Friday, October 9, 2009

Dissoi Logoi and What a Church Father May Have Known


Looks like there's a series of posts going here. So let me review and then preview.

The first post shows rhetorical wordplay in the bible that translation teams overlook as they get hung up in debates over which of their two "translation" methods (either "formal" or "functional" equivalence) is the better "solution" to their word problem, which is precisely that they do not "know—with precision—what it means." The second post shows rhetorical wordplay that the bible repeats although a "biblical Greek" educator (namely Bill Mounce) may overlook the power of the rhetoric of word repetition as he seems to repeat a particularly poor English translation of a certain Greek word, (namely "repeating," "repetition," "to repeat" and "repetitious, gossips, saying one thing and meaning another, saying one thing to one person but another to another person" for δί·λογος / dí-logos /).

This third post shows what early after-the-bible bible commentators said about δί·λογος / dí-logos / and what early before-the-bible sophists wrote in Δισσοι Λόγοι / Dissoi Logoi / that likely got to Paul.

The fourth post might just get into some (feminist rhetorical) motivations for the first three posts.



At one of his blogs, Mounce kindly responded to comments from some of us, his readers. And likewise, I want to respond here to two of his points. He said:
* The argument from two early church fathers (i.e., Greek) that they understood it [i.e., the word δί·λογος / dí-logos / as Paul uses it to Timothy] to mean "deceitful" and another as "saying one thing to this man, and another to that" is significant. Greek was their language and their opinion linguistically (as opposed to theologically) is generally seen as important.
* I am unaware of Δισσοι Λόγοι, so I don't really have an opinion. We do know that Paul was very aware of their Greek culture of his day and often find, for example, uses of technical terms in Stoicism but given a Christian meaning.
To be sure, it is John Chrysostom who writes of Paul's words, "μὴ διλόγους," the following: "τουτέστι, μὴ ὑπούλους, μηδὲ δολερούς." Roughly, Paul's words mean something like, "not double-speaking," and Chrysostom comments something like: "that is, neither hiding pus under a scab, nor deceiving." To be clear, ὑπούλους is a metaphorical term, a word that Socrates (in Plato's dialogue "The Gorgias") uses a couple of times to disparage the sophistry of Gorgias, the "rhetoric" guy.  The word that Plato's Socrates uses more-or-less means "an infection under covered over."  And δολερούς is a term for beguilement and deceit that runs through Homer's epics.  The term is also what the woman Diotima of Mantinea tells the man Socrates (as he recounts her conversation with him to a bunch of other guys getting drunk on wine with him, in Plato's "Symposium"); Plato says that Socrates says that Diotima says: "Mighty-ful and deceitful is love, all of it!" (ὁ μέγιστός τε καὶ δολερὸς ἔρως παντί).

And to be more clear, Aristotle listens very carefully to his teacher Plato as he's listened to his teacher Socrates. They're all on the watch for sophistry, for rhetoric, for coverings of the infections of deceitfulness.  Aristotle is aware of how women are natural deceivers, so he says.

Aristotle is particularly concerned about the sophists's Δισσοι Λόγοι / Dissoi Logoi /. And we can read all about it in Owen Goldin's wonderful essay, "To Tell the Truth: Dissoi Logoi 4 and Aristotle's Responses" (pages 233-49 of Presocratic Philosophy," ed. by Victor Caston and Daniel W. Graham, Burlington, VT: Ashgate P, 2002). Aristotle is concerned with the truth values of one "logos," and with the deceptive problems of two. Of course, Goldin concedes that "there is no clear evidence that Aristotle [directly] knew the Dissoi Logoi itself," but he points to Aristotle's work that "shows he is aware of the sophistic puzzles concerning truth and falsity that are propounded in the first half of Dissoi Logoi" (page 240).

