Monday, July 02, 2007
Self-born, untaught, motherless, unshakeable,George Ewart Bean, Journeys in Northern Lycia 1965-1967 = Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, Denkschriften [DAW], 104. Ergänzungsbände zu den Tituli Asiae Minoris, 4 (Vienna, 1971), prints the relevant portion of this inscription as follows:
Giving place to no name, many-named, dwelling in fire,
Such is God; we are a portion of God, his angels.
This, then, to the questioners about God's nature
The god replied, calling him all-seeing Ether; to him, then, look
And pray at dawn, looking out to the east.
[α]ὐτοφυής, ἀδί-I have not seen Bean's book, but rely on the Packard Humanities Institute's Searchable Greek Inscriptions for my knowledge of it and for the Greek text above.
οὔνομα μὴ χω-
ἐν πυρὶ ναίων.
τοῦτο θεός, μεικρὰ
δὲ θεοῦ μερὶς ἄνγε̣-
λοι̣ ἡμεῖς. τοῦτο πευ-
θομένοισι θεοῦ πέ-
ρι ὅστις ὑπ̣ά̣ρχ̣ε̣ι
[θε]ὸν ἔννεπεν, εἰς
ὃν ὁρῶντας εὔχεσθ’ ἠῴ-
ους πρὸς ἀντολίην ἐσορῶ[ν]-
The phrase ἀδίδακτος, ἀμήτωρ, ἀστυφέλικτος (adidaktos, amētōr, astupheliktos = untaught, motherless, unshakeable) in the inscription is an example of a series of asyndetic, privative adjectives. "Asyndetic" means not joined by conjunctions, and "privative" means altering the meaning of a term from positive to negative, by means of a prefix (e.g. a-, non-, un-) or suffix (e.g. -less).
This rhetorical device is sometimes used to describe God, by specifying what He is not, rather than what He is (the so-called "via negativa," or "negative way"). In the New Testament at Hebrews 7.3 we see this technique:
Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.Note the privative adjective ἀμήτωρ (amētōr = motherless) in Hebrews, which also appears in the inscription from Lycia.
ἀπάτωρ, ἀμήτωρ, ἀγενεαλόγητος, μήτε ἀρχὴν ἡμερῶν μήτε ζωῆς τέλος ἔχων.