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Saturday, January 26, 2008

More power, more danger

In general I like technology. I love being able to google into books that I have read and find a quote. It's fantastic and saves one heck of a lot of page-turning. But, the point is I DID READ THE BOOK. [Hey you! Stop shouting.] Okay, okay, I will. But shh, let me just tell the story.

The other day, on another blog, I was writing about the difference between ἡ ἀρχή and ὁ ἄρχων, suggesting that κεφαλή might be the former, but not the latter. However, I did not use the accents. [That's right, you used to think they weren't all that important, remember?] Okay, I admit that. I was wrong.

Anyway ... someone challenged me, and responded,

    Regarding the previous comment on the difference between αρχη/arche and αρχων/archon, they are indeeed the same word, only different forms. arche is the nominative singular (used as the subject), while archon is the genitive plural (possesive). Example usage would be something like this:

    Nominative singular: The ruler/αρχη/arche wrote me a speeding ticket.

    Genitive plural: The ability to create laws is the prerogative of the rulers/αρχων/archon.

Now, it happens that the genitive plural of ἡ ἀρχή is, in fact, τῶν ἀρχῶν while the genitive of ὁ ἄρχων is τῶν ἀρχόντων. So, you know, this is a very understandable error, right.

Well, I went and got my handy, dandy Greek primer and found that the article is taught in lesson 2, 2nd week of September, ἡ ἀρχή in lesson 3 and ὁ ἄρχων in lesson 13, which would still slip in before Christmas. Let's not talk about the fact that the "ruler" writing the speeding ticket was a female. [And when were female nouns taught in your Primer?] Lesson 3! ἡ ἀρχή is the prototypical, first ever, female noun taught in Greek.

Now, what I want to know is whether open access to software is causing more good or more harm.

I know, I love technological advances. In spite of all the problems with Google Books, when searching for a familiar quote in a book that I have read, I will take a book down off the shelf, google it, find the page by "searching contents" and then find the page in the real book.

Anyway, the upshot was that this debate was supposed to provide evidence that man is the authority over woman. The commenter really thought that the scriptures were saying that man is ὁ ἄρχων of woman, while I happily agreed that in the scriptures man is very possibly ἡ ἀρχή of woman. In other words, κεφαλή could be similar to ἡ ἀρχή but not ὁ ἄρχων. And, no, they are not the same word!

Well, all this because I followed a few links from this post and found graded word lists for learning Greek through software. I decided that I wanted to increase my fluency in Hebrew so I signed up for a course in the old fashioned way. Real people, real books, all that stuff, real literature, reading Psalms in Hebrew. I have a very mixed reaction to technology. I absolutely love it when it works for me, and I don't want to give up one iota of it. However, more power, more danger. It worries me sometimes.


At Tue Jan 29, 05:03:00 PM, Blogger mgvh said...

Hello, Suzanne. I've been reading the Better Bibles Blog for quite a few months now and thank you for your posts.
As for this particular post, I think it shows the advantage of technology. I did some quick checking on ἡ ἀρχή, and what is notable is how few times it really is used to indicate a "ruler." (And though it is a feminine noun, there is no implication of a feminine--or masculine--ruler.) I could do a "quick" check precisely because of the Bible software I have. As usual, I think the problem is more how the tech is used and applied. Yes, someone will see that the word can sometimes mean "ruler," and jump to a generalization about its use. This mistake could be made with or without the technology, however, and the ability to do this quick check should limit such problems. Thanks for keeping up!

At Fri Feb 01, 02:38:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Mark,

I hope to start hanging out with some people who use some of the different software packages so maybe I will become more aware of what is what in that domain. Then I'll be able to make some more intelligent comments on the topic. You have some good stuff on your blog. I'll be getting back to it.


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