest for translational accuracy and they got the style question right, too — that you can’t do in the passive.”

    Why, Rich, do you first knock feminists (whom you essentialize) and then nods (broad-stroke nods) to Ken Pike’s notion of “frame” and to Plato’s notion of the ideal to set up your conclusion? The real problematic issue, seems to me, is with your premises. Why won’t you allow Paul writing in Greek to Greeks and Hellenized Jews the possibility of playing with language in uncommon ways? Doesn’t his contemporary Peter acknowledge to the 12 tribes in the Diaspora how difficult Paul is to read? George Steiner and C S Lewis both also say how unconventional Paul’s Greek is. But, likewise, why not allow English translators of Paul’s difficult Greek use a style different from that of the CEV translation team’s target audience? I think if Paul were able bilingually to write in English what he wrote in Greek, he might even try out the passive. He might want Mike’s wife to say out loud that she doesn’t talk that way. How do you figure you’ve framed Paul’s style by somehow idealizing his intended meaning and then best conveying this difficult uncommon style with simple CEV English?

  10. Posted August 6, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post, Rich. I actually didn’t run across any jargon, just a specialized use of frame. I guess it’s only jargon to the uninitiated; for instance, no one apologises for using jargon when they mention making a “web post,” although these words are so far removed from their base meaning that no one would even come close in guessing their meaning were they outside the specialized field of linked computer user.

    Nevertheless, I have some quibbles with your post, the expression of which I trust will increase understanding of this topic.

    1. You wrote, “That’s the linguistic logic . . . responsible for turning proto-Germanic *man ‘person’ into English man ‘adult male human’.”
    Except that the direction of change in this particular example is opposite to that in the other three. “And why ἀνήρ can be used to mean ‘human’,” isn’t. In fact, this very comparison is, in my view, one of the strongest arguments that ἀνήρ can be used to mean ‘human’. And I, a literalist.

    2, 3. You wrote, “Nonetheless, Luke knew the old word and used it in Acts 7:16.”

    Alas, Luke (using the identity of the scribe rather than the speaker) was stuck with a centuries-old translation of the Torah. Had he been as concerned about modern language translations as we are, he would have used ἀγοράζω.

    Or would he? Perhaps Luke intentionally used an archaic word precisely because the thing that it described was itself archaic.

    Consider this: Luke was farther removed from Abraham’s commercial transaction than we are from his account of it. And, if we can glean any information ourselves from this remote distance, the sort of transaction that Abraham and (interesting case of parablepsis, by the by: you left out τῶν υἱῶν in your commentary, even though it was present in your lemma) Emmor was unlike any we read about in the New Testament, but a lot more like what you are likely to find in a tribal context than any we are familiar with in Western culture. There was a lot of dancing around the point–so much so, that ὠνήσατο doesn’t even occur in the text. No, it was more like what happens when I visit my dairyman neighbor. He doesn’t SELL me raw milk–that would be illegal. Nor do I exactly STEAL it from him. No, I just TAKE it, and to compensate him for his loss, I leave a fiver on the shelf on my way out. So, Emmor GAVE Abraham the field–far be it from him to demand PAYMENT. But Abraham wasn’t about to just TAKE the field without some compensation–so he GAVE Emmor enough silver to even out the scales at four hundred shekels. Coincidently enough, this was the very amount Emmor had casually mentioned the field was worth.

    Did I say “field?” Pardon me, in the transactional frame of Abram’s day, one did not just value a field, but the trees thereof, and the cave. Abraham “paid” for all three. Likewise, real estate agents add the value of both the “improvements,” and the connection to utility services, when assessing a residential property. Well was I aware of this transactional frame when each month I had to make accounts with the owner of my mobile home, the owner of the land on which it sat, and the owner of the networks of pipes which watered and drained it.

    And this brings us to our fourth and final point. As Theophrastus has pointed out, people indeed DO use archaic language. By definition, archaic language is language that belongs to an earlier time, but is still in use. Obsolete language is language that belongs to an earlier time, period. People depend on archaic language in a multitude of contexts to give an archaic flavor to their speech. “Love thy neighbor,” for example, brought forth 21 MILLION hits on Bing. There was even one from a modern language Bible translator relating how translating Mark 12:31 inspired him to marry his language assistant. “Love your neighbor” just didn’t have enough of a romantic ring to it.

