Thursday, May 22, 2008

Using the Greek New Testament for devotions part 11: The semantic range of conjunctions

Having been away on a number of conferences my devotional reading has been limited to English, using the Robert Murray McCheyne reading plan. During this time, I have noticed my Greek really do downhill. This week I jumped back into devotional reading of the Greek text, and have been blessed by God's wonderful word.

Today I was reading,
ESV John 18:18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

The last phrase is
ἦν δὲ καὶ ὁ Πέτρος μετʼ αὐτῶν ἑστὼς καὶ θερμαινόμενος.

(you may need to get unicode working on your computer to see this text properly.)

My translation of this was, "but even Peter was being with them, standing and warming himself."

I translated the δὲ as "but" instead of "and" (as in the USB handbook on John)and I translated the καὶ as "even" instead of "also". This translation shows how shocking it was that even Peter, was now (being - imperfect tense) outside with Jesus' enemies.

Is my translation legitmate?
It all depends on how the καὶ is functioning. It could be either an Ascensive conjunction, or a Connective conjunction. In both cases, these uses add another idea to the thought of the sentence. The main difference between the two, is that the Ascensive conjunction
expresses a final addition or point of focus.
Wallace p.670

In the context, it seems to me that the ascensive works well: Verse 18 pictures the servants and the temple police standing around the fire warming themselves, and then the final picture is, EVEN Peter, Jesus' right hand man, is standing there with them.

This is a tragic picture, that spoke to me as I read it slowly in the Greek, taking note of the word και . It reminded me of times when I have been standing with sinners, knowing in the back of my mind that I was in the wrong place. Hearing things that I knew I should not be hearing, and failing to bear testimony of Jesus Christ. All for the sake of some small benefit (such as keeping warm).

This passage reminds me of Psalm 1, and the need to not stand with the sinners, not to sit with them.
This passage makes me want to cling to Jesus all the more tighly. To trust in him, and ask him to protect from evil, and temptation, and for the Holy Spirit to enable me to be a bold witness.

To Jesus be the glory,