Wairþan — ain waurd bruk

Let’s look at this very used and useful Gothic word. Its meaning is pretty clear. From corresponding words in Latin and Sanskrit, we get the meaning to turn, and in analogy with the English word, wairþan is used in expressions like “turn into X”. It is still used in many Germanic languages in one form or another. For example Svensk Etymologisk Ordbok mentioned that the Scanian expression ʋuren (how something turns out relative to expectations) is a form of the perfect participle.

Common uses are:
1. to become

Ïbai jah jus wileiþ þamma siponjos wairþan? — John 9:27.
If even you want his disciples to become(?)

blindai ussaiƕand, jah haltai gaggand — Matthew 11:5.
blind see, and lame walk
Great, but how do we say leprous encleanify? We don’t. Like in English we rewrite it with a helping verb — namely wairþan:
blindai ussaiƕand, jah haltai gaggand, þrutsfillai hrainjai wairþand

2. to describe stochastic outcomes, mainly nature

Wegs mikils warþ ïn marein, swaswe þata skip gahuliþ wairþan fram wegim — Matthew 8:24.
Wave high there was at sea, so the ship covered to be(come) by waves

Another example of this use is the fixed expression warþ þan which is very useful for story telling. It occurs 15 times in the gospels:

Ref W&H R&P SyP Sinaitic palimp.
Matthew 7:28 και εγενετο και εγενετο ܘܗܘܐ ܕܟܕ ܘܟܕ
Luke 1:8 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܗܘܐ ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ
Luke 1:11 omit omit omit omit
Luke 2:1 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܗܘܐ
Luke 2:6 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܘܗܘܐ ܕܟܕ ܘܟܕ
Luke 3:21 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܟܕ
Luke 6:6 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ non ext.
Luke 8:22 εγενετο δε και εγενετο ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܗܘܐ
Luke 8:40 εν δε εγενετο δε omit ܘܟܕ
Luke 9:37 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܘܗܘܐ ܘܟܗܘ
Luke 9:51 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܘܗܘܐ ܕܟܕ ܘܟܕ
Luke 9:57 και εγενετο δε ܘܟܕ ܘܟܕ
Luke 16:22 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܗܘܐ
Luke 18:35 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܘܟܕ ܘܟܕ
(John 10:22) εγενετο τοτε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܗܘܐ ܗܘܐ

The table shows the text of Wescott&Hort’s Alexandrian Greek edition, Robinson & Pierpont’s Byzantine Greek edition, the Eastern Classical Syriac Peshitta and the Old Classical Syriac Sinaitic Palimpsest respectively, in the places where the Gothic version has warþ þan.

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