    However we can succeed in removing Elizabethan English from our Bibles, we can never altogether remove it from our lips, or our pens–because it is in our hearts.

  11. Rich Rhodes
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    @Theophrastus,
    Actually, I read and hear this idiom all the time, almost always referring to non-tangible things that one would not think are for sale: e.g., “the peace was bought at a price” (that phrase, for example, gets numerous hits from Google — even a headline from a Time article in 1948: “The peace, as usual, was bought at a price.”)

    I’m not sure if the origin of this English idiom is Biblical or if it had an independent origin, but it is certainly comprehensible and natural to me as a native speaker.

    I read the article. In context the meaning of at a price didn’t imply a high price, merely that it wasn’t free, which I take as different from the examples I’m talking about. In fact, I decided not to talk about value in English, because

    It has value.

    just means ‘it has some (positive) value’, which I take to be much weaker than the uses of τιμή in the relevant passages.

    That said, you have to be careful with Googling for expressions. “at a price” gets 143,000,000 hits. More than a third of these (44,000,000) are “at a price of” specifying the price. Another 20,000,000 are “at a price” plus relative clause introducer. (I don’t have a magic wand for finding relative clauses with no complementizer. But I’ll bet there are quite a few tens of millions of those – “at a price you …” gave 17,000,000+, “at a price I …” gave 3,000,000+, “at a price they …” gave 2,800,000. I gave up at that point.) However, the single biggest collocation without a further specification of the price that I could find (6,000,000+ hits) was in the idiom ‘… come at a price’ and idioms don’t really count. “bought at a price” was only 600,000+ and seem overwhelmingly to be Scriptural.

    But you’re right. We can’t discount the effect of Biblish on contemporary English usage, as White Man points out.

  12. Rich Rhodes
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    @Tony,
    The reason we can tell that τιμή can have an implication of ‘high price’ is three-fold.

    First, the two passages cited (Acts 7:16 and I Cor. 6:20) both provide strong contextual support that a high price was paid, and there’s nothing else in the sentences to pin that on. It isn’t just that we are bought and paid for. A 50¢ candy bar can be described as bought and paid for. The point is that it cost God a lot to pay for us.

    Second, the fact that the word τιμή means ‘honor’ as well suggests an implication of high value. That is, more abstract meanings are derived from less abstract meanings — a basic principle of semantic change. Thus ‘honor’ comes from ‘price/value’, but that only makes sense if ‘value’ is really ‘(high) value’.

    And third, the derived adjective τίμιος means ‘precious’. Theoretically it could mean ‘of or relating to value’, but it doesn’t. It includes the implication of high value.

  13. Rich Rhodes
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    @Kurk,
    We haven’t done this dance in a while. I’m not essentializing feminists at all. That was a joke. You keep calling me an essentialist and I keep bristling at the charge. There is nothing about essentialism that I believe to be true.

    Your position seems to be that the NT language is what it is and we can’t tell what the writers were doing with it. You seem to want to leave open that the writers of the NT were playing with language all the time. I don’t think there’s any evidence for that at all, and I’m convinced that there is evidence about what writers are doing with their language. (As you know I think pomo is philosophically bankrupt. It’s internally inconsistent.)

    Assuming that they are always playing with language only clouds the issue when they actually are.

    For the most part Paul only thought he was writing throw-away letters to ordinary folks. He’d be horrified to find out that we treat them with the same reverence as the Torah. Sure he was educated, and used that when he wrote, but still this is basically plain speaking, and the thousands of pages of contemporary papyri show that he was just talking the way people talked.

    Because we teach dead languages in a very approximate way, we miss that the writers meant very specific things, and we can often tell what those are. White Man is right. Luke was most definitely making a point when he said ὠνέομαι instead of ἀγοράζω. Ignoring that our current translations don’t reflect that, that kind of point CANNOT be made using your approach to the text.

    There are important implications of priming and surpression for the way you work which we’ll need to discuss at some point.

    But for now we may just have to agree to disagree.

  14. iverlarsen
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Rich said to Tony:

    “First, the two passages cited (Acts 7:16 and I Cor. 6:20) both provide strong contextual support that a high price was paid, and there’s nothing else in the sentences to pin that on.”

    Didn’t you just talk about scenarios or frames? A scenario goes beyond the sentence. As soon as the reader hears “You were bought/ransomed” he will think of the sacrifice of Christ. The high value in this place and 7:23 may not come from the sentence, but from background knowledge of the scenario. There are other places where τιμή refers to the reasonable and expected value or worth of something. It doesn’t have to be very high.

