Re: Verb Sequence in Mk 6:36

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Mar 27 2000 - 06:39:06 EST

At 11:44 PM -0800 3/26/00, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>on 03/26/00 3:42 PM, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:
>> In BAG there is a note on the interrogative pronoun construction that
>> you point out in Mark 6:36. Under the interrogative pronoun TIS, at 1.b.Z
>> (zeta) they speak of the interrogative as a substitute for the relative.
>on 03/26/00 3:00 PM, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> There's absolutely nothing wrong with the text as it stands; you're right:
>> TI FAGWSIN is the object of AGORASWSIN. Technically speaking it is an
>> indirect question--that's the reason that TI/ is an interrogative pronoun
>> and it's also the reason why FAGWSIN is subjunctive.
>Thanks to Harold and Carl.
>I found several other examples of this idiom using TI FAGWSIN (e.g. MK
>8:1,2). There seems to be some of what the Transformational Grammar people
>used to call skewing evident here between the grammatical form and the
>semantic function since TI FAGWSIN isn't performing the function of a
>question in this context or in Mk 8:1,2.

Actually Mk 8:2 DOES have the same idiom OUK ECOUSIN TI FAGWSIN, and here
too the TI/ is interrogative, "They don't have what they may eat." This too
IS an "indirect question." Perhaps what needs to be said here--and this is
where you're inclined to call in explanations in terms of Transformational
Grammar, but I think the situation was understood PRIN GENESQAI CHOMSKY
well enough--is that in these constructions the indirect question has taken
over the function of a purpose clause: OUK ECOUSIN TI hINA FAGWSIN AUTO;
hypothetically the TI here is an indefinite pronoun that's the object of
ECOUSIN and the purpose clause (which we'll translate as an infinitive in
English and to which we'll supply a pronoun object referring back to the
TI) completes the sense: you COULD call TI FAGWSIN an "epexegetic
infinitive." Of course, we're not accustomed to think of this subjunctive
construction as an infinitive, but in Modern Greek it IS called an

>Once we have identified this idiom we still are left with the question
>about why the scribes thought this needed to be revised as radically as it
>is in the Majority Text and in Codex Bezae. It seems that the scribes didn't
>like it for some reason. Wonder why? Perhaps the scribes didn't know NT
>Greek any better than I do. A frightening thought.

Actually what the Majority Text has is hINA APELQONTES EIS TOUS KUKLWi
as the direct object of AGORASWSIN and TI FAGWSIN has been made into a new
explanatory sentence wherein TI FAGWSIN is still an indirect question: "For
they don't have what they may eat." TI/ FAGWSIN is no less an indirect
question in this version, but it's the object of ECOUSIN instead of
AGORASWSIN. I'm not astute enough (or at all) at textual criticism to have
any notion whether the MT or Codex Bezae reading could be understood as an
emendation of what editors of the critical text take to be the
original--but there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Greek of either

Another well-known instance of the idiom here is what is commonly deemed a
KLINHi, "... but the Son of Man doesn't have where he may lay his head" = "
... has no place to lay his head." I've generally assumed that this is a
Latinism that has crept into Hellenistic Greek, but I suppose it could be
an independent development in Hellenistic Greek; although I've called it an
indirect question, of course there's not anything really interrogative in
it, but it's a noun clause functioning as the object of "buy" or "have"
with the subjunctive functioning as a purpose infinitive, "for to eat."


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 WWW:

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