Re: A reference problem

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Tue Mar 04 1997 - 23:01:59 EST

At 2:30 PM -0600 3/4/97, Ronald Ross wrote:
>Dear Greeks,
>In a previous posting, I mentioned that I was doing research on the
>discourse/pragmatic constraints on the passive voice in the writings of
>Luke. One of the aspects of this involves determining the role of the
>passive voice in topic continuity and persistence and this is done by
>counting any kind of reference (nouns, pronouns, agreement markers,
>etc.) to the passive subject and to the passive agent in immediately
>preceding and immediately following clauses to determine their relative
>topicality. When things go well, there are more mentions of the passive
>subject than of the passive agent. I have found, however, that working
>with the biblical text presents certain problems one doesn't usually
>encounter in ordinary secular texts. For example, in Acts 10.34 the
>passive agent is TOU KURIOU. Two clauses back there appears the phrase
>TOU QEOU. Is there any way to know in this particular case if the two
>terms have the same referent ('God') of different ones ('God/Christ')?
>In other words, for my purposes does TOU QEOU constitute a mention of
>Even in cases where QEOS and IHSOUS co-occur in the same context, I have
>wondered if a linguist who accepts the deity of Jesus might not be
>inclined to count this differently than one who is approaching the text
>as an outsider.


If you were working with John's Gospel, I would have no problem seeing
IHSOUS and QEOS as co-referrential because of the hymn to the LOGOS in
chapter one and Thomas' response to Jesus in 20:28 (as well as statements
like "The Father and I are one" 10:30). In Luke it is harder to say. It is
easy for later Christians to read a trinitarian doctrine back into Luke's
text, but I am not at all convinced that the author himself would have
understood IHSOUS and QEOS to be co-referential. At least it would not be
nearly so clear as in the case of John.

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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