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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

2 Tim. 2:15: Orthotomeo IV

Yesterday I did not include all the references from the BAGD entry. However, there is no rush on my part to conclude this study so I thought that I would post these texts today. Here they are: Thucydides 2.100, Herodotus 4, 136, Plato , Leg 7 page 810E; Plutarch., Galba 24, 7; Josephus. C Ap. 1, 309.

The texts as they appear here are copied from the Perseus Digital Library. However, I did not sit at the computer to read many of these texts on the internet. My husband is a forestry consultant with an avid interest in modern and ancient military history. Thucydides and Herodotus were familiar to both of us already in their English Penguin paperback form so we were able to have a lively discussion about the military and social context of road-building.

I am simply going to post these texts for now so people can start building a semantic web from terms like ευθυτομος, συντομος, and the various meanings of τετμημένος. What looked originally like an unusual word appears to fit into a fairly common nomenclature for both roads and words.
    Thucydides, Peloponnesian War

    Archelaus, the son of Perdiccas, on his accession, who also cut straight roads, and otherwise put the kingdom on a better footing as regards horses, heavy infantry, and other war material than had been done by all the eight kings that preceded him. Thu. 2.100.1
    καὶ ὁδοὺς εὐθείας* ἔτεμε Greek.
    Herodotus, Histories
    [A]nd as the Persian army was for the most part infantry and did not know the roads (which were not marked), while the Scythians were horsemen and knew the short cuts, they went wide of each other, and the Scythians reached the bridge long before the Persians. Herodotus Laws 4.136
    ἅτε δὲ του̂ Περσικου̂ μὲν του̂ πολλου̂ ἐόντος πεζου̂ στρατου̂ καὶ τὰς ὁδοὺς οὐκ ἐπισταμένου, ὥστε οὐ τετμημενέων τω̂ν ὁδω̂ν, του̂ δὲ Σκυθικου̂ ἱππότεω καὶ τὰ σύντομα τη̂ς ὁδου̂ ἐπισταμένου, ἁμαρτόντες ἀλλήλων, ἔφθησαν πολλῳ̂ οἱ Σκύθαι τοὺς Πέρσας ἐπὶ τὴν γέφυραν ἀπικόμενοι. Greek
    Plato, Laws
    You are, I say, bidding me adventure myself with the latter company and proceed boldly along the path of legislation marked out in our present discourse, without flinching. Plato's Laws 7.810e
    μεθ' ὡ̂ν διακελεύῃ με παρακινδυνεύοντά τε καὶ θαρρου̂ντα τὴν νυ̂ν ἐκ τω̂ν παρόντων λόγων τετμημένην ὁδὸν τη̂ς νομοθεσίας πορεύεσθαι μηδὲν ἀνιέντα Greek
    Plutarch, Galba
    [H]e went on into the forum, near the spot where a golden pillar stands, at which all the several roads through Italy terminate.
    ἐβάδιζεν εἰς ἀγοράν, οὗ χρυσοῦς εἱστήκει κίων, εἰς ὃν αἱ τετμημέναι τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας ὁδοὶ πᾶσαι τελευτῶσιν Greek
    Josephus, Contra Apionem
    [O]n the next day there was one Moses, who advised them that they should venture upon a journey, and go along one road till they should come to places fit for habitation:. Josephus, Contra Apionem, 1, 309
    τῃ̂ δ' ἐπιούσῃ ἡμέρᾳ Μωση̂ν τινα συμβουλευ̂σαι αὐτοι̂ς παραβαλλομένοις μίαν ὁδὸν τέμνειν ἄχρι ἂν ὅτου ἔλθωσιν εἰς τόπους οἰκουμένους Greek
    Pindar, Odes
    And he founded precincts of the gods that were greater than before, [90] and he established, for the processions of Apollo, protector of men, a straight cut, level, paved road for the clatter of horses' hooves, where at the edge of the marketplace he rests by himself in death. Pindar 5. 90
    κτίσεν δ' ἄλσεα μείζονα θεω̂ν,
    εὐθύτομόν τε κατέθηκεν ̓Απολλωνίαις
    ἀλεξιμβρότοις* πεδιάδα* πομπαι̂ςἔμμεν ἱππόκροτον
    σκυρωτὰν ὁδόν, ἔνθα πρυμνοι̂ς ἀγορα̂ς ἔπι* δίχα κει̂ται* θανών.
    μάκαρ μὲν ἀνδρω̂ν μέτα
    ἔναιεν, ἥρως δ' ἔπειτα λαοσεβής.