    “Second, the fact that the word τιμή means ‘honor’ as well suggests an implication of high value. That is, more abstract meanings are derived from less abstract meanings — a basic principle of semantic change. Thus ‘honor’ comes from ‘price/value’, but that only makes sense if ‘value’ is really ‘(high) value’.”

    I agree that ‘price’ doesn’t cover the meaning of τιμή very well, and I think talking about cheap or low τιμή would be a collocational clash. However, I think that the English ‘value’ is close to τιμή. If you value a person, you honor him/her. Whether it is a normal or high value seems to depend on the scenario. I am not saying that ‘value’ would work as a translation in 1 Cor 6:20. I am not against “a high cost” for this verse, although I don’t like ‘price’, but then, English is not my language.

    “And third, the derived adjective τίμιος means ‘precious’. Theoretically it could mean ‘of or relating to value’, but it doesn’t. It includes the implication of high value.”

    Doesn’t τίμιος correspond to English valuable as derived from value? If something is valuable, it is worth a considerable amount. τίμιος can also mean “seen as valuable”. In some contexts that is “(highly) respected”. The semantic range may move from valuable to precious, but the degree of worth is determined by the scenario.

  15. Glenn
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Rich Rhodes said;
    “For the most part Paul only thought he was writing throw-away letters to ordinary folks. He’d be horrified to find out that we treat them with the same reverence as the Torah.”

    On what basis do you make such an assertion?

  16. Posted August 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Your position seems to be that the NT language is what it is and we can’t tell what the writers were doing with it. You seem to want to leave open that the writers of the NT were playing with language all the time…. Assuming that they are always playing with language only clouds the issue when they actually are.

    Rich, First, thanks for the dialogue. Second, you’re showing me I haven’t made my point clear. By “play” I mean things like you’ve done by using “clouds” in your sentence above here. But there’s so much more to “play” with words: “performance,” hermenuetical “wiggle room,” and of course “playfulness.” This is what Pike meant by n-dimensionality of language (or by “radical relativism” in language). We humans, even as linguists describing our language, can hardly exhaust all that’s being done with language, whether we’re the writer or speaker or the listener or reader. Pike was always playful when doing his monolingual demonstration.

    What I’m objecting to is your telling us all and exactly what Paul means when his contemporaries also struggled with that. No one is saying we can’t figure out some, many, or even most of the meanings of Paul’s and Luke’s ἀγοράζω. (I’m traveling now and don’t have many resources other than an iPhone and can’t at the moment give lots of examples from memory).

    But I’d bet you a price that you haven’t nailed down the only thing you think Paul said. You certainly can’t explain how his writing ἠγοράσθητε γὰρ τιμῆς sounding normal and common to the Greek readers in Corinth. This may be marked language, and you want to use unmarked CEV active voice and transitivity in a translation?

  17. Tony Pope
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Rich, your reasons seem to be based on (a) the fact that we know from elsewhere that the price was high (Iver’s “background knowledge”), and (b) some linguistic generalizations which could apply here but might not. I was hoping for actual examples from Greek writers. I looked this morning at Deissmann’s “Light from the Ancient East”, and at BAGD, the standard lexicon.

    Deissmann says: “τιμῆς … is quite a stereotyped expression in the records, of course with the addition of a definite sum. But τιμῆς can also be used absolutely, as shown by the great document containing royal ordinances of Euergetes II., 118 B.C., The Tebtunis Papyri, No. 5 [lines] 185, 194, 20, cf. the editorial note p. 50 f. The Vulgate pretio magno and Luther’s translation “dearly bought” can hardly be right. St. Paul is not emphasising the amount of the price, but the fact that the redemption has taken place.”

    I found lines 185 and 194 of P. Tebt. 5 with translation at

    http://www.archive.org/stream/nonliterarypapyr02hunt#page/70/mode/2up

    I don’t see any emphasis there on the price being a high one.

