Re: EI = since

From: Steven Cox (
Date: Sat May 30 1998 - 04:03:25 EDT

excuse me old chap but EI = if

Sorry, not trying to be flippant, I am reacting not to your article
so much as ATR; i.e. I already have this red-lined as one of ATR's all
too frequent departures into circular theology masquerading as grammar:

| In Luke 4:3 EI UIOS EI TOU QEOU EIPE we have a good example of the
| first class condition. The devil would not, of course, use the second
| class (assumed to be untrue), for that would be an affront to Christ.
| The third and fourth classes would throw doubt on the point. The
| temptation to have force must be assumed as true. The devil knew it
| to be true. He accepts that fact as a working hypothesis in the
| temptation. He is anxious to get Jesus to prove it as if it needed
| proof for Christ's own satisfaction and for his reception. [p1009]

Beware of greeks bearing gifts and grammarians who say "of course".
The above may be true or it may be false, but either way it has little
to do with the function of EI as a conditional, and it could not be
EAN in this sentence. If ATR said that on b-greek Carl would beep him.

In this case ATR (it helps to know a little of his background) credits
the devil with attributes, such as recognition of Messiah, which may
derive from later Christian ideas rather than contemporary Jewish ones
(Job, Zechariah, Test.Dan, Vitae Adae). Conversely a questioning EI UIOS
EI TOU QEOU may not have been "an affront" to the original, and possibly
unpersuaded, Jewish/Pagan target audiences for which this material in
either aural or written form was intending.

(Personally I understand this confrontation to be part of a developing
Matthean narrative up to 16:16; i.e. what purpose does it serve the author
to include "you are the Christ" type credos, or even "a son of God" from
the mouth of Satan before an obedient angel or even a human has given
testimony?? IMHO anyway..)

I think to go on any longer would lead into a theological discussion
but looking at all Matthew's uses of EI, even in Matt6:30, I cannot see
a single one that justifies being rendered "since". So I submit that
EI = if, as much as English 'if' means if; that other words, such as DIA,
= since, and the distinction between the two is considerably clearer
in greek than some other languages I can think of.

I am also suspicious about the de'IF'ication of EI in other NT verses,
and deconditionalising of uncomfortable EI clauses.

That aside I enjoyed and appreciated your article. You concentrate heavily
on references to Exodus again. What do you make of the PTERUGION?

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