John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

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Thomas Dolhanty
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John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 7th, 2014, 2:38 pm

One of my students has asked about the apparent subject-verb mismatch in John 8:40, and I am rather at a loss as to how to explain it. The clause in question is the relative clause: ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα - "who has spoken the truth to you" (John 8:40). The antecedent for ὃς is ἄνθρωπον, and the verb of which ὃς is the subject is λελάληκα. The question is, 'Why is the verb 1st person singular rather than 3rd person singular?'

Because I could find no comment on this verse in the usual sources - BDAG, BDB, Wallace, etc., Johannine commentators like CK Barret, FF Bruce, etc. - and because no alternative readings are suggested in the UBS apparatus, I suspect that there is an underlying rule of Koine somewhere which I am missing. If so, I must confess that it continues to elude me. I do understand that Jesus is ultimately the speaker and that ἄνθρωπον is a reference to himself, but shouldn't the verb still be 3rd person to match the relative pronoun?

I would appreciate it much if someone has some insight on this seeming relative pronoun-verb mismatch in John 8:40.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 7th, 2014, 4:42 pm

Text:
John 8:40 wrote:νῦν δὲ ζητεῖτέ με ἀποκτεῖναι, ἄνθρωπον ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ἣν ἤκουσα παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ· τοῦτο Ἀβραὰμ οὐκ ἐποίησεν.
Relative pronouns don't really have person, so the verb agrees in person with what the context indicates. Here ἄνθρωπον is in apposition to the first person με.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 7th, 2014, 4:42 pm

Adding a little context:
νῦν δὲ ζητεῖτέ με ἀποκτεῖναι, ἄνθρωπον ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ἣν ἤκουσα παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ· τοῦτο Ἀβραὰμ οὐκ ἐποίησεν.
Carl spoke to this back in 2004, and so did Iver, providing more examples. Carl's summary: "The relative pronoun may fit with a first- or second-person pronoun, even if it's most common to find it with third-person nouns and pronouns."

If you think of the pronoun ὃς as a first person pronoun, the agreement problem goes away. ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν λελάληκα = "I who have spoken the truth to you".

Examples:
  • Matthew 6:9 - Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς
  • Rom 2:23 - ὃς ἐν νόμῳ καυχᾶσαι
  • Acts 22:4 - ὃς ταύτην τὴν ὁδὸν ἐδίωξα
As Carl points out, this also happens in English and German:
Here the attributive phrase hO EN TOIS OURANOIS is equivalent to a relative clause, as in the standard English, "who art in Heaven ..." Note the "art"--the archaic second-singular verb; so in German "der Du in Himmel bist ..."
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 7th, 2014, 5:59 pm

Thank you Stephen & Jonathan. I knew that I had encountered the relative pronoun with other-than-third-person verbs in my reading, but I was having a difficult time explaining the grammar to the student. I was not confident enough of the reason for the supposed mismatch to answer this bright first year student.

I'm a bit surprised that this isn't explained a bit more carefully by intro grammars, although I do see now that there is a brief note in Robertson on page 712):
In itself, of course, ὅς, like all relatives, has no person. So the first person in 1 Cor. 15:10, the second person in Ro. 2:23, the third person in Mt. 5:19; Lu. 6:48 f.; 1 Cor. 4:17. These examples may suffice.
Something like
Relative pronouns don't really have person, so the verb agrees in person with what the context indicates.

along with an example or two would be very helpful in the basic description of the relative pronoun.

Thomas
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Re: John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 7th, 2014, 9:31 pm

Thomas.D wrote:I'm a bit surprised that this isn't explained a bit more carefully by intro grammars, although I do see now that there is a brief note in Robertson on page 712):
In itself, of course, ὅς, like all relatives, has no person. So the first person in 1 Cor. 15:10, the second person in Ro. 2:23, the third person in Mt. 5:19; Lu. 6:48 f.; 1 Cor. 4:17. These examples may suffice.
Something like
Relative pronouns don't really have person, so the verb agrees in person with what the context indicates.

along with an example or two would be very helpful in the basic description of the relative pronoun.
Exactly.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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Re: John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

Post by RandallButh » December 8th, 2014, 7:19 am

Thomas.D wrote:...
but I was having a difficult time explaining the grammar to the student. I was not confident enough of the reason for the supposed mismatch to answer this bright first year student.
Don't forget to give the first year student the FIRST UNIVERSAL RULE of Grammar:
"We do it like that because that's the way they do it."

