Re: Luke 7:43 reworded

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Mon Sep 15 1997 - 23:57:59 EDT

At 12:22 PM +0000 9/14/97, Clayton Bartholomew wrote:
>In Luke 7:43 Simon answers Jesus question by saying:
>Now let's assume that Simon had been more loquacious and had
>replaced the string enclosed in asterisks with:
>My first question is, would this longer response make sense in NT
>Greek? If not, where does the fault lie in this response. (Is AUTON

It would make sense only if the reader assumed that the author meant


And even so, it would be very odd Greek. In order for it to be normal Greek
the EKEINOS would need to be explicitly written. In the book which Clayton
is citing here (as he makes clear below), I omitted the EKEINOS to simplify
the discussion. Obviously, that was a bad decision!

>Now assuming that the previous example makes sense in NT Greek
>would the following change in word order be acceptable? If not,
>where does the fault lie with this word order?

Again, this would be legitimate only if EKEINOS or OUTOS were added between
AUTON and the rest of the clause:


Of course, this wording would have to occur in a context where it would be
appropriate for AUTON to be extraordinarily emphatic. It would be something
like "The one who was forgiven more will love HIM more."

>Now assuming that both of these examples make sense in NT Greek
>we have established that the word sequence *AUTON hWi TO PLEION
>EXARISATO* is a movable unit. If it is a movable unit then it is
>probably also a *constituent* is it not?

Well, actually all that would be demonstrated is that the movement test
does did not eliminate the sequence from potential constituent status.
Other criteria may (and I believe would) show that it is not in fact a
constituent. The sequence could be generated by two movement operations,
one moving [EKEINOS plus] the relative clause, and the other moving AUTON.

>If all of this discussion seems rather off the wall then look at page 44
>of *Levels of Constituent Structure in New Testament Greek*,
>Micheal W. Palmer, (Peter Lang 1995) where this example appears.
>Micheal Palmer states that the word sequence *AUTON hWi TO PLEION
>EXARISATO* is not "a phrase level constituent (or a constituent of
>any kind) of any possible sentence."

And I will stand by this statement. There is no syntactic test which would
demonstrate that AUTON hWi TO PLEION ECARISATO could serve as a constituent
of any clause. Perhaps Carl, with his wide knowledge of earlier Greek
texts, has seen an example of a sentence fragment consisting only of the
direct object plus a relative clause whose relative pronoun is dative case,
but even if he did, it would clearly not function like the sequence in this
sentence. Let's look at the sentence again (in the order in which it
appears in _Levels of Constituent Structure in New Testament Greek_, but
with the addition of the necessary EKEINOS):


Here AUTON serves as the object of AGAPHSEI. The relative clause, however,
modifies not the object, but the subject of AGAPHSEI, that is, EKEINOS. Of
course, in the book I omitted EKEINOS, but even if it were omitted, the
relative clause would have to be understood as modifying the subject
(expressed only by the verb ending) in order for the sentence to make sense
in the context in which its fragmentary counterpart appears in Luke 7:43.
If it modified AUTON (as Clay appears to assume that I intended), it would
mean something like
        "He will love him-who-was-forgiven-more more"
This, of course, would make no sense in the context.

>I am not arguing that Micheal is wrong. [SNIP]

Thanks. :-)

>. . . I am raising three questions
>for discussion. Are word sequences (1) and (2) intelligible NT Greek?
>Is the word sequence *AUTON hWi TO PLEION EXARISATO* a movable
>unit? If it is a movable unit does it qualify as a *constituent* of some

First, the word sequences in (1) and (2) are only marginably intelligible
NT Greek (with an elided subject EKEINOS or OUTOS understood). I should
have included the EKEINOS in my book, but I wanted to avoid the
complication of explaining where it came from. I clearly should have
included it, though, since without it the sentence does look very

Second, the word sequence *AUTON hWi TO PLEION ECARISATO* is not a movable
*UNIT*, though both AUTON and [EKEINOS] hWi TO PLEION EXARISATO could
conceivable be moved independently of each other.

For those of you who have some difficulty following this discussion, I
wrote _Levels of Constituent Structure_ with the assumption that the reader
would have no previous exposure to linguistics. The book introduces the
relevant linguistics concepts (like 'constituent') before the reader gets
to the example we are discussing here. You might ask Clay (off-list,
please, so that he won't feel inhibited by the posibility of offending me)
for an evaluation of how effectively I do that.

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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