Re: Luke 22:20

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Mar 16 1998 - 07:01:47 EST

At 12:15 AM -0600 3/16/98, George Athas wrote:
>James P. Ware wrote:
>> [...] I find I must disagree with George Athas' reply that the text is
>> ambiguous
>> in Luke 22:20 as to whether it is the blood or the cup which is poured
>> out. An attributive adjectival participle, like any adjective, agrees with
>> the noun it modifies not only in gender and number, but also in case. In
>> order for the participle here to modify haimati, it would normally
>> have to be in the dative, unless one were to argue for some contructio ad
>> sensum such as one finds in the papyri or the book of Revelation; this
>> seems unlikely for Luke. Or am I underestimating this possibility, or
>> missing something else?
>> Jim Ware
>Jim and Thomas,
>If TO hUPER hUMWN EKCUNNOMENON is attributive, then yes, it must refer to the
>cup (TO POTHRION). However, another legitimate reading (which I prefer) is
>To hUPER hUMWN EKCUNNOMENON is predicative of TW hAIMATI MOU, hence requiring
>the nominative case. It makes more sense for the blood to be spilled than the
>cup - indeed, it is idiomatic to talk of blood being spilled by using the
>EKCUNW/EKCEW. The other synoptics also support the blood being spilled -
>although Luke is his own writer and must be taken on his own grounds, it is
>still quite legitimate to see EKCUNNOMENON as qualifying TW hAIMATI MOU. It is
>as if the the TO in *TO* hUPER hUMWN EKCUNNOMENON is acting like a relative
>pronoun. Indeed, whether you take it as referring to the cup or the blood, we
>must translate it as a relative pronoun. I guess it's a case of take your pick
>to which it refers.

TO acting as a relative pronoun? I might expect that in Homer or Herodotus;
occasionally--certainly more often than as a relative pronoun--one sees it
as a demonstrative, as one sees hOS, but this seems to me another grasp at
a straw; the reason we translate it as a relative pronoun is that this is
the strategy we regularly follow with attributive participles: we turn them
into relative clauses. But we would best be very careful about confusing
the grammar of our translations with the grammar of the original text.

This whole section here, 22:17-20, is a messy one and one that is
head-spinningly variant in the MSS. I've puzzled with it repeatedly over
the years and often suspected it's the product of an effort to bring Luke
more discernibly into line with the theology of the other synoptics, but I
don't feel confident enough with my own text-critical abilities to argue
for any definitive solution to the question how the text came to be in the
form in which we get it printed in our editions. I would say that the form
of TO hUPER hUMWN EKCUNNOMENON is deliberately parallel to the form of TO
hUPER hUMWN DIDOMENON, another attributive participial phrase which we
translate as a relative clause in English.
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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