Re: Pronoun Emphasis

From: S. M. Baugh (
Date: Mon Mar 10 1997 - 12:53:54 EST


Some time ago I read a book on forms of emphasis in Hebrew (I think it
was by Muraoka) and wished we had such for Greek. He explains the
*purposes* of emphasis. I have yet to find a comprehensive study of this
kind for Greek--if you know of one, I would be very grateful for the

I have to admit this topic intersects with a pet-peeve of mine. I often
read in student papers some such thing as: "The genitive here
*emphasizes* the relation of possession" when what is meant is: the
genitive *expresses* this relationship; there is no emphasis.
Furthermore, commentaries quite often are satisfied with saying that
something is "emphatic," while the cry echos round: "What's the point of
the emphasis?!"

So with that preface, let me present some ideas for your consideration,
elaborabtion, rebuttal, etc. (See also brief comments in Wallace, p. 321
and n. 11; Young, p. 72; Porter, *Idioms*, p. 129). The following
functions of emphasis relates only to *redundant nominative personal
pronouns with non-copulative verbs.* (Gramcord gives 812 nom. personal
pronouns in the NT.) Other forms of emphasis (e.g., word order) need
further exploration, and one must differentiate between "focus" and
"emphasis." The former probably relates primarily to word order when we
say that something is in an "emphatic position." And it might be fair to
say that most forms of emphasis express a statement's focus.

(1) Contrast. Probably the most common use of the nominative personal
pronoun is to bring out the contrast between two parties. E.g., EGO
EBAPTISA . . . AUTOS BAPTISEI, "*I* baptized you with water, but in
contrast, *he* will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:8). Cf.
EGW DE LEGO in Matt. 5:22-44.

(2) Personal Involvement. Stresses the personal involvement of the
subject, especially when unexpected: hO PEMPYAS ME PATHR AUTOS MOI
ENTOLHN DEDWKEN, "the Father who sent me has himself personally
(contrary to your expectations) given me a command" (John 12:49). See
also EGW in Matt. 8:7, "I will (personally) come and heal him." Porter's
example of 1 Thiss. 2:18 as "specification" (below) may belong here.

(3) Conviction. Demonstrates an authorÔs deep conviction about the
statement. This category may blend into the others, so it might not
warrant separate treatment. Perhaps EGW in Mark 6:16: "John, whom *I
most certainly* beheaded, he has been raised!" (emotion and personal
involvement here).

(4) Emotion. Expresses an author's emotion in the statement. This could
be a very broad category and accounts for "anger" in Acts 4:7: "Why have
*you* done this?" and some of the other meanings given by Young, p. 72.
"Exasperation," or "surprise" would fit here as well: SU in John 3:10
probably conveys emotional force with perhaps some sarcasm: "So *you*
are Israel's teacher?!"

(5) Specification (from Porter, *Idioms* p. 129) or Clarification. The
pronoun clarifies through specification: SU in Acts 16:31 "You will be
saved, *you* as well as your household." Also EGW in 1 Thess. 2:18.

(6) No Emphasis. It is hard to see any emphasis in all nominative
personal pronouns in copulative statements (particularly with EIMI) in
some authors. The pronoun was probably felt to be semi-required to avoid

Any ideas you wish to add/subtract?


S. M. Baugh
Westminster Theological Seminary
in California

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