Re: Luke 22:20

From: George Athas (
Date: Mon Mar 16 1998 - 07:41:15 EST

Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> 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.

Carl, what I'm suggesting is not that TO *is* a relative pronoun here, but that in
this messy construction, it is acting *like* a relative pronoun for English
translation. The clause can be taken as either attributive or predicative. You pick
attributive (on reasonable grounds) and I pick predicative (also on reasonable
grounds). It really is up to the individual which they prefer.

> 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.

Yes, the verse is rather messy isn't it? It does seem as though Luke is trying to
bring out the meaning of the other synoptics but confusing the grammar and word
construction in the process. We have to ask: Is Luke trying primarily to preserve
the grammar or the meaning? My vote is for the meaning, hence my choice of

Best regards!
George Athas
 PhD (Cand.), University of Sydney
 Tutor of Hebrew, Moore Theological College
Phone: 0414 839 964 ICQ#: 5866591

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