Re: "OU...ALLA"

Carl W. Conrad (
Mon, 14 Oct 1996 11:06:34 -0500

At 10:41 AM -0500 10/14/96, DENNY A DIEHL wrote:
>Greetings! Denny Diehl here with a question concerning
>In Blass and Debrunner (in paragraph 448 (1) on ALLA)
> (1) OU...ALLA also means 'not so' in
>which the first element is not entirely negated, but only
>toned down: Mk 9:37 "OUK EME DEXETAI, ALLA TOV
>APOSTEILANTA ME," Mt 10:20, Jn 12:44...
>The NASB translates 1 Pet 3:3-4 which has "OU...ALLA" as
> "And let not your adornment be MERELY external--
>braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on
>dress; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the
>imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit..."
>But then 1 Cor 14:33 is:
> "for God is not a God of confusion but of peace..."
>where it seems not to be a comparative, but negation. Is there
>a definitive way to tell when OU...ALLA is a comparative of
>importance and when it is a complete negation?
>I look forward to your answer.

My answer is not likely to be very helpful, but I post it nevertheless. I
don't think that there is anything in the construction itself that clearly
betokens this distinction unless, of course, there's MALLON with the
second item in the comparison--and I'm not sure even that would be
absolutely decisive. It seems to me to be rather like the (American)
English usage of "or" which could link mutually exclusive alternatives but
could also mean "and/or." And I would suppose that what the BDF note means
is that the reader has to be on his/her guard against assuming that in
every instance the initial OU(K) is absolutely negating.

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