Re: Luke 23:43 - Where does the Comma Go?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Apr 03 1998 - 16:06:37 EST

At 2:29 PM -0600 4/3/98, Williams, Wes wrote:
>The placement of the comma has been discussed on b-greek in 1996. While
>true that the placement of the comma is subject to grammatical and
>theological debate, there exists some manuscript evidence supporting the
>comma after SHMERON. The Vatican 1209 (4th century) has a point written
>by the first hand after SHMERON. There is no other early manuscript
>having a point in this verse that has a point to the contrary (does
>anyone know of other early manuscripts having a point before SHMERON?).
>Curetonian Syriac (fifth century) translates Luke 23:43 in a manner that
>the point must be understood to be after SHMERON: "Amen, I say to thee
>to-day that with me thou shalt be in the Garden of Eden.'" While true
>that some may rightly say that these are inconclusive, they are early
>witnesses to the post-placement.
>In view of the foregoing, the words "the people who want" is perhaps not
>the proper expression to describe those who place a comma after SHMERON.
>It may be equally true, or even more so in light of the above (and
>more), to suggest that placement of the comma before SHMERON have
>theological, not grammatical reasons. Both sides of the grammatical
>issue need careful examination.
>Both sides of the discussion were presented on b-greek, which I
>appreciated. The last post on the subject was the following:

Nicely put, Wes--especially that theological reasons may indeed be involved
for one's preference here. I believe that at different times I've been
satisfied by arguments for different solutions to this problem of where the
comma properly belongs. My inclination TODAY (SHMERON, that is) is to
"feel" that the clauses here fall naturally into halves, each of which
begins with an adverb.

Interesting too is the argument from "weight of tradition" as it bears upon
the punctuation here. I've just reread John Albu's neat discussion from the
archives and am impressed by the growing consensus that seems to have
developed over the course of early centuries for one preferred punctuation
(i.e. interpretation). And yet, and yet, there's that whole thing about the
"lectio difficilior." I'm reminded too of the (perhaps) more weighty
problem of the punctuation of of John 1:3-4, where we must determine
whether hO GEGONEN begins a new clause/sentence and construes with verse 4
or whether it is more properly to be understood as the conclusion of verse
3. Metzger's note on this question has, since I first read it, been
absolutely fascinating in its assertion that the conventional punctuation
(i.e. interpretation) was changed because the way it had been read (as UBS4
and NA27 print it) appeared to aid and abet the theological enemy of the
day's orthodoxy.

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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