Fortunately, we can be sure to know Dissoi Logoi at least as well as Aristotle did. Maybe better. I have right here the Greek text, and two translations of it: Thomas M. Robinson's and Rosamond Kent Sprague's of 1979 and of 1972 respectively. Now I'm reading the 7th section where there's that discussion of human expertise and assigning slaves and electing leaders for the people and such. I notice the mention of horsemanship there. Hmmm, I'm thinking to myself remembering Xenophon's expertise with horsemanship and his treatise on the subject in which he stops to advise his readers on something else:

"If someone thinks that I am using sophistic double-speak [δι·λογεῖν / di-logein/] because I have referred to matters already dealt with, then know this: this is not sophistic double-speak [οὐ δι·λογία / ou di-logia/]."

I think Xenophon knew rhetoric. I think he knew his readers may think that the sophists (even in Dissoi Logoi) were covering up the pus of one statement by repeating it as another, that they would deceive readers. Clearly, nonetheless, he repeats something about horsemanship, and he also repeats that he is not engaged in dis-logia or di'-logia (δις·λογία or δι·λογία). He's not making two statements in his repetitions; he's not using double-speak as he repeats.

Now, this may sound like we're all beating a dead horse. But I think Chrysostom knew what Paul was doing. And I think Aristotle knew what Xenophon was doing. And everyone, it seems, was somehow or another familiar with how Dissoi Logoi so much sounded like the di(s)-logia that Xenophon and Paul were getting readers and deacons to avoid.

(Now one more little parenthetical thing. Mounce says that there's another Greek commentator, post-Paul, who claims that di-logia means "saying one thing to this man, and another to that." It would be nice if Mounce would at least tell who that is if he won't give us a text. I've looked and think that the alleged definition [i.e., "saying one thing to this man, and another to that"] is somebody's definition of δί·γλωσσος / di-glossos / as is found in the Septuagint's Wisdom of Jesus (Joshua) Son of Sirach, chapters 5 verses 9 and 14 and chapter 28 verse 13.)


Tony Pope said...

This is all very interesting.

The other Greek commentator is Theodoret, Interp. in xiv Epist. S. Pauli, 82 p. 808 l.41. (Found on the free TLG site.)

I also found a quote in the commentary by J E Huther (Eng tr. 1881) to Theophylact that I have not been able to verify: ἄλλα φρονοῦντες καὶ ἄλλα λέγοντες, καὶ
ἄλλα τούτοις καὶ ἄλλα ἐκείνοις. Part of this is mentioned in the NT lexicon by Robinson (1850).

J. K. Gayle said...

It's most helpful to have these citations. Thank you! And as far as you can tell, are Theodoret and Theophylact defining (in Greek of course) Paul's word, / di'-logia / δι·λογία?

Tony Pope said...

Here's the section from Theodoret:
ηʹ. «Διακόνους ὡσαύτως.» Τοῖς αὐτοῖς καὶ οὗτοι
κομισθήτωσαν νόμοις. «Σεμνούς.» Σωφροσύνῃ λάμ- (40)
ποντας. «Μὴ διλόγους.» Μὴ ἕτερα μὲν τούτῳ,
ἕτερα δὲ ἐκείνῳ λέγοντας· ἀλλ’ ἀληθείᾳ τὴν γλῶτ-
ταν κοσμοῦντας. «Μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας.»
Τοὺς γὰρ τὴν θείαν λειτουργίαν πεπιστευμένους
διαφερόντως τοῦδε τοῦ πάθους ἀπηλλάχθαι προσ- (45)
ήκει. «Μὴ αἰσχροκερδεῖς.» Αἰσχροκερδής ἐστιν,
οὐχ, ὥς τινες ὑπειλήφασιν, ὁ καὶ τῶν μικρῶν κερ-
δῶν ἐφιέμενος, ἀλλ’ ὁ ἐκ πραγμάτων αἰσχρῶν καὶ
λίαν ἀτόπων κέρδη συλλέγειν ἀνεχόμενος.

I don't know where to find Theophylact but I suspect he also is offering a paraphrase or exposition of Paul's word.