Re: Re Conditional sentences

Carlton L. Winbery (
Fri, 10 May 1996 17:03:46 +0400

Michael Holmes wrote;
>Like Don, I have appreciated very much the discussion of conditional
>sentences. Don here raises the matter of translation of them, and I am
>curious to learn what list members would do in a case like Luke/Mat 4:3, "if
>you are the son of God ...". In my experience, virtually every English-only
>reader thinks that the tempter is challenging the *identity* of Jesus,
>whereas it seems almost certain that what is being challenged is his
>*character* (cf., e.g., Fitzmyer on Luke)--i.e., the only reason the tempter
>bothers to tempt this particular individual is precisely because he is "son
>of God," and he wishes to learn what kind of son he will prove to be. In
>this case, in view of the limited means in English to deal with conditional
>sentences (limited, at least, vis-a-vis Greek), doesn't it "inadvertantly
>confuse the context" to translate EI as "if"? Would not "since" be truer to
>the intent of the text?

I would agree that what Fitzmyer says about Luke is even more true of Matt.
4:3. I think that the real question in Matt is what kind of Messiah. Even
Satan could not say something in his presence about him that was not true.
As understood by the writer and readers, Satan would know who he was as
surely as the demons later knew who he was.

Carlton L. Winbery
Fogleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College