    BAGD also references BGU1002 line 13, which can be seen at

    http://www.archive.org/stream/aegyptischeurkun312kn#page/n699/mode/2up

    This is a bill of sale, and again at least at first glance the word τιμῆς doesn’t appear to be putting focus on how much but on the fact that it has been paid: Σὰ δέ ἐστιν πάντα τὰ προγεγραμμένα, δέδωκά σοι αὐτὰ τιμῆς ἀπὸ τῆς ἐνεστῶσης ἡμέρας [All the foregoing are yours, I give them to you in return for the money from today - my rough translation, where "the money" means in context the sum agreed on.]

    I found an example in Moulton & Milligan’s Vocabulary where “high price” is indeed a reasonable translation

    διὰ τὴν τοῦ σίτου τιμήν [because of the high price of corn]

    You can read it with translation at

    http://www.archive.org/stream/cu31924022695831#page/n53/mode/2up

    But that is in a different kind of phrase from what we have in 1 Cor. 6.20. I remain unconvinced that Paul’s primary focus is the high price of the Corinthians’ redemption. It’s rather that there has been a change of ownership and it’s definitive. We’re in the business world scenario where “goods that have not been paid for remain the property of the supplier”. In this case it’s the slave market and the goods have been paid for, so the slaves owe allegiance to their new master, not to the old master, nor are they free agents.

    Of course, I am not arguing for a translation like that of RSV or NIV, which have always bothered me when I read them.

  18. Rich Rhodes
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Oh boy, such a plethora of comments. I can’t keep up. I’m already a day behind.

    @White Man,

    Yeah, I cheated a little on the methaphoric equation. It runs both ways.

    best example of the type IS the type

    also entails

    the type IS the best example of the type

    Thus ἄνθρωπος is sometimes used to mean “(adult) male human” (e.g., Mat. 17:14) — that’s the Germanic *man case — and ἀνήρ is sometimes used to mean “(adult) human”.

    As for archaic language, that probably demands a post of its own. My argument has always been that the NT contains passages in archaic language, but our monotonic translations — from KJV to The Message — wash that distinction out. Many of the LXX quotes are in what amounts to Biblish Greek. All our translations miss that. So to even make such a distinction available, the non-Biblish Greek needs to be translated into non-Biblish English. QED

    @Glen,
    This is part of why I maintain that Paul didn’t think he was writing Scripture. When he quoted Scripture it was in Biblish Greek. If he thought he was writing Scripture, he’d have written it all in Biblish. (The other, and even better, reason is he put very personal stuff in. Reading his letters, especially at the end — the parts that almost never get preached from — you get the feeling you are eavesdropping. If Paul thought he was writing Scripture, he wouldn’t have put any of that in.)

  19. Posted August 8, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    7:23 τιμῆς ἠγοράσθητε μὴ γίνεσθε δοῦλοι ἀνθρώπων

    Rich, You do have an awful lot of us commenting so pls don’t feel you have to reply to this additional comment of mine. I just happen to be riding in the car on family vacation reading the 1st century novel Callirhoe in Greek with G. P. Goold’s translation on facing pages. I’m struck by how many things in this book – contemporary with Paul’s 1st ltr to Corinth perhaps – relate to your post.

    For one thing, translator Goold renders as “high price” the Greek word “ti-me,” and novelist Chariton uses the word when discussing “buying” or “argyros” (See 1.10.7)

    for another thing, the one being sold is Callirhoe (the Beauty who is a woman, the novel’s protagonist inasmuch as a female can be the central character of the 1st century Greek reader). The fascinating issue here is that the men buying and selling her have trouble believing she is a slave and isn’t of an elite class or divine because she is so beautiful. Slaves are, in their worldview, natural born and are not beautiful. (See 2.1.5)

    this hierarchy is further reinforced by a bit of dialogue: “You blasphemer, do you talk to gods [tois theois] as you would to men [anthropois]? Have you the nerve to call her a bought slave [argyponton]“? (2.3.6-7)

    A third thing of interest: Goold calls a man abducting Callirhoe a “kidnapper”. In Chariton’s Greek it’s literally “man-stepper-on-er” (“Andra-podistes”). It’s funnier in Greek because readers know she is not a man. Every other time “andres” / “aner” is used it’s for “husband” or “man” (not for women or humans in general). See 2.1.8.

    Your feminist joke is rhetorical, Rich. Feminist writers and rhetoric scholars such as Nancy Mairs note how masculinist language is reductively binary (or “dimorphic”). In contrast, and like Pike’s view of language, many feminists’ view of and use of language is “polymorphic”. When reading Paul writing Greek to those who live in Greece, I think it’s not a bad idea to consider how polymorphic that Greek is read (and perhaps how polymorphic it’s intended to be read). At any rate with the little iPhone I was able to find and cut and paste one other instance of Paul’s use of the words in question (from ch 7 of 1 Cor.); and I start this long comment with that.

