2012 A snails pace (little greek part 29)

It shouldn’t be this hard. I am translating the first few words of my new greek work book.

ὃ ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆσ, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα…

The easy bit is “Which was from the beginning, which we X?, which we Y, which we (were) Ζ’ed? with our eyes.” but what are X and Y and Z. I can guess but the forms of the words look odd.  Turns out ἀκηκόαμεν is one of the few second perfects in the NT (which have α as a tense formative instead of κα) and is also a rare example of Attik reduplication. The first sylable is reduplicated and the second vowel lengthened ακο > ακακο > ακηκο.

Next, ἑωράκαμεν is from οραω, “to see” whose root is Fορα (the F is a letter of the Greek Alphabet called “digamma” that was no longer used by the time of Koine Greek but its presence in some roots helps explain certain aspects of morphology). MBG says either the stem has received a double augment and the intervocalic F was dropped, or it was augmented with a η and the two vowels have undergone “quantitative metathesis”, in which the η becomes a short ε and the ο becomes a long ω (*Fορα > ηFορα > ηορα > ἑώρων). Not sure I totally get the second option. Where does the ων come from at the end there? Anyway, this does not bode well for the next 6 pages of translation that are ahead of me on this first exercise.

The next words are ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα. The footnote says ὀραω and θεάομαι are similar so I guess it’s a deponent verb a bit like “to see” and looking it up it means “behold”. In English the word behold has more of a sense of gazing and being impacted by something.

Anyway, that’s over an hour on 13 words. Talk about a snail’s pace.

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