Re: Luke 9:21--ambiguous to me

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Sep 03 1997 - 19:44:03 EDT

At 4:34 PM -0500 9/3/97, Ronald Wong wrote:
>This may not be an advanced question...but a grammatical one that I
>haven't been able to solve...
>In the english text (NASB) it separates this as a sentence, though the
>greek text does not.
>How can we know accurately what the TOUTO refers to...what precedes
>(v.20) "TON XRISTON TOU QEOU" or what follows in (v.22)...

Well, it's been a while since we've heard from "dogtoy"--I just love that
name as I still recall fondly the things my dachshund used to play with.

There are a couple factors that might be helpful here. The first is that,
although this is not an invariable principle, it is very frequently true
that a neuter form of hOUTOS (TOUTO or TAUTA) points *backward* to some
salient notion in what has immediately preceded, while a neuter form of
hODE (TODE or TADE) points *forward* to some salient notion to be set forth
in what follows. And that seems to be the case here: TOUTO does, almost
surely, refer back to Peter's identification of Jesus as "the Christ of

The second factor is help to be gained from the parallel pericopae of the
other Synoptic gospels. I'm looking at UBS4 and Lk 9:21 is prefaced by a
heading that tells me this section has a parallel in Matthew at Mt 16:20-28
and a parallel in Mark at Mk 8:30-9:1. Checking the parallels of a pericope
in any one of the synoptic gospels is almost always illuminating in
revealing the different perceptions and perhaps slightly different
interpretations of the same story in each evangelist; it won't, in every
single instance, help one to understand the gospel version one started out
with, but more often than not it does. And if you look at Mark and Matthew,
you'll see that there's this same admonition by Jesus to the disciples not
to reveal to others his Messianic identity. This is the celebrated motif of
the "Messianic secret" which has played a by no means negligible role in
studies of the relationship of the synoptic gospels to each other.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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