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Notes on the Use of the Word 'ARNA'

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  • Mike Grondin
    I ve been thinking off and on the past five months on the use in Coptic writings of the Greek loan-word ARNA . It first popped up because of its use in the JW
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2013
      I've been thinking off and on the past five months on the use in Coptic
      writings of the Greek loan-word 'ARNA'. It first popped up because of
      its use in the JW (Jesus' Wife) fragment. Having basically accepted the
      forgery hypothesis, I wondered why the forger had used it. It does occur
      I had translated it as 'abdicate'. I now think that's a mistake, but be that as
      it may, is that the way the alleged forger understood it? If so, why did he
      choose that particular word? (Don't look for an answer to this question
      below, because I never did come up with one.)
      The second factor that piqued my interest in the word ARNA was the
      attempt by a correspondent to logically join ARNA with the name MARIAM
      that immediately follows it in the fragment. My correspondent wanted to
      claim that what was intended was something like "the disciples denied
      (ARNA) that Mariam was worthy of it" [whatever 'it' is]. Now the King
      team had considered this possibility and rejected it, on the grounds that
      if that was what was intended, the name MARIAM would have been
      preceded by a direct-object marker (in this case, 'M'), which it wasn't.
      They concluded that it was intended that ARNA be the end of the previous
      sentence. This is possible because ARNA can be transitive or intransitive
      (i.e., have a direct object or not). Both of these possibilities can be seen
      in CGT, where in L110, the word is transitive, in L81.2, not.
      It was in fact this grammatical duality of ARNA that had led me, some
      twenty years ago or so, when I was working on the word-by-word version
      of CGT, to decide on 'abdicate'. As I mentioned above, though, I now
      think that was a wrong decision. The three translations of CGT on my website
      all have 'renounce', while in the Sahidic NT, the occurrences of ARNA are
      pretty uniformly translated (at least in the KJV) as 'deny'. Checking the
      Greek word ARNEOMAI, from which ARNA came, I find 'deny, disown,
      refuse.' Nary an 'abdicate' anywhere. So while 'abdicate' has the nicety of
      being complete in itself when ARNA has no direct object, it doesn't really
      capture the general sense of ARNA, so it's most probably better to conform
      to the widely-accepted practice of furnishing a dummy direct-object in the
      form of '(it)' whenever ARNA doesn't actually have a direct object.
      The question that bothered me most, though - and which pushed me to the
      extreme measure of doing some actual work! (research the Sahidic NT, in this
      case) - was whether ARNA was or was not used in constructions of the form
      'X denied that P'  (where P is a proposition). For example, was it grammatically
      acceptable in Coptic, as my correspondent assumed, to write 'X denied that
      Mary was worthy'? And if, so, how would it have been written? (An 'xe' e.g.?)
      The short answer is that I was unable to find an example of the suggested
      construction in the Sahidic NT. Admittedly, I didn't look at all the letters
      of Paul, but I did check Romans, in addition to the gospels, Acts, and Rev.
      There were cases of ARNA both with and without a direct object, but no
      cases of the type I was looking for. True, a person is sometimes said to
      deny a proposition, but the statement of the proposition comes earlier,
      before the ARNA clause. The ARNA clause merely says that the person
      denied (it), the 'it' being the proposition. So it appears that my hopeful
      correspondent was on the wrong track. My rough (often indecipherable)
      list of NT occurrences of ARNA is appended below, but this is the end
      of the accompanying narrative, so proceed only at your own risk.
      Mike Grondin
      Mt. Clemens, MI
      Jn 1.20: (JB) didn't deny? (MpF-arna = Mpef-arna)(interesting case)
      Mt. 10:33: whoever denies me before men, I will deny him before my father
      (petna-aparna ... mmoi,  ti-na-aparna Mmoy)
      Lk 12.9: (petna-arna ... mmoi, ce-na-arna Mmoy)(not in Mk or Jn)
      Mt 16.24: if anyone will follow me, let him deny himself (marey-aparna mmoy)
      Mk 8.34:  (maref-arna Mmof)(Lk 9.23)(not in Jn)
      Mt 26.34: before the cock crows, you'll deny me thrice (k-na-aparna Mmoi)(Mk 14.30)
      Lk 22.34: (Wan-tK-aparna mmoi)
      Jn 13.38: (emp[e]k-aparna mmoi)
      Mt 26.35: I won't deny you (Nti-na-aparna Mmok)
      Mk 14.31: Nti-na-arna Mmok)(not in Lk or Jn)
      Mt 26.70: he denied openly (ay-arna M-pe-Mto ebol)(Mk 14.68)
      Lk 22.57: (ay-arna)  Jn 18.25: a ph arna (?)
      Mt 26.72: again he denied, with an oath (ay-arna)(Mk 14.70)(Jn 18.27)
      (Lk doesn't use arna for 2nd denial)
      Mt 26.75: you'll deny me three times (k-na-aparna Mmoi)(Mk 14.72)(Lk 22.61)(not in Jn)
      Acts 3.13, 14: you denied him (atetN-arna Mmoy)
      Acts 4.16: [a miracle has been done and] we can't deny [it] (not poss for us e-arna to deny)
      Acts 7.35: this is Moses whom they denied him (Ntau-arna Mmoy)
      Rev 2.13: you haven't denied my faith (Mpek-arna N-ta-pistis)
      Rev 3.8: you haven't denied my name (Mpek-arna M-pa-ran)
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