Greek translation help, please...

Is there a Doper who knows Greek by any chance?

The words I am looking at are “parthanon” and “parthenou.”

I know that “parthenos” means virgin. I’m wondering if these are alternate versions of the same word, or something different. For reference, they appear in the Septuagint at Genesis 34:3.

Thanks for your help.

Zev Steinhardt

Parthenou == genitive singular – that is, “of the virgin/maiden/young girl.”

I’ve never seen “parthanon” before, but parthenon is the accusative singular of parthenos – used when the word is a direct object or an object of some prepositions (a few other uses too, but those are the main ones). Parthanon could be some alternate form of parthenon; bear in mind that I have only taken Greek for a year and a half, and so I’ve seen very few of the less common alternate forms that are floating around. If it doesn’t look like that works for you, I can ask my Greek teacher on January 3, when I return to school.

Hmm, looking up the verse here – – they have “parthenon,” which is most definitely the accusative singular of parthenos.

Took a year of modern Greek senior year at GU, and I’m still armed with a dictionary and my grammar books.

The dictioary (Oxford Greek-English) lists two words: parthena a feminine noun meaning “virgin, maiden” and parthenos, an adjective meaning “virgin, pure, unspoilt”.

The forms you list are genitive singular (parthenou) and plural (parthenon)[sup]*[/sup] forms of the masculine adjective. Hence you’re dealing with parthenos, which means it’s probably describing some other noun in the sentence. Contrary to what SDP asserts, the accusative masculine singular does not take -n as an ending. That form would be partheno.

[sup]*[/sup]It should be noted that the -on ending is genitive plural for all genders of nouns and adjectives.

Of course, I’m assuming that you’re reading the Septuagint in Modern Greek as opposed to Demotic Greek, so YMMV.

I was reading it from this site (transliterated) and the site that SDP quoted.

Zev Steinhardt

On a side note, the Greek temple atop the Acropolis, the Parthenon, is spelled subtly differently. The word for virgin ends with an omicron (short o) - nu, but the building ends with an omega (long o) - nu. Just a little factoid to impress your friends.


Thank you Maeglin. I had been wondering about that, but didn’t want to bring it up and cloud the issue. :slight_smile:

Zev Steinhardt

Ugh, who thought up that system?! Methinks it would have been simpler just to put it up in the original alphabet and add a primer on the phonetic values.

I know. The first thing I thought when I saw it was “Hey, Klingon!” :slight_smile:

Zev Steinhardt

It is in ancient Greek. The ancient Greek accusative singular second declension ends in n. In ancient Greek, parthenos, though it means young girl/maiden/virgin, is a second declension noun (Most second declension nouns are masculine or neuter. Parthenos is feminine). Modern Greek is a whole 'nother ballgame, and I know nothing about it, but fortunately for me, we’re not dealing with it here. :slight_smile:

That would be fine, but not everyone has access to a decent Greek font. Sure, a simple internet search will reveal that you can download one from one of a dozen quality sites…

I never use transliterated sites unless I simply must.


So it occurred to me that I should post something more productive. You can find Greek fonts as well as a marvelous online Greek (and Latin) lexicon at the Perseus Site. It was indispensable to me when I was school.


Maeglin, SDP, Olentzero,

I thank you guys for your help. Unfortunately, I don’t know what “accusative singular second declension,” "accusative singular " and “genitive singular” are.

Bottom line: Are the words in Genesis 34:3 being translated as “virgin” by the author of the Septuagint?

Zev Steinhardt

The New American Standard Bible’s literal translation, from

I personally agree with their translation, and it looks literal to me, but coming from someone who’s had only a year and a half (so far) of high school-level Greek, that’s not saying much.

Parthenos can certainly mean virgin, but maiden and young girl are also commonly given definitions. I don’t have my Greek-English lexicon at home with me, so I’m not sure if there are any other tangentially related similar meanings. In short, in my inexperienced eyes, and those of the translator of the New American Standard Bible (my Greek teacher says this is one of the more literal editions, which is why I used their translation), it probably just means girl.

And there we go. Wasn’t exactly clear what form of Greek you studied, nor was it clear whether zev was reading the Septuagint in modern or ancient Greek.

zev - Bottom line, yes, parthenos, parthenon, and parthenou are all the same word - Greek declines its nouns according to whether said noun is acting, being acted upon, or possessing. More than likely, as SDP asserts, the translation of ‘girl’ or ‘maiden’ would work nicely in this situation.

Well, all this relates to Isaiah 7:14. There is a word in the original Hebrew, “almah.” Almah is translated by Jews as “young woman.”

The Sept. gives the word “parthenos” as the translation of “almah.”

I questioned whether the authors of the Sept. meant “virgin” when they used “parthenos.” It seems that they used the same word to describe a girl in the Genesis verse I mentioned who was definitely not a virgin.

So, while now “parthenos” means virgin, I wonder if it did so to whomever translated Isaiah into Greek lo many years ago.

Zev Steinhardt

The word’s translation all depends on its context (and the translator’s personal feelings about it, I suppose). It’s the same with the English word maiden – it can mean “virgin,” but it can also mean “unmarried girl,” not to mention the meanings pertaining to the guillotine and horses who have never won a race (from and For what it’s worth, looking up Isaiah 7:14 in the same Bible I mentioned earlier, they give “virgin” and then footnote “[o]r maiden.” Certainly makes some sense for the folks of Christian bent to favor the “virgin” translation, though I see no reason to favor it over “maiden” aside from supposed subsequent events. :wink:

I see you beat me to it, zev. :smiley:

It sounds like “parthenos”, means “maiden”, as in the medieval sense of “young unmarried girl, (assumed to be a) virgin”, whereas “almah” means “young unmarried girl- who being unmarried, should be a virgin”. Ie, that Matthews use of “parthenos”, as he was working from the best Greek translation available (Septuagint) is certainly reasonable, and that the word “almah/parthenos” certainly indicates, but does not absolutely demand a “virgin intactos”. Thus, reasonable folks could translate it either way- but in this context (Is 7), it likely meant= “A young, umarried girl, who we are assumeing to be not sexually active”.

What irritates me is all these “Bible De-bunking” books & cites, which just say that “almah= young girl”, and thus “poor old stupid Matthew” either could not translate the word properly, or deliberately MIS-translated the word.


I was wondering when you’d show up, Daniel. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure that "almah’ even means an unmarried, non-sexually active girl. Jewish commentaries point this verse to mean Ahaz’s son or Isaiah’s son. Either way, the mother of the child was already married and sexually active (the tense of the verb “harah” is past – she’s already pregnant).

I don’t know about that one way or the other, but I always had difficulty with the Christian claim to this verse in that there is nothing in the paragraph to indicate that this verse should be messianic in nature. It’s as if Matthew lifted the verse right out of the chapter without considering the surrounding context.

It’s almost as if I looked at Isaiah 11:6 and said that if I owned a sheep I’d be the messiah. The verse says “And a wolf (Zev is wolf in Hebrew) will reside with sheep…” This verse is clearly messianic. Could it be that I’m the messiah? No, because the context of the verse clearly shows that these things will happen when the messiah comes; it’s not a description of the messiah himself. All the more so in the case of 7:14 where the context is not messianic at all.

Zev Steinhardt