Re: Jn 20.22 and illocutionary force

From: Joe A. Friberg (
Date: Thu Oct 14 1999 - 13:43:34 EDT

Sometimes these threads just don't go the way the originator intended! My
apologies in return for the digression!

----- Original Message -----
From: N & RJ Hanscamp <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 1999 4:22 PM

> Lexically this may be the case [discussing the meaning of aor. imp.
LABETE], but in the context Jesus had effectively
> thrown the grapes to them and then said "Catch". They seemed to have no
> choice in the matter. Is this the force of the imperative?

A good way to approach your question would be through the lens of Speech Act
theory. (See my very recent post under the thread "Illocutionary.")

Note that the relationship between the participants in the communication
situation is of importance: Jesus was an aknowledged authority/leader to
whom the disciples had submitted, as demonstrated by their having followed
him for x years, and by their present huddling together now even after his
death. They are still following him.

So, they have placed themselves under his authority, and he utters
"take/receive." It seems to me that from his position of authority, he
actually *confers* the Spirit on them by his words. At the same time, his
words *explain* what he is doing (apart from his verbalization, they would
not know positively what he was doing!). Further, he *promises* to give
them the Holy Spirit.

Thus, the single utterance seems to carry three of Austin's five broad
illocutionary functions:
exercitive: confer Holy Spirit
expositive: explain what he is doing
commissive: promise/commit to giving HS

Hope that helps!

> >Another quick example that comes to mind of lexicalized aspect in English
> is
> >'enter' vs. 'go in'. 'Enter' focuses on crossing the threshold.
> So 'receive' in this case focuses on ... the moment of reception?

Yes, because of the *aorist* tense/mood.

God Bless!

Joe A. Friberg
Arlington, Texas
MA Linguistics
MA Theology candidate

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