  20. Rich Rhodes
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    @Tony,
    The expression of money or value in the genitive is the construction used to specify price. The corresponding English construction is for [money/value].

    Deissmann didn’t have a clue about how any of this frame stuff works. He was a theologian and Greek scholar and he died in 1937 when even linguists didn’t have a handle on basic syntax, let alone these more cognitively based insights. So his observation is correct — that τιμῆς shows up a lot where price is mentioned. But it isn’t a “stereotyped expression”. It simply is the way you express price, period.

    And Deissmann was dead wrong about the Vulgate. You can’t just blow it off. Jerome was bilingual. He provides very strong evidence for what the Greek means. You have to take what he says very, very seriously — particularly if it is not verbatim what’s in the Greek. (There’s a parallel argument about Syriac.)

    Anyway, in Latin pretium in the ablative (ablative of price) does not have the property that τιμή in the genitive has of implying ‘high price’. Hence Jerome translated pretio magno . Interestingly, he could have said just magno, because quantifiers can be used in Latin in the ablative to express price with pretio understood. magno ‘at a high price’ parvo ‘at a low price’, etc. But he probably kept the pretio in because it was there in Greek.

    Another reason you have to say that there is something extra in I Cor. 6:20 is Gricean. You don’t put words in that do nothing. Paul could have said:

    ἠγοράσθητε γὰρ

    if all he meant was that you belong to God because He purchased you. The fact that he added τιμῆς, means that something about the price is relevant. If all he meant was that there was a price, he wouldn’t have mentioned it. That there is a price is a property of the frame. (When something is bought there is a price.) Mentioning the price is only relevant if something more is implied in the mention.

  21. Rich Rhodes
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    @Iver,
    Good point about valuable. pricy works the same way.

  22. Mark Kennedy
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    Just subscribing…

  23. Rich Rhodes
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    @Kurk,
    I’m impressed that you do so much from your iPhone. I’m happy just to do basic FB.

    As for the question of what makes for play with language, we’ll need a longer conversation. One of the things that people know about their native language is just how novel usages are. On the other hand, they are frequently blissfully unaware of metaphor if it isn’t pushing the boundaries. So when I say X clouds one’s view of Y. Most people don’t think of it as playful or creative at all. It’s just the way English is spoken.

    We’ll need to talk about the significance of activation and suppression for this discussion.

  24. Tony Pope
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    RR: [τιμῆς] simply is the way you express price, period.

    Agreed, when (as is more often the case) a definite sum of money is mentioned with it. But it also occurs absolutely, as in the two P. Tebt. examples. Does it there mean a *high* price? Apparently not, as it makes no sense in the context, but it must add some extra meaning or Grice’s maxim would be flouted there.

    Thank you Kurk for the example from Callirhoe, 1.10.6. (Not 7.) One of the pirates who has kidnapped her says “Perhaps someone may say that it is more profitable to sell the girl, since she will fetch a high price for her beauty.” (τιμὴν γὰρ εὑρήσει διὰ τὸ κάλλος)

    I read on a bit, and interestingly, Callirhoe complains to Fortune “For this I was given my famed beauty, that the pirate Theron might win a high price for me!” (ἵνα ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ Θήρων ὁ λῃστὴς μεγάλην λάβῃ τιμήν.) (1.14.8) Note the fronted adjective μεγάλην and discontinuous phrase.

    And Kurk brought up 1 Cor. 7.23 too. What’s the relevance of the amount of the price in that context? Jerome didn’t insert magno there.

  25. Mike Sangrey
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Does it there mean a *high* price? Apparently not, as it makes no sense in the context, but it must add some extra meaning or Grice’s maxim would be flouted there.

    I wonder if something like dear price would be a good way to understand τιμῆς.

    I’m reminded of the Benjamin Franklin quote: Experience keeps a dear school, yet Fools will learn in no other. This statement has been misunderstood to mean experience is a good teacher which is does not mean. Experience is an expensive way of learning. However, since the semantics of dear allow it to play both ways, the sentence easily drifted to a meaning Benjamin did not intend.