    At Wed Mar 29, 01:11:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

    It seems to me that there is some difference of usage among these different authors (or at least a difference of understanding among their translators) about whether τέμνω temnō, used of a road, means to build a road (Thucydides, Plutarch(?)), to mark a road (Herodotus - the roads apparently existed but were hard to follow), or to go along a road (Josephus - if properly understood by the translator). And this uncertainty is quite closely reflected in the different translations of 2 Timothy 2:15: is Timothy to make a straight way with or through Scripture, to mark an existing way for others to follow, or just to go along a straight way himself?

    At Wed Mar 29, 07:50:00 AM, Blogger lingamish said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    At Wed Mar 29, 08:02:00 AM, Blogger lingamish said...

    This is ground-breaking stuff! Or should I say "earth-shattering?" It cuts across linguistic and historical lines! OK, I'll stop.

    Seems to me that:

    1. "cutting a road" was a common enough idiom.
    2. there is no sense of violence, aggression in the use of the word.

    I would be really curious to do more study on the 2 Tim. passage and see if there is an extended "road" metaphor going on there.

    Can we draw a parallel between the "unashamed workman" and "Archelaus, the son of Perdiccas, on his accession, who also cut straight roads?"

    At Wed Mar 29, 01:48:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

    It strikes me that "cutting a road" was not all that common an idiom if those are all the examples that can be found - but then maybe there are in fact a lot more. And I would think that a better fit to the metaphor in this verse (I don't see anything extended), more appropriately going with ἐργάτης ergatēs "workman, labourer", would be something from carpentry or stonemasonry, where making a straight cut is especially important. Are there, I wonder, good examples of τέμνω temnō or -τομέω -tomeō compounds used in this context? From a limited lexicon of the Septuagint, I find that τέμνω temnō is used in 2 Kings 6:4 of chopping wood and in Daniel 2:34 of hewing stones.

    I found the following -τομέω -tomeō compounds in a list of LXX lemmas (glosses and references as in this dictionary, I don't know if they are exhaustive):

    ἀποδειροτομέω apodeirotomeō "to cut off the head" (4 Maccabees 15:20);

    γλωσσοτομέω glōssotomeō and γλωττοτομέω glōttotomeō "to cut out the tongue" (2 Maccabees 7:4, 4 Maccabees 10:19, 12:13);

    δειροτομέω deirotomeō (no gloss or references given);

    δενδροτομέω dendrotomeō "to cut down trees" (4 Maccabees 2:14);

    διχοτομέω dikhotomeō "to cut in two" (Exodus 29:17, cf. "dichotomy") (also διχοτόμημα dikhotomēma "divided part", Genesis 15:11,17, Exodus 29:17, Leviticus 1:8, Ezekiel 24:4);

    ἐκλατομέω eklatomeō "to hew in stone" (Numbers 21:18, Deuteronomy 6:11);

    λατομέω latomeō "to hew out of the rock" (Exodus 21:33, Deuteronomy 21:33, 1 Chronicles 22:2, 2 Chronicles 26:10, Isaiah 22:16) (also λατομητός latomētos "hewn", 2 Kings 12:13);

    and finally our old friend ὀρθοτομέω orthotomeō, glossed as "to cut in a straight line" (Proverbs 3:6, 11:5).

    At Wed Mar 29, 02:01:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

    Also potentially relevant in LXX:

    λατόμος latomos "stone cutter" (1 Kings 2:35d, 5:29, 2 Kings 12:13, 1 Chronicles 22:2, 2 Chronicles 2:1) (my Liddell and Scott confirms that this is a compound from λᾶς las "stone" and τέμνω temnō "cut");

    ὑλοτόμος hulotomos "cutting wood" (Wisdom 13:11).

