Re: OUAI = "DAMN"?

From: Mark Goodacre (
Date: Mon Sep 14 1998 - 09:54:41 EDT

On 14 Sep 98 at 7:40, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> If anything, I suspect that "Damn you" is rather weak for OUAI hUMIN,
> although of course the force of this phrase in English depends considerably on
> the circumstances in which it is uttered and the assumptions that the speaker
> and hearer of it have about the phrase's meaning. While I don't mean to
> suggest that it is wholly relative to these factors, I think its force will
> vary over a very broad range of sensibilities, presuppositions, judgment of
> the listener upon the authority of the speaker, etc.
> Nevertheless, what seems right about this suggestion is its propriety if
> one views the beatitudes and their antithesis (more clearly balanced in
> Luke's "Sermon on the Plain") as following in the older tradition of
> "blessings and curses" for obedience and disobedience to the covenant, as
> those appear, for instance, near the end of Deuteronomy and as the Mendenhall
> hypothesis assumes was an essential part of a suzerainty treaty upon the
> precedent of which the Sinai covenant is thought to be formulated.
> Wouldn't the listeners to John the Baptist's "Brood of Vipers" speech have
> felt the same way about that? If this is not a curse in the proper sense of a
> prayer for someone's damnation, it is at the least a powerful admonition that
> rejection of this opportunity for salvation must be damnation.

Thanks for this. Also relevant, I suppose, is Matt. 11.20-24 // Luke 10.13-15
in which we hear OUAI SOI, XORAZIN, OUAI SOI BHQSAIDA in a clear
judgement-related context -- EN hHMERAi KRISEWS in vv. 22 and 24 and then v.
23 KAFARNAOUM shall be cast down to Hades.

Dr Mark Goodacre
  Dept of Theology Tel: +44 (0)121 414 7512
  University of Birmingham Fax: +44 (0)121 414 6866
  Birmingham B15 2TT
  United Kingdom

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