3

In Deuteronomy 6:5, the Hebrew text reads "and with all your might"(ESV). Most English translations take this as "strength" or "might." The LXX uses a common word for power/strength/might and Mark's Gospel uses a similar Greek that is used far less.

My question is to whether or not there is more to the Hebrew substantive adjective here (מְאֹ֑ד) than just this rare translation of "strength." It is normally translated "very" or "great." Could we understand this to be loving God with all our "veryness," and if so, what does this imply?

2

מְאֹד is typically translated into the LXX by the word σφόδρα. Like מְאֹד, σφόδρα primarily functions as an adverb. Notably, σφόδρα was occasionally used as a substantive (viz., τὸ σφόδρα) equivalent to the abstract noun σφοδρότης.

According to LSJ,1

LSJ, p. 1741, σφόδρα, 5.

The Greek -της suffix is equivalent to the English -ity and -ness suffixes, all forming abstract nouns. Since English doesn’t have a word such as “veryness” or “muchness,” an appropriate synonym would be “intensity.” Hence, Plato in Republic wrote,2

ἰδίῳ αὐτοῦ, ἀλλὰ ὃ μέγιστον καὶ ἰσχυρότατον εἶχεν ἐν αὑτῷ, τούτῳ ἐπωνομάσαμεν: ἐπιθυμητικὸν γὰρ αὐτὸ κεκλήκαμεν διὰ σφοδρότητα τῶν τε περὶ τὴν ἐδωδὴν ἐπιθυμιῶν καὶ πόσιν καὶ ἀφροδίσια καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα τούτοις ἀκόλουθα, καὶ φιλοχρήματον δή, ὅτι διὰ χρημάτων μάλιστα ἀποτελοῦνται

but gave it the name of its chief and strongest element; for we called it the appetitive part because of the intensity of its appetites concerned with food and drink and love and their accompaniments, and likewise the money-loving part, because money is the chief instrument

In Deu. 6:5, we could think of מְאֹד as a word that, while typically functioning as an adverb or adjective, is here used like σφόδρα as a substantive, meaning “intensity.”

Oxford English Dictionary on the word “intensity”:

OED, “intensity,” 1., a.


Footnotes

1 Republic, Book 9, §580e

References

Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; et al. A Greek-English Lexicon. 9th ed. with revised supplement. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996.

Oxford English Dictionary online.

Plato (Πλάτων). Platonis Opera. Ed. Burnet, John. Vol. 4. Oxonii: E Typographeo Clarendoniano, 1903.

Plato. Plato in Twelve Volumes. Trans. Shorey, Paul. Vol. 6. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1969.

  • Correct, the grammatical usage is key to the meaning here. – Perry Webb Oct 27 at 18:01
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Re: veryness, מאד has a sense of exclusivity from the use of the initial מ. Consider as a prefix with an implied meaning of “from”. As in, it is “very” ‘ ‘from’ others by comparison. טוב מאד is very good compared to or discriminated from good. So that מאדיך could be everything else left over above and beyond your heart. Once you’ve given all your heart to God what is left is the pure strength of the bodies of our being.

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