From: Carl W. Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Feb 13 2001 - 09:15:41 EST
At 9:45 AM +0100 2/13/01, Iver Larsen wrote:
>> Dear Bgreekers,
>> on the thread on the translation of James 2:24, the general issue
>> of what OU negates in a given sentence, the verb or other parts, arose.
>> I think this is an important issue. I hope that the issue can get some
>I agree with you that this is an important issue. I was surprised that
>and Carlton suggested that the negative particle would govern an implied verb.
It's not all very uncommon that it ends a sentence negating an implied
verb, for example, Mt 22:17 EIPE OUN hHMIN TI SOI DOKEI: EXESTIN DOUNAI
KHNSON KAISARI H OU -- where the H OU must clearly represent H OUK EXESTIN?
>was also surprised that Alan interpreted James 2:24 as if the text talked
>two quite separate "justifications", whereas I would agree with Moon. James is
>discussing "faith alone" as opposed to "faith proven by action/works" and this
>is indicated by the use of the negative particle and the word order.
>> The contrast implied in James 2:24 can be visible by the following
>> It is by works, not by faith alone that man is justified.
>> In summary, I think the following statement of yours should be considered
>> an empirical statement rather than a linguistic principle.
>> "I find that most of the time in the NT OU(K) negates the verb."
>The last statement is correct, but it offers us no help in understanding the
>issue at hand. A rough count of times in the GNT when the negative particle
>governs the verb showed me about 2000 times. It was a bit difficult to
>many times the negative governs something else, rather than the verb. A very
>rough estimate is 100-300. Someone with more sophisticated search
>more time could find a more accurate figure.
>However, Moon has given several examples from English of the need to look at
>which part of the clause the negative governs.
And I wonder whether some of the difficulty here doesn't derive from
thinking in terms of English usage rather than Greek usage, or assuming
that they must be identical.
In most cases it is a matter of
>CONTRASTING different possible subjects or objects in the clause. Let me add a
>few examples from the GNT, starting from Matthew:
>Matt 4:4 OUK EP' ARTWi MONWi ZHSETAI hO ANWRWPOS, ALL' EPI PANTI hRHMATI...
>"bread" - physical food - is contrasted with "every word" - spiritual
>only food, but words are we to "eat". It is not a matter of "eating" or "not
>eating", but what you eat.
>Mat 7:21 OU PAS hO LEGWN MOI KURIE KURIE ...ALLA hO POIWN TO QELHMA TOU PATROS
>Here two potential subjects for "entering the Kingdom of God" are contrasted.
>Not all who say Lord, but those who do the will of God.
>Mat 9:13 ELEOS QELW, KAI OU QUSIAN. OU GAR HLQON KALESAI DIKAIOUS ALLA
>In the first part, the two objects for what God wants are contrasted:
>sacrifice" or "mercy". It is true, of course, that the word QELW is implied in
>the second part, so a full form would be ELEOS QELW, KAI OU QUSIAN QELW "I
>mercy, and I do not want sacrifice." (A Hebrew way of saying: I would rather
>have one than the other.)
>The focus in the Greek (confer word order) is on the contrast, and to show
>clearly in English we would have to change it to something like "It is mercy
>that I want and not sacrifice."
>The second part also has a negative. In this case the negative occurs
>main verb, and since the main verb is the nucleus of the clause, it is the
>clause that is negated and contrasted with another potential clause. A
>of the second sentence would be:
>OU GAR HLQON KALESAI DIKAIOUS ALLA HLQON KALESAI hAMARTWLOUS "For I did
>to call righteous people, but I came to call sinful people." Although
>there is a
>contrast between righteous and sinners, the focus is on the coming of Jesus -
>for what purpose did he come. Again, an understanding of the function of word
>order in Greek is crucial for a clear understanding of the focus and
I think that the contrast in the above instances is clearly indicated by
the ALLA joining the second clause to the first (or should I say
>Matt 12:29 EAN MH PRWTON DHSHi TON ISCURON "if he does not first bind the
>It is not binding or not binding that is contrasted, but what is done
>binding has to come before entering into the house.
>Mat 16:11 PWS OU NOEITE hOTI OU PERI ARTWN EIPON hUMIN
>"How could you not-understand that I spoke to you not-about-leaves (but about
I am more inclined to think that here too the OU governs the verb (or the
whole clause) rather than the prepositional phrase, EIPON, rather than PERI
ARTWN, and that the position of PERI ARTWN is governed by its emphasis.
Ordinary English, by the way, would convert that Greek to "How is it that
you didn't understand that I was not talking to you about loaves?"
Here I would raise a question that has a bearing upon yesterday's question
(at least it was first raised yesterday) about the negation in OUC
hARPAGMON hHGHSATO; I'd say that the OUC here, although placed before the
noun hARPAGMON, actually negates the verb hHGHSATO--although I might be
willing to accept the view that it negates the whole clause.
>There are, of course, lots and lots of examples like this, and it seems to
>almost universal fact of language, that negative particles can govern various
>parts of a sentence. In Greek, the negative governs the word or phrase that
>follows immediately after the negative (disregarding discourse connectors like
>GAR, DE etc.) If it is the verb or verb phrase that is negated, this may
>indicate a negation of the whole proposition.
My guess is that this is too simple a formulation to account for actual
usage of OU and MH in all instances. It may be that it's something worth
studying afresh, although I find it hard to believe that it hasn't already
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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