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I've been chasing the concept of Logos around the text and was drawn into Psalm 33:6 where we have:

Psalm 33:6 (NRSV), By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth.

In the Septuagint, "the word" is rendered as "τω λόγω" and from what I can read of the declension of the word logos, this is not singular or plural, but "dual" (Nominative or Accusative).

Clearly this could have relevance to understanding the prologue of John, but to just stick to this verse: what does it mean that the word of god is rendered in dual form here.

Wouldn't the LXX be appropriately translated: "the two words of God..."

Or is this just the dative case (without the markings below the omegas) rendering "τω λόγω" as "to/for the word of the lord.." Dative indicating the indirect object. The LXX seems to lack a preposition including the word "through/with" at the beginning of the verse in hebrew (e.g. בדבר)

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    In Koine Greek and Modern Greek, the only remnant of the dual is the numeral for "two", δύο, dýo, which has lost its genitive and dative cases (both δυοῖν, dyoīn) and retains its nominative/accusative form. See an informative article on Wikipedia - Dual (Grammatical) Number. Up-voted +1 as a relevant feature of Koine Greek.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 25 at 16:10
  • I don't see this as being a reference to 'the logos'. I see this as God's word of mouth. 'By the word' in the Hebrew language (as per your e.g.), according to the interlinear is - Preb-b/N-msc (Preposition-b/Noun-masculine singular construct) and unlike the following Hebrew word - (of) Yahweh - we are not talking 'proper' noun here. I think the LXX is using the 'Dative' tense in describing the indirect object to the subject Yahweh, which would explain why the LXX has no use for the preposition "through/with". Jun 25 at 17:14
  • Τῷ λόγῳ is singular dative.
    – fev
    Jun 25 at 20:27
  • Here's another question you can ask. ר֥וּחַ (breath) in this verse is also the Hebrew word for Spirit.
    – Perry Webb
    Jun 25 at 22:31
  • What reference gave you the idea that dabar is dual in this verse?
    – Perry Webb
    Jun 25 at 23:14
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Τῷ λόγῳ is masculine singular dative. In Koine, there is such a thing as instrumental Dative.

In Classical Greek, the dative case is used as the instrumental case. This can be seen in the sentence "..με κτείνει δόλῳ," or "..me ktenei dolôi" (Book IX, line 407 of the Odyssey), which means "he kills me with a bait". Here, "δόλῳ," the dative of "δόλος" ("dolos" – a bait) is used as the instrumental case (the means or instrument here is, obviously, the bait).

It is translated using such prepositions as through, by, with.

Here is another case

2 Corinthians 8:9 - ἵνα ὑμεῖς τῇ ἐκείνου πτωχείᾳ πλουτήσητε = that ye through his poverty might be rich. (here the noun is feminine in Dative singular).

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Hebrew of Ps 33:6

First, the Hebrew text says: בִּדְבַ֣ר = "by the Word" = preposition + noun noun masculine singular construct

Greek LXX of Ps 33:6 (actually numbered Ps 32 in LXX).

The LXX text is τῷ λόγῳ = "by the Word" = article + noun both in singular dative case.

Thus, the Greek appears to be a faithful translation of the Hebrew text - both clearly in the singular. While the Hebrew has a dual number for nouns, Koine Greek has lost the dual which existed only in classical forms of the ancient Greek.

Further, all English versions also correctly render the translations of the Hebrew in the singular. The LXX translation here >> https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/septuagint/chapter.asp?book=24&page=32 also correctly renders the text in the singular.

The OP's link is to the ancient Attic Greek which has different declensions from the Koine Greek of the LXX and NT.

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  • I can't argue with what you have pointed out here but I feel my comment above (given before any answers) goes further as far as enlightening the OP on the true meaning of 'By the word', unless of course I, myself, misunderstood what seemed to be a penchant for THE LOGOS, as in John 1:1. He does after all make reference to the prologue of John. Jun 25 at 22:54
  • @OldeEnglish - the primary questions was about the duality or otherwise. The identity is another matter and might be the subject of a separate question.
    – Dottard
    Jun 26 at 3:27
  • With all due respect, the primary question to me is in the OP's first sentence:-"I've been chasing the concept (general notion) of Logos...." and I commented as to that and also came down on the side of 'otherwise', i.e. Dative case. Jun 26 at 13:42
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I agree with fev and Dottard's answers. Here I provide an actual example from John to support their arguments.

John 2:22 English Standard Version

When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

the
τῷ (tō)
Article - Dative Masculine Singular
Strong's 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

word
λόγῳ (logō)
Noun - Dative Masculine Singular
Strong's 3056: From lego; something said; by implication, a topic, also reasoning or motive; by extension, a computation; specially, the Divine Expression.

OP: The LXX seems to lack a preposition including the word "through/with" at the beginning of the verse in hebrew

Right. The preposition is implicit in the Koine dative.

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  • I have shown that even I agree with all three answers, but all three of you miss the further implication of the OP, and the preposition is 'by' which needs no implication. Jun 26 at 15:58
  • Point that to the OP and see what he thinks.
    – Tony Chan
    Jun 26 at 16:05
  • I already have, in my initial comment to the OP himself but so far his silence is deafening. Jun 26 at 16:22
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Nobody has done it yet, so I will.

