The Joy of Papyri

One of the difficulties of moving out of a world entirely concerned with NT Greek and into Koine Greek is the necessary readjustment of vocabulary. I’m currently reading selection 202 in the Select Papyri Loeb volume (though a fuller version can be found here). It’s a document about penalties for assault. Words like τιμάω and δικ- root words take on different nuances and glosses, which, though kindof fun, is also a little frustrating, because I know those words! At least I knew them in the context of common NT usage. τιμάω, for example, often means "I honor" or something similar. However, in a legal context it can mean something like "estimate the amount of pnushment." Wow. That’s quite a divergence. But, next time I run into the word I’ll have more to think about when translating.

Another fun thing is mispelings. The second word listed in the Loeb portion is ἐπαντάσεως, though it should be ἐπανατάσεως. I won’t tell you how long I looked for this word. Of course, the verb form of this root comes just a few words later, which would have given me a clue if I looked ahead.

And finally, strange idiom. This is the paragraph I just translated (note the lack of iota subscript):

Δούλωι ἐλεύθερον πατάξαντι. ἐὰν ὁ δοῦλος ἢ ἡ δούλη πατάξηι τὸν ἐλεύθερον ἢ τὴν ἐλευθέραν, μαστιγούσθω μὴ ἔλασσον ρ πληγῶν ἢ τὴν ζημίαν διπλασίαν ἀποτεισάτω ὁ δεσπότης ὑπὲρ τοῦ δούλου ἢ ἣν τὸν ἐλεύθερον γέγραπται ἀποτεῖσαι, ἐὰν ὁμολογῆι. ἐὰν δὲ ἀμφισβητῆι γραφέσθω μιᾶς πληγῆς δίκην ρ δραχμῶν, ἐὰν δὲ ὄφληι, τριπλοῦν ἀτίμητον ἀποτεισάτω, περὶ δὲ πλειόνων πληγῶν τιμησάμενος δικασάσθω, ὅ τι δ’ ἂν τὸ δικαστήριον τιμήσηι, τοῦτο τριπλοῦν ἀποτεισάτω.

The phrase I find particularly strange is "ἐὰν δὲ ἀμφισβητῆι γραφέσθω μιᾶς πληγῆς δίκην ρ δραχμῶν". Maybe I’ll "get it" when I’ve spent more time in papyric legal terminology. We’ll see.

Ah, the joy of papyri!