    But neither these nor my previous group look to be of much use in explaining ὀρθοτομέω orthotomeō in 2 Timothy 2:15.

    At Wed Mar 29, 03:23:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


    The list you gave shows how common a construction this is. It gives a general feel for the language (and the violence).

    In general reading, I also found 'temno' used for Hiram's logging and 'suntomos' used both for a shortcut and for a brief summary of a lecture, as in, I will give you only the 'suntomon'.

    The examples I gave in this post are by no means exhaustive. I presented these particular examples only to show what information was available in BAGD, that's it.

    I think 'cut a road' or a 'cut road', was a pretty common expression and maybe means something like 'build a road' either cutting out of the forest or hewing stone, just build, but also leading in a direction. 'Orthos' can mean direct, straight across, through the forest, etc.

    Think of the range in English from cut through the crap, cut through red tape, cut through the bush, cut through rock, cut through a neighbour's yard, etc. In some cases actual cutting is happening, and in others you simply walk across grass. In other cases again one simply dispenses with the verbiage.

    I am sure someone is thinking that I should do that here. However, I am committed to exploring the lexicon references in full for the sake of the exercise, and puttering around until Richard gets back.

    More from Proverbs next.

    At Thu Mar 30, 09:12:00 AM, Blogger lingamish said...

    Peter wrote:

    this uncertainty is quite closely reflected in the different translations of 2 Timothy 2:15: is Timothy to make a straight way with or through Scripture, to mark an existing way for others to follow, or just to go along a straight way himself?

    I hope that we can study this more in depth. There are two questions for me: 1. what is the usage of this verb form? I've heard it called participle(imperative sense). 2. what is the function of "word of truth?" Is it instrumental? Direct object? Locative? Or something else.

    At Thu Mar 30, 10:46:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

    1. It's a participle, yes, but the imperative sense is only indirect. Timothy is encouraged to become the sort of person who does this, rather than directly to do it. The difference is subtle, but possibly affects translation.

    2. "The word of truth" is grammatically a direct object. But its semantic function seems uncertain. Suzanne seems to assume that it is the object or material which is to be cut ("cutting a straight path in/through the word of truth"), but as I mentioned before I don't think we can completely rule out it being the cutting instrument ("cutting a straight path with the word of truth") or the beneficiary of the cutting ("cutting a straight path for the word of truth")

    At Thu Mar 30, 12:15:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


    I think the word is the beneficiary, rather than the instrument.

    "cutting a straight path in/through the word of truth"

    Did I say that??!!

    Well, it may be implied in my examples of 'cut' but no - I wouldn't take the preposition 'through' with me from those examples that I used to illustrate the range of meaning for 'cut' in English, into the relationship between orthotomeo and word of truth.

    I am more or less leaving this part till the end, until after I have finished my little tour around other literature.

    At Thu Mar 30, 03:00:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

    Suzanne, I didn't mean to put words in your mouth, but I did take the idea from your examples and from what seemed to me to be the general direction of your thinking. Sorry if I misrepresented you. I'll wait patiently for you to reach your conclusions and post them.

    At Thu Mar 30, 04:02:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


    Not at all. Nothing is worse than no comment! It is good to see how my examples come across, in any case. I had not even noticed how I had used the preposition 'through'. I found your comment very useful, but the image of cutting 'through' the word of truth took me aback. What a thought!

    I am taking a circuitous route for sure. But the input that you and others have given is much appreciated. I do want to ask how you came up with all those examples of '-tomeo' from the Septuagint.

    At Fri Mar 31, 03:15:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

    Suzanne asked: I do want to ask how you came up with all those examples of '-tomeo' from the Septuagint.

    It was simple. As the search facilities on my electronic lexicon of the Septuagint do not allow searching on anything other than the beginning of a word, I opened the lexicon in Word as a Unicode text file and searched for the strings "τομέω" and "τόμος". Actually there were some slight complications relating to Unicode representation of accents, but once I found how they were represented in the lexicon I simply copied that.

    At Fri Mar 31, 07:30:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...



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