Herebelow I have put, side by side, in three columns, the text in Hebrew of Psalm 33:6 (HEB), followed by the (word for word) LXX Greek translation (32:6). In the 3rd column I have put a word for word English translation:

| HEB | LXX | ENG |
| === | ===| === |
| בִּדְבַ֣ר | τῷ λόγῳ | by the word |
| יְ֭הוָה | τοῦ κυρίου | of-the-Lord |
| שָׁמַ֣יִם| οἱ οὐρανοὶ | heavens |
| נַעֲשׂ֑וּ| ἐστερεώθησαν | were made|
| וּבְר֥וּחַ| καὶ τῷ πνεύματι| and by the breath|
| פִּ֝֗יו| τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ| of his mouth|
| כָּל־צְבָאָֽם| πᾶσα ἡ δύναμις αὐτῶν| all-the-host-of-them|

The highlighted words are דְבַ֣ר/λόγος/word and רוּחַ/πνεῦμα/breath-spirit.

Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (+ c. 202 AD) took up this image of the Word/Logos/Dabar an of the Spirit/Pneuma/Ruwach as the two arms (or hands) of God over and over. Here is just an example:

And, since God is rational [logikos], therefore by (the) Word [Logos] He created the things that were made; and God is Spirit [Pneuma], and by (the) Spirit He adorned all things: as also the prophet says: By the word of the Lord were the heavens established, and by his spirit all their power.[Ps 33:6 (32:6 LXX)]" (Irenaeus, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, §5)

Irenaeus doesn't mention it, but the image of the "arms" of God comes from Deuteronomy:

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. (Deut 33:27)

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  • I'm confused. Knowing you to be a non-trinitarian, why are you 'seemingly' promoting the trinitarian concept. In Psalm 33:6, the Hebrew for "By the word" is made up of: Preposition-b (By); masculine/singular construct, article (the); masculine/singular construct, [regular] noun (word), and being the 'indirect object' of the sentence, is in the dative tense. There's no [proper] noun here. The whole psalm talks about the heavens/stars coming about by God's word of mouth and breath, and, as @Tony Chan points out a similar sentence construct can be seen in John 2:22. Jun 27 at 16:07
  • @OldeEnglish - I reassure you that I am not a trinitarian. There are no cases in Hebrew (perhaps you are referring to the Greek), anyway בִּדְבַ֣ר is composed by the preposition בִּ (be “in”, “with”, “by”) and the masculine noun דְבַ֣ר (dabar “word”, “discourse”, “mind”). Of course there is a noun here (in fact two, דְבַ֣ר/λόγος/word and רוּחַ/πνεῦμα/breath-spirit). There in no proper name, though, other than יְ֭הוָה (YHWH). As for John 2:22, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Psalm 33:6. Jun 27 at 18:30
  • I knew I should not have rushed that comment to you. I switched from talking about the Hebrew constructs, to the Greek dative case (not tense) in one sentence. The only proper noun is the subject of the sentence YHWH as you say. John 2:22 most certainly does not have anything to do whatsoever with Psalm 33:6. It was just thrown in there as a similar sentence construct. You and I believe that although the architect of creation was the Almighty all 'actual' creation was done through His 'only begotten' i.e. by the word/logos but 'by the word' in our psalm is used in a different sense...tbc... Jun 28 at 1:10
  • ...When I looked into your link "Demonstration of the Apostolic Teaching", it seems to prove Irenaeus to be of a Trinitarian mind, when he capitalized (the) Word [Logos] and Spirit [Pneuma] and consequently it threw me off, despite him thinking of the two words as the 'arms/hands' of God. Also you, just like the others here, have not thought to address the OP's insinuation that the 'Prologue of John' may be in... "relevance to understanding". Jun 28 at 1:44
  • @OldeEnglish - Difficult to say if Irenaeus was trinitarian in the sense that the expression gradually acquired. I don’t think so. I think that he understood God’s Word and Spirit NOT as two “persons”, in addition to God, the Father Almighty, BUT as two eternal, essential powers (dynameis) of the One and Only God. Jun 28 at 7:15
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Word is singular in Hebrew and all the translations. τῷ λόγῳ is dative singular showing agency which is understood because of the passive verb.

This verse is Hebrew poetry, and the two independent clauses are synonymous parallel. Thus, the second clause restates the first. His mouth (פִּ֝֗יו) is why בְר֥וּחַ translates breath rather than spirit. Thus, the emphasis is "and God said" during creation.

   By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, 
     by the breath of His mouth, all their host. 
        (Psalm 33:6, JPS Tanakh)

 בִּדְבַ֣ר יְ֭הוָה שָׁמַ֣יִם נַעֲשׂ֑וּ
   וּבְר֥וּחַ פִּ֝֗יו כָּל־צְבָאָֽם׃
      (Psalm 33:6, BHS)


 τῷ λόγῳ τοῦ κυρίου οἱ οὐρανοὶ ἐστερεώθησαν† 
      καὶ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ πᾶσα ἡ δύναμις αὐτῶν,
           (Ps 32:6, LXX)

See What does “God said” mean in Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24,26?

Maybe you're interested in this verse:

  So is the word that issues from My mouth: 
  It does not come back to Me unfulfilled, 
  But performs what I purpose, 
  Achieves what I sent it to do. 
     (Isaiah 55:11, JPS Tanakh)

 

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