RE: The degree of indefiniteness of hOSOI (Gal 3:10) (Warren, Carl)

From: Warren Fulton (
Date: Wed Feb 09 2000 - 06:25:07 EST

Hi Moon. Gruess Gott Carl.

Moon wrote:

> The original motivation of my question was whether it would be linguistically
> possible to take Gal 3:10a hOSOI GAR EX ERGWN NOMOU EISIN
> hUPO KATARAN EISIN to mean that those who are (currently and
> historically) under the Law are (currently) under curse. In that case, I may
> take the verse to mean that the Jews, who are under the Law as the people
> of the Law, are under curse. In that case, hHMAS in Gal 3:13 CRISTOS
> may be taken to the same group as hOSOI EX ERGWN NOMOU EISIN.

With this argument you have jumped to another level of analysis, from what Paul says
to what he means. When you make that jump, you have to bring in external factors like
the occasion for the letter, the receptiveness of the audience, the hidden agenda of
the speaker, etc.

Here in the current political climate in Austria I have to be careful if I make a
general statement like "Anybody who restricts immigration is xenophobic," because
most people will take that to mean "Anybody who votes for the Freedom Party is a
racist." This interpretation does not emanate from my use of "anybody" as opposed to
"those who." Or my use of "restricts" instead of "might happen to restrict." It comes
from the natural process of the listener putting my remark in context. On the level
of argumentation, Paul, I think, is using general statements of law as a framework
for his specific corrective message to the Galatians. In fact, right here in these
four verses (10-14) we have as many quotes from the Torah in the pattern of

> Let me raise two questions.
> Q1. The first one is whether 3:10a is a statement of (historical) fact
> or a statement of rule or law. As it is, it seems that 3:10a can taken
> both ways. If hOSOI EX ERGWN NOMOU were expressed
> by using AN and the subjunctive form of EISIN, it would be hard to take
> it as a statement of fact. The fact that we have hOSOI + indicative
> makes it possible for me to take it as a statement of fact.

Yes, a statement of law presented as a fact. But not a statement of law tagged to
particular individuals. Linguistically, you're going to have a hard time giving one
of the groups defined in a general statement of law a local habitation and a name
like "the Jews." Logically, though, you might narrow down the group by
cross-referencing various statements for overlap as you were doing above with Gal 10
and 13. If Paul makes a statement about "those under the law" as "cursed" and then in
his next breath says "we were under the curse of the law," you would be justified to
conclude that "we" at one time belonged to the original group. An analysis of the
rhetorical structure of Paul's argument might help you more than trying to squeeze
any more out of the grammatical forms.

As Carl and I have noted, the linguistic distinction between indicative and
subjunctive is not rigorously applied to the delineation of a group with hOSOI or the
relative. As a matter of fact, after examining most of the over hundred NT occurences
of hOSOS, I can really only detect a halfway consistent use of subjunctive for
speculating on a future outcome. Besides, the variety of different structures used in
this passage to set forth the terms of (un-)righteousness seems to indicate that the
choice of structure is subordinate to the functional pattern which first defines the
category of the offense or praiseworthy act and then specifies the corresponding
punishment or reward.

Gal 3:10a hOSOI + indicative
Gal 3:10b PAS hOS + indicative
Gal 3:11 hO + adjective
Gal 3:12 hO + aorist participle
Gal 3:13 PAS hO + present participle

As a passionate form freak, I am of course aware of the different signals these
structures are resonating with. But the different grammatical forms do not seem to be
put in contrast to each other or to mark varying stages of inclusiveness or to say
anything about whether the crime is first degree or second degree. They are all
formulated as blanket statements. For this reason I seriously doubt that we can
extract from the structural level of the text essentially different conclusions about
the various groups defined here, e.g. whether they are distinct historical entities
as opposed to broad legal categorizations.

> Q2: Warren said there are several ways to define a group of persons or
> things:
> [PAS] hOS AN subjunctive, [X] means that X is optional.
> [PAS] hOS indicative
> hOS participle
> hOSOI AN subjunctive
> hOSOI AN indicative
> Can I add "article + prepositional phrase" to this list?
> An example of it is TOUS hUPO NOMON in Gal 4:5 TOUS hUPO NONON EXAGORASHi.

My sense is that there is an understood participle with TOUS, as there seems to be in
verse 9 with hOI, so that I wouldn't necessarily create a new category.

Looking at the passage in terms of the function of defining a group and assigning a
reward or punishment to that group reveals that Greek has a wide range forms to
express this. The choice of form though does not seem to be a means of pointing the
finger at anyone specific. I think if we want to go further and see how the various
groups are qualified or characterized, we have to move up a level to rhetorical
development, to lines of reasoning, and even further up to the whole context of the
letter to the Galatians.



Warren Fulton
Inlingua School of Languages
Vienna, Austria

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