Re: Why an instantaneous imperfect in Mark 8:24?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Jun 28 1999 - 19:52:24 EDT

At 1:20 AM -0400 6/28/99, Moon-Ryul Jung wrote:
>Carl wrote:
>> (3) Of the questions raised in this verse, the most interesting to me is
>> that of the nature of this particular hOTI; it's certainly not the
>> ubiquitous indicator of directly-cited speech equivalent to our <"> nor it
>> is really "causal"--we wouldn't want to convey it by a "because."
>> Daniel (if I've understood aright what he is saying) has suggested that
>> this is not the conjunction but the relative pronoun. I think, however,
>> that editors are generally pretty careful to distinguish the relative
>> pronoun from hOSTIS from the conjunction by writing it as two words (hO TI)
>> rather than as hOTI, analogous to the German differentiation of DAS from
>> DASS. I think that "THAT" in English must be one of the most troubling of
>> all English words for aliens to grasp its varied usage, because we DON'T
>> differentiate the usages by spelling.
>> I personally think that our hOTI in Mk 8:24 comes closer to the Latin usage
>> of QUOD in the sense, "the fact being that ..." That is actually, I think,
>> how hOTI and QUOD in the first instance come to be used to introduce a noun
>> clause that qualifies another clause. The particular Latin usage of QUOD
>> that this seems closest to, in my view, is as "but ..." --and I'd convey
>> the whole verse into English thus: "And upon looking up he proceeded to
>> say, "I do see people, but in fact I'm seeing them walking (as indistinctly
>> as if they were) trees."
>I like "hOTI = the fact being that..." very much. Given S1, hOTI S2,
>we have "S1, the fact being that S2". In this case, S2 basically explains
>the statement of S1. Depending on the context, S2 states a cause for S1,
>though the causal link may not be strong in many cases.
>Let me ask some clarifying questions:
>1) Is "QUOD = the fact being that ..." a well-established fact?

Yes. But upon looking closely at the LSJ account of hOTI, I'm not so sure
that we REALLY need to postulate Latin influence here; earlier Greek usage
of hOTI clauses comes pretty close to what we have here.

>2) If "hOTI = the fact being that ..." can be defended, I think we have
>a very nice result. W have a unified notion of hOTI; we do not have to
>worry about whether the given hOTI clause is causal or not. We simply need
>respect the ambiguity of "The fact being that ...". Sometimes, it
>the preceding statement as in Mark 8:24. Sometimes, it provides some weak
>causal connection, too weak to be rendered as "because". Sometimes, "the
>fact being that ...." can be considered to state a strong causal
>In sum, is it reasonable to always consider hOTI to be "the fact being that
>without worrying about whether it states a cause or not?

For my part, I would say so--but of course the majority of instances of
hOTI involve the introduction of a direct or indirect citation. The way I
would express the usage now in question is that hOTI does mean
fundamentally, "the fact being that ..." and that the causal hOTI is the
most common usage of this hOTI. Another way to put it is to say that a hOTI
clause means: "it being the case that ..." or "that is to say: ..."

>3) If so, the meaning of hOTI seems very close to that of GAR. Given S1.
>GAR S2, S2 states some explanation for S1. For example, consider:

GAR (AUTOUS) hWS DENDRA PERIPATOUNTAS--because GAR is a postpositive.
>I see men; I perceive them walking like trees.
>Is GAR interchangeable with hOTI in many cases?

I wouldn't want to say so; it seems to me that a hOTI clause tends more to
clarify an assertion that is a bit vague, while a GAR clause explains WHY a
previous assertion is valid. The two constructions may overlap, but I don't
think that they are really quite equivalent.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:31 EDT