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The antecedent of this personal pronoun in John 7:17?

Posted: March 17th, 2018, 4:56 am
by PhillipLebsack
John 7:17 ἐάν τις θέλῃ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ ποιεῖν, γνώσεται περὶ τῆς διδαχῆς πότερον ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν ἢ ἐγὼ ἀπ’ ἐμαυτοῦ λαλῶ.

So, I know already what the response to this question would be. It would be something along the lines of "the context suggests αὐτοῦ refers to τοῦ πέμψαντός με (previous verse) or to God."

I agree in that it seems like that. But it looks like αὐτοῦ could also be referring to τις mentioned earlier in the same verse...

My question is, even though it is more likely referring to τοῦ πέμψαντός με, or God, do we know for certain that this is what it is referring to? It is subjective? Is there a chance that αὐτοῦ is referring to τις? Or if not τις, than something else?

If it isn't subjective, how can we be 100% certain that αὐτοῦ is referring to τοῦ πέμψαντός με, or God? Is there any objective way of arguing for it?

Re: The antecedent of this personal pronoun in John 7:17?

Posted: March 17th, 2018, 4:40 pm
by MAubrey
Texts are based on the building up of shared information between participants. As they progress, they rely heavily that information. It's easiest when a speaker chooses one thing at a time for a text to be "about" in order to make sure that the audience is able tract the flow. Pronouns are a meaning of efficiently referencing objects and participants that have already been introduced. A speaker use of a pronouns is based on the assumption that its referent ought to be obvious to the listener. That is not always the case, but it works most of the time and as a result, communication is more efficient.

Note that in the above paragraph, the second sentence has two instances of 'they'. How you do know that the first 'they' refers to "texts" rather than "participants"? You do know it, intuitively. First of all, the first sentence isn't about "participants." It's about "texts". That's a good clue. Secondly, you know from experience--information that I as the author assumed you already had, that texts have length; they can *progress*. Of course, participants have the ability to move, and thus progress, also, but the first sentence primes you as a reader to default to texts because I have already referred to texts as dynamic in another way: "the building up of shared information."

What about the second "they"? How do you know that it continues to refer to "texts"? For the very simple reasons that I, as an author, have done nothing to signal that any change in the topic, what the sentence is "about", has changed.

It's the same with John 7:17. The choice of τις, an indefinite, as the subject of the sentence is precisely to downplay that participant's importance, communicating that the sentence continues to be "about" τοῦ πέμψαντός με.

Re: The antecedent of this personal pronoun in John 7:17?

Posted: March 17th, 2018, 5:32 pm
by Mark Lightman
ὦ χαῖρε, φίλε Φίλιππε!
PhillipLebsack wrote:
March 17th, 2018, 4:56 am
John 7:17 ἐάν τις θέλῃ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ ποιεῖν, γνώσεται περὶ τῆς διδαχῆς πότερον ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν ἢ ἐγὼ ἀπ’ ἐμαυτοῦ λαλῶ.

....Is there a chance that αὐτοῦ is referring to τις?

τὸ «ἐάν τις θέλῃ τὸ θέλημα ἑαυτοῦ ποιεῖν...» οὐ γέγραπται.

ἔρρωσο.

Μᾶρκος