    So, for 185 of P. Tebt. 5: the officials were not to “extract a dear price.” To do so borders on a form of robbery.

    For 194 of P. Tebt. 5: I don’t think it makes sense to say that people should be released if they failed to deliver something to the crown at any price. In other words, price with no qualifier–it’s simply at a price. Thinking of this occurrence as failed to deliver to the Crown at a good price allows τιμῆς to carry the idea of value.

  26. Posted August 10, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    1 Cor. 7.23 too. What’s the relevance of the amount of the price in that context? Jerome didn’t insert magno there.

    Tony, Aren’t there parallels between what Paul writes and what Chariton writes, with respect to humans being bought and sold (as slaves) for a price? There may be in various contexts what Relevance Theorists call “implicatures” and what Rhetoric Scholars call “enthymemes” — that is — unstated implications and inferences of meanings when τιμ* is used. It can refer to “honor” even when clearly there is reference to “gold,” “money,” and to “wealth”; an obvious example is Xenophon’s Economics (11.9.5) in which there’s discussion about giving to gods and to fellow humans. As with in Callirhoe (1.14.8), which you point out, there’s the adjective μεγαλ*.

    Your bringing up how Jerome decides against “magno” when translating Paul’s clause τιμῆς ἠγοράσθητε is wonderful. Now you’ve made me want to see how Renata Roncali (at Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro) has translated Callirhoe into Latin: Due nuovi testimoni per Caritone (“Discusses two mss. of Chariton’s novel De Chaerea et Callirrhoe: an 18th-century Latin translation, transcribed and published here for the first time; and a recent, incomplete copy of the original Greek text, published in facsimile.”) Does she use “magno”? Do translators always have to spell out everything for readers?

  27. Posted August 12, 2010 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    A further thought, listening to Isaiah in the car (becausde I will soon teach the book for the first time) I was struck by 52:3 “For thus says the LORD: You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.”

    The NRSV’s “money” here is kesep which the LXX renders argurion so there is not a direct verbal quotation, but still it sounds like a possible allusion…

    Any thoughts? (With travel between cities, extra teaching and a funeral I have not had a chance to think this through….)

  28. Rich Rhodes
    Posted August 12, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    @Tim,
    kesef is, like argurion, the word for ‘silver’. So the logic is the same. Silver is the thing used as money, so you name the type with the name of the best/most common example of the type.

    If the question is actually whether it is more accurate to translate kesef as ‘money’ or ‘(pieces of) silver’ then I’d argue that in the many passages containing ‘kesef’ which are about silver as currency not as precious metal (including the one in question), then the KJV translators got it right (and that translation has been passed down to the NRSV).

    It would be somewhat confusing to say in English: you shall be redeemed without silver.

  29. Posted August 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Tim brings up a point in translating silver as ‘money’ in metaphorical contexts. Yes, silver was the typical means of exchange, but not the only one. Gold was also used. But since gold was worth something like 20 times as valuable as silver, one gold piece represented a whole purse of silver and was not likely to be used for most commercial transactions. In fact, the KJV never translates as ‘money’ any coinage other than silver. Gold was mentioned in usages that would typically require the word ‘millions’ to translate into modern English.

    Therefore, if we are talking about high price or value being intrinsic to a word, ‘silver’ doesn’t carry that connotation. So in translating Isaiah 52:3, it looks like rather than needing to emphasize the high price implied in the word used, we should rather emphasize the opposite. Something roughly like,

    “You were sold for nothing, and it won’t cost one red cent to get you back.”

    That’s probably a bit too much in the other direction, though, as the use of ‘cent’ denotes copper, which is much less valuable even then silver. Try this:

    “You were sold for nothing, and it won’t cost one thin dime to get you back.”

  30. Posted August 12, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    @ Rich, yes, that actually was the point I meant to make, though in a hurry I did not spell out that I meant that the NT passage was not quoting Isaiah. Since it uses a different word (not one that also means “silver”) for the “price”. I was wondering if the point was that unlike the situation in Isaiah where Israel was redeemed with no price being paid, by contrast WE have been redeemed with a price!

  31. Mike Sangrey
    Posted August 14, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Another good example of framing just hit the news wires–emergency contraceptive. See: the MedPage.

    The framing can be easily understood when one simply asks how a pharmaceutical company could make money when such a pill is only used during emergencies.

    I might add that one can see framing in any controversy since people frame the actual text differently.


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