Re: Luke 7:47 and the many-splendored hOTI

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Nov 13 1996 - 07:11:16 EST

At 2:08 PM -0600 11/9/96, Mike Luper wrote:
>I have been "lurking" for so time on the list--and enjoying immensely I
>might add. Now I have two questions to pose.
>First, in working through Young's grammar I came across a reference he
>makes to a "cataphoric demonstrative" (p. 190). I have never heard of
>the term "cataphoric" and could not track it down in any dictionary or
>linguistic text. Could somebody offer some insight on the meaning of
>this term?

This question has, I think, already been very nicely answered. I'd like to
say a bit about the second.

>Secondly, in the Greek Grammar course I am currently teaching we will
>shortly be translating Luke 7:47, and I have a question with regard to
>the use of hOTI in this verse. Young points to Zerwick who suggests that
>it is to be taken as causal, "in the special sense which gives the
>reason not why the fact is so, but whereby it is known to be so." It is
>clear from the latter portion of the verse, "for the one to whom little
>is forgiven, loves little" that the meaning of the initial portion is
>not that the woman is forgiven "because" she loved, but the explanations
>regarding the usage here seem a bit strained. I noted that Young
>suggests the rare use of hOTI as result. I searched through a number of
>advanced Grammars and can find no indication of such a usage, but I was
>wondering if the use of hOTI as result was part of its usage outside of
>the NT. Taking hOTI as result in this verse would sure seem to
>preferable to the other possible readings--although I have a hunch that
>since none of the major commentaries I have read on Luke suggest this
>possiblity that it is not too plausible an explanation.

By this point, Mike, you've probably already gotten past this verse, but
the question about this hOTI is worth some discussion and I'd very much
like to see what other list-members think about it.

First of all, let me say that both TI and hOTI can drive students (and
teachers as well) up the walls. It's hard enough to get students to
distinguish between interrogative and indefinite TI, and once they get that
straight they immediately run into a TI interrogative in the sense of
"Why?" when they're expecting "What?" hOTI is problematic in part because
editors are not consistent about distinguishing the conjunctional form hOTI
>from the pronominal form hO TI--and, of course, the different functions of
hOTI do derive, like those of Latin QUOD (and English "that," German
"dass") from the conflation of antecedent and relative pronouns. In the NT
it helps when the hOTI introducing a direct quotation is followed by an
upper-case letter beginning the cited clause, but even editors can be wrong
about which clause is really a direct and which is an indirect citation, or
whether we're dealing with one of the other odd hOTI adverbial-conjunctive

I've come around to a way of dealing with the adverbial conjunctions hOTI
in Greek and QUOD in Latin this way: the clauses that they introduce are
very much like genitive absolute clauses or like CUM clauses in Latin. If
in doubt--and it isn't really THAT often that the right sense of of hOTI is
in doubt--about the particular usage, one may start the process of
unpacking the sense by translating any of these clauses with a rough/loose
English nominative absolute: "The fact being that <she loved a lot> ..."
Then one has to think through the possible relationships between the
information given one in the hOTI clause and the clause which it clarifies:
is it "because"? Is it "apparently because" (i.e., one or more of the
parties involved acted upon the assumption indicated by the hOTI clause)?
Occasionally one is not quite sure what is meant by a particular hOTI
clause. But the sense of it amounts, it seems to me, to a parenthetical
"The fact is that ..."

I also have the impression that earlier Attic (and later Atticizing) Greek
tended to be more precise in indicating the logical relationship of such
clauses to those on which they are dependent, employing a whole battery of
hOTE, EPEI, EPEIDH, DIOTI. And the same is true of the usage of hINA +
subjunctive and of hWSTE + indicative or infinitive, of EIS + articular
infinitive--all of these serving a variety of subordination functions but
especially purpose and result. Figuring out their nuances in many a
particular Koine construction can give one quite a headache. There are
those who say that Koine is simpler than classical Attic because it fudges
those nuances which classical Greek clearly and carefully distinguishes,
but that hardly makes Koine Greek easier to read; it only means that a
slightly-less-complex grammar must serve a wider range of semantic
expression. Something is gained in simplification of the grammatical
structures, while at the same time something is lost in nuanced
differentiation of semantic expression. Anyone for aspirin?

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

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