Re: Jn 14:9

Carl W. Conrad (
Sat, 24 Aug 1996 09:17:31 -0500

At 11:58 PM -0500 8/23/96, wrote:
>Here is a follow-up to Carl's observations on TOSOUTWi CRONWi in Jn 14:9. I
>ran a TLG search and got some interesting results. The same phrase occurs
>several times in late authors, notably Epictetus (1-2 C.E.) who uses a
>virtually identical construction to Jesus' more than once. But more interes-
>ting is a citation from Demosthene's In Aphobum 1, sec. 28. I will give a
>rather literal translation: But how is it not terrible if to us, besides
>nothing having come to our benefit from them, even the pledges themselves
>have been lost, we who did business before, while to him, who made the loan
>with respect to our assets and did so (at) so great a period of time, both
>the principle and the interest has been repaid....
>It seems clear from this and the other citations mentioned that the force of
>TOSOUTWi CRONWi is to mark a point in time after a considerable period of
>elapsed time, almost the same as the dative of extent with comparative ad-
>jectives; or to put it another way, one can almost add the word "after". Also,
>the examples I saw were trying to make a point about the passage of time.
>Two of the examples from Epictetus say something like "Who has known you for
>a longer time than you yourself?", and in both Demosthenes' and Jesus' words
>there is a sense of frustration or consternation. Jesus (as John translates
>him?) would be saying something more like, "After so long a time that I have
>been with you, do you still not recognize me?" The difference between this and
>the accusative is subtle, to be sure, but it seems to be present. I should
>however, that I have not looked at any commentaries yet and may only be re-
>stating what someone else has already said. In any case, I think that we can
>dismiss this construction as a solecism, and probably even as something con-
>fined to later Greek. At the same time, it does cast a new light on the
>textual problem that Carl noted. Most would assume that TOSOUTWi CRONWi is
>the harder reading and therefore preferable to the accusative form, which is
>attested in some very good manuscripts (that's what I thought at first). Now
>I wonder whether the dative is still somewhat harder, or if the issue is a
>wash, suggesting that we take a closer look at the MS evidence.
>P.S. In rereading my post above, let me clarify that I mean the dative is
>*not* a solecism, nor is it limited to late Greek.

I appreciate your work very much, Don--even your qualification that it is
the result of a quick search. It would appear then that this phraseology
originated as an instrumental dative of "degree of difference" used with an
adverbial expression of difference which later came to be omitted. This
would be comparable to the common NT usage of the articular infinitive in
the genitive case, originally dependent upon an explicit hENEKA or XARIN,
but coming to be used without any dependence upon another word.

What I find interesting about the variants in Jn 14:9 is that (assuming
that TOSOUTWi XRONWi is really the earlier/original reading) at least one
copyist thought it was "bad grammar" and corrected it to TOSOUTON XRONON.
I'm a tiro at TC, but I'm sure this is a major source of variants: copyists
"correcting" the supposed "errors" in their models.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR