Why is Ancient Greek "δέ" translated by Gothic "þan" /then/?

Matthew 8:10

— gahausjands þan Iesus sildaleikida jah qaþ du þaim afarlaistjandam: amen, qiþa izwis, ni in Israela swalauda galaubein bigat.
— ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ ἰησοῦς ἐθαύμασεν καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς ἀκολουθοῦσιν, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, παρ' οὐδενὶ τοσαύτην πίστιν ἐν τῷ ἰσραὴλ εὗρον.
When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Matthew 8:18

— gasaihvands þan Iesus managans hiuhmans bi sik, haihait galeiþan siponjans hindar marein.
— ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ ἰησοῦς ὄχλον περὶ αὐτὸν ἐκέλευσεν ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὸ πέραν.
— Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.

Matthew 9:8

— gasaihvandeins þan manageins ohtedun sildaleikjandans jah mikilidedun guþ þana gibandan waldufni swaleikata mannam.
— ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ ὄχλοι ἐφοβήθησαν καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν θεὸν τὸν δόντα ἐξουσίαν τοιαύτην τοῖς ἀνθρώποις.
— But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

Matthew 9:28

— Qimandin þan in garda duatiddjedun imma þai blindans jah qaþ im Iesus: ga~u~laubjats þatei magjau þata taujan? Qeþun du imma: jai, frauja!
— ἐλθόντι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ τυφλοί, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ ἰησοῦς, πιστεύετε ὅτι δύναμαι τοῦτο ποιῆσαι; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ, ναί, κύριε.
— And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.

  • If you compare gothic and greek, it would be an anachronism to compare modern english, which surely has fair bits of influence from old english or middle english bible translation traditions as well as influence from late to medievil latin. It would not be an anachronism to see them all compared, though, comparing which surely also has a tradition. So, good Q – vectory Oct 22 at 17:11

It is because the grammar and syntax of the Modern English is very different from the ancient Gothic and Greek. While Gothic translates the Greek text pretty word-for-word and uses the same grammar forms as Greek, and the same syntactic structures as Greek (Gothic obviously borrowed the latter from Greek), English, while lacking such forms and structures, paraphrases them greatly, still keeping the overall idea of the text.

The verb form which stands at the very beginning of each Gothic and Greek sentence (gahausjands, ἀκούσας of the first fragment) is in fact not the Present Tense Active Voice form meaning heard as we have it in English. Those are Aorist Active Participles of Masculine Gender and Nominative case, something like Russian слышавший (approx. 'being him who have heard'), and the following þan and δὲ mean 'however, but, and, now' (Russian же, а).

English has no means to connect the ideas of Past, Active, and Participle in one verb form, so English has the two words:

gasaihvands þan Iesus managans hiuhmans...

as three words:

Now when Jesus saw great multitudes...

However Russian, which has verb forms very close to the Greek and Gothic ones, can put it in two words:

Видевший же Иисус вокруг Себя множество народа...

  • Where did you get a Russian translation ? old.bibleonline.ru/bible/rus/40/08/#18 I am not asking about English. – Николай Фёдоров Oct 20 at 17:05
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    @НиколайФёдоров from what I understand, Yellow Sky is mentioning English to show that, unlike it, Greek and Gothic have similar grammar in this type of sentence, making þan a natural translation whereas in English, then would not be. – LjL Oct 20 at 17:20
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    @НиколайФёдоров - It's the Russian Orthodox Church Slavonic Translation which I slightly modified to correspond to the grammar matter you asked about. I changed увидев to видевший, because in Matth.8:28 where the construction is the same, И пришедшу ему in the Synodal translation is И когда Он прибыл. You can see that even modern Russian prefers когда to же, because otherwise it would sound too archaic. – Yellow Sky Oct 20 at 18:16
  • "you can see that even modern Russian prefers когда to же" because the New Testament of the Russian Synodal Bible is based on the Greek editions (not Ancient Greek) – Николай Фёдоров Oct 20 at 18:27
  • I would prefer the Ostrog Bible (spsl.nsc.ru/rbook/…) for this purpose – Николай Фёдоров Oct 20 at 18:37

I am compelled to point out that, contrary to Yellow Sky's claim, English does have a way to express quite accurately the original Greek participles in many cases, which would be understood by almost all native English speakers:

ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ ἰησοῦς ἐθαύμασεν καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς ...
But Jesus, having heard [it], marvelled and said to ...

ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ ἰησοῦς ὄχλον περὶ αὐτὸν ...
But Jesus, having seen the crowd around him, ...

Such usage of the English participle is very clearly attested in existing translations of these texts, even if not used consistently throughout. For example Matt 2:9 is rendered by both the ASV and an English translation of Darby's French translation using the exact same kind of construction I have used above. (Note that the ASV and Darby's are the two best literal translations I have seen so far.) Furthermore, the translation you yourself quoted of Matt 9:28 (it seems from the KJV) uses the even more archaic participial construction "was come", where "come" here is in fact the past participle!

  • Of course, one should also know that "δε" is never put in front, unlike "but" in English, and that is why the Greek participle is fronted. – user21820 Oct 21 at 6:52

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