Re: Luke 10:13 - Woe?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Aug 24 1999 - 22:41:10 EDT

At 6:52 AM +0800 8/25/99, Paul Zellmer wrote:
>Carl W. Conrad wrote
>> At 12:55 PM -0500 8/24/99, Joseph Brian Tucker wrote:
>> >Greetings
>> >
>> >
>> >In an effort to capture the color and force of OUAI, the Scholars
>> >of the Jesus Seminar translates OUAI SOI BHQSAIDA "Damn you,
>Bethsaida!" At
>> >the expense of trying to be current, the use of "damn" loses, not the
>> >of anger, but certainly the sense of the gravity and pain conveyed by
>> >original OUAI. As O. Betz notes such, "vulgarizing" destroys the
>> >thrust of Jesus' words. (_Theologische Literaturzeitung_ 119 (1994),
>> >11, p. 989).
>> >
>> >What is the best understanding of OUAI and can someone provide
>another way
>> >to capture the original color and force of the OUAI?
>> Well, of course one can go back to "Woe to you!" or you might use
>"Curse you!"
>> But my own feeling about this is that just how strong "Damn you!" is
>> thought to be may depend upon the sensitivity of the reader or
>listener to
>> the word rather than to any implicit meaning in the word. This IS an
>> onomatopoetic word isn't it that is expressive by virtue of its very
>> it is the exact equivalent of the Latin VAE and it isn't far removed
>> the older Hebrew, the later Yiddish OY, Oyveh, the Greek OI or OIMOI
>> AIAI.
>Carl, in this light, is it then basically the same as the German ACH?
>If that is the case, then the equivalent in my sub-dialect of
>Mid-Western American Conservative Christian (as best as I can describe
>the influences) would be AAARGH! "Damn you" doesn't show nearly the
>frustration with the deficiencies of language to describe the feeling.

No, Paul, I don't think it's the equivalent of AARGH! It's not a matter of
frustration but a matter of fervent wish for the utter destruction of the
person or persons addressed. Older Greek had another expression: an
optative second person: OLOIO (2 sg.) or OLOISQE (2 pl.), the equivalent of
which might be (and here is perhaps a useful English equivalent): "Go to
hell!" or "To hell with you!" The optative wish is for the utter perishing
of the person(s) addressed. My sense, however, is that this is exactly what
"Damn you!" means when it is uttered with sufficient vehemence.

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

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