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Author Topic: Greek "apostrophi" - "desire," "yearning," "turning to," "turning from," or..?  (Read 5462 times)
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Heorhij
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« on: June 25, 2008, 04:53:23 PM »

Dear folks,

In another thread, I asked about the original Hebrew or the Septuagint Greek terminology used to render Gen. 3:16. In that discussion, it turned out that the Greek text contains the word "apostrophi," which can be translated as "turning from" - yet, nevertheless, is translated sometimes as "turning to," or "desire," or "yearning" (or even "lust").

A similar question. Here is the KJV English text of Gen. 4:7:

" If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. "

In the Septuagint Greek, is the word that I made bold - "desire" - "apostrophi?"

What's the meaning of this verse?

Thanks!

--G.
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2008, 06:14:50 PM »

"Apostrophi" comes from a military term. When an enemy army was forced to turn and retreat, the place where they  were forced to retreat was called the "apostrophi" ("turning away"), and often a monument was built there which was also called the "Apostrophi".
In the Septuagint, the word used in Genesis 4:7 is "apostrophi" and refers to "his turning away/retreat".  In other words: "His retreat shall be your [victory] and you shall rule over him."
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2008, 06:18:51 PM »

According to the OSB, both recourse and rule are described by the same word, apostrophi.
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2008, 06:20:45 PM »

"Apostrophi" comes from a military term. When an enemy army was forced to turn and retreat, the place where they  were forced to retreat was called the "apostrophi" ("turning away"), and often a monument was built there which was also called the "Apostrophi".
In the Septuagint, the word used in Genesis 4:7 is "apostrophi" and refers to "his turning away/retreat".  In other words: "His retreat shall be your [victory] and you shall rule over him."

Thanks, George. That is very helpful. But then I am lost, why in the Ukrainian translation by prof. I. Ohienko, the second sentence in Gen. 4:7 reads, "І до тебе його пожадання, а ти мусиш над ним панувати" ("and toward you there will be his desire (or lust), but you must rule over him." Also, I understand that "he" in this verse refers to sin (mentioned in the first sentence); so, why "he," rather than "it?"
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2008, 06:59:03 PM »

The Greek text is ambiguous, because it doesn't even mention sin as personified. It goes:

Ouk ean orthws prosenenkes, orthws de me dieles, hemartes? Hesychason: pros se he apostrophe autou kai sy arxeis autou.

"If you brought [your offering] properly, but you didn't divide it properly, have you not sinned? Be at peace: he [sin - normally feminine in both Greek and Hebrew: hamartia/ chatta't, but here autou is either masculine or neutral] has got [his eyes] turned on you [as a beast craving to devour you], but you will have power over him".

The targum (the Aramaic paraphrase/translation) on this locus is very helpful: If thou makest thy work good in this world, will it not be forgiven and remitted thee in the world to come? But if thou doest not make thy work good in this world, thy sin is retained unto the day of the great judgment; and at the door of thy heart it lieth. Yet into thy hand have I delivered power over evil passion, and to thee may be dominion over it, to become righteous or to sin. (English translation by JW Etheridge, 1862).

So sin is personified - it is actually a demon, yetzer hara' (what the Fathers call logismos - "evil thought/instinct"), lurking like a beast and ready to devour at all times, but it is not invincible. Cf. I Peter 5:8-9 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith".



« Last Edit: June 25, 2008, 07:13:00 PM by Romaios » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2008, 07:04:29 PM »

Brenton translates it from the LXX as:

Hast thou not sinned if thou hast brought it rightly, but not rightly divided it?  be still, to thee shall be his submission, and thou shalt rule over him.
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2008, 07:12:39 PM »

Thanks, George. That is very helpful. But then I am lost, why in the Ukrainian translation by prof. I. Ohienko, the second sentence in Gen. 4:7 reads, "І до тебе його пожадання, а ти мусиш над ним панувати" ("and toward you there will be his desire (or lust), but you must rule over him." Also, I understand that "he" in this verse refers to sin (mentioned in the first sentence); so, why "he," rather than "it?"

Good question. Lets look at the Septuagint and see if we can come up with an answer:

Και  ειπε  Κυριος ο Θεος   τω     Καιν
And said  the Lord God   unto   Cain

      ινα   τι               περιλυπος          εγενου
for what reason         sorrowful      hast thou become?

και       ινα      τι            συνεπεσε        το προσωπον     σου
and   for what reason    is downcast       the face         of you?

Ουκ        εαν      ορθως                προσενεγκης
Had not     if      uprightly (orthos)      offered it


ορθως     δε μη       διελης          ημαρτες 
uprightly  but not    divided(?)   you sinned


ησυχασον
Be still (hesychason)


   πρoς    σε                                 η   αποστροφη           αυτων
towards  you    [shall be]         the retreat/submission       of him


και                    αρξεις            αυτου.
and    [you shall] be ruler          of him
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2008, 07:37:04 PM »

"Apostrophi" comes from a military term. When an enemy army was forced to turn and retreat, the place where they  were forced to retreat was called the "apostrophi" ("turning away"), and often a monument was built there which was also called the "Apostrophi".

This is a possible interpretation of apostrophe, but it's not the basic meaning of the word, which is simply "turning back/away" (from apo-strephw). What you described reminded me of the tropaion, which comes from a similar root: apo-trepw (return, turn back), hence the adjective "apotropaic" (that which makes the enemy/evil/demons turn back). This is truly a military term: an army used to mark the place where they defeated the enemy and forced him to retreat (apotrepein), by leaving behind a sign (a flag, usually, a sword or other insignia), the tropaion.

This image of the tropaion is best applied to the Holy Cross, which marks the victory of Our Lord over the enemy. That is why it makes demons shudder and compels them to turn back.

St. George, the soldier, is also called tropaio-phoros, the bearer of victory, and icons depict him using a cross-like spear to slay the dragon.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2008, 08:08:01 PM by Romaios » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2008, 09:46:09 AM »

^Romaios, George, Marc, - many-many-many thanks! Most helpful and interesting. --G.
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« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2010, 04:47:50 AM »

There is additional discussion of ἀποστροφή and תשׁוקה in Gen 3:16 here.
Continue to click "Next Message" after reading; there are about 20 messages in the thread.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2010, 04:58:11 AM by xariskai » Logged

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