(Of course, that rule is stated as a habitual and does not cover one-time misspokes.)

So what about ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος? English doesn't do "the being one and the came one and the coming one". So 1Chr29:17 ‏וְעַתָּ֗ה עַמְּךָ֙ הַנִּמְצְאוּ־פֹ֔ה רָאִ֥יתִי בְשִׂמְחָ֖ה לְהִֽתְנַדֶּב־לָֽך "the found-here ones", and על ההכין האלהים instead of על [מה] אשר הכין האלהים or Ruth's השבה accented ha-SHAva 'the returned-one', open up new vistas in Hebrew.
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Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 13th, 2014, 4:01 pm

So what about ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος? English doesn't do "the being one and the came one and the coming one". So 1Chr29:17 ‏וְעַתָּ֗ה עַמְּךָ֙ הַנִּמְצְאוּ־פֹ֔ה רָאִ֥יתִי בְשִׂמְחָ֖ה לְהִֽתְנַדֶּב־לָֽך "the found-here ones", and על ההכין האלהים instead of על [מה] אשר הכין האלהים or Ruth's השבה accented ha-SHAva 'the returned-one', open up new vistas in Hebrew.
In all of these (quoted) instances, however, I do not see inconsistencies within the Greek or Hebrew, and I could explain quite readily (I think) the grammar. My problem with the apparent relative pronoun - verb mismatch was that I couldn't explain it because I didn't understand it. If the student is perspicacious enough to note the apparent anomaly and pose the question, then she deserves a clear answer,.
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RandallButh
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Re: John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

Post by RandallButh » December 13th, 2014, 4:19 pm

Great. So explain the examples just quoted.
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Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 13th, 2014, 5:46 pm

Great. So explain the examples just quoted.
Remember, this post was a request for assistance concerning MY understanding – or rather lack thereof – concerning the person of the relative pronoun.

First then, from MY understanding of ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος. The article stands before a finite verb here and this catches our attention. Nevertheless, this does not surprise me as I am a frequent reader of the Greek text of Revelation, and so I am used to encountering mulitple instances of this particular arrangement (Rev 1:8, 4:8, 11:17, 16:5). I am also aware of Wallace’s comment on this:
“The article can turn almost any part of speech into a noun: adverbs, adjectives, prepositional phrases, particles, infinitives, participles, and even finite verbs. As well, the article can turn a phrase into a nominal entity. This incredible flexibil¬ity is part of the genius of the Greek article.” pg 231ff
The 3rd person plural niphal participle הַנִּמְצְאוּ־פֹ֔ה with the maqaf + “here” from 1Chron 29:17 does not surprise me in 1Chron 29:17. So also with 2Ch 29:36 (עַ֛ל הַהֵכִ֥ין הָאֱלֹהִ֖ים) and Ruth 1:22 (השָּׁ֖בָה). However, here I must be quick to say that I am not accomplished enough in Hebrew grammar to question such a phrase – or perhaps even to notice that it is anomalous. I will plead blissful stupidity (and an oxymoron to boot ;) )! Thus, inasmuch as this Hebrew is unusual, I do NOT understand it so well as I implied! I will be certain not to say so on a Hebrew forum!

When I teach a structure like Greek prepositional phrases, right from the get-go I emphasize to students – first year or other – that an articular prepositional phrase should be thought of as a unit, with the article telling us how to read it. Thus, I teach students to think of, “Ἀσπάζονται ὑμᾶς οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰταλίας” (Heb 13:24) as “’The-from-Italy-ones’ greet you”, rather than the anglicized “Those who are from Italy greet you.” I have found that if I try to approach the grammar from an imposed English arrangement, it is very hard for students to grasp the Greek.
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Re: John 8:40 ... ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα ...

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » December 14th, 2014, 3:28 am

Thomas Dolhanty wrote:The 3rd person plural niphal participle הַנִּמְצְאוּ־פֹ֔ה
A bit off-topic for B-Greek, but isn't נִּמְצְאוּ a perfect rather than a participle?
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