[b-greek] Re: Matt 26:50

From: Iver Larsen (iver_larsen@sil.org)
Date: Sat Sep 01 2001 - 04:11:00 EDT

Carl said:
> OK, I did read that in your original post, and I've also looked at BDAG (I
> assumed you were citing the older BAGD) which doesn't add much. Yes, there
> are some who think a question was implicit. I can't agree, of
> course, "that
> it's the least problematic from a contextual point of view." In fact, what
> I find particularly disturbing about it is that your interpretation of the
> context seems to me to be dictating not so much what the Greek actually
> says as what you think it OUGHT to say. Nevertheless, I have no business
> being dogmatic about this, especially as any resolution of the
> problem must
> be speculative rather than unquestionable.

Since you are disturbed, I feel I need to explain my intention and give more
explicit reasoning. My interest is to understand the idiomatic Greek usage
of EF' hO. Any help on that will be appreciated.

It seems that you are quite happy with the fairly recent conjecture that one
is allowed to supply a form like POIEI to get "Do that which you have come
to do." I find this difficult to accept for two reasons.

1. As far as I know it is unprecedented to supply a verb with as much
semantic content as POIEW to a text. I am ready to supply ESTIN, especially
at the end of the sentence, and also ready to supply words that can be
copied over from the previous context. What I am trying to say is that there
are rules for ellipsis, and eliding POIEW seems to be outside the rules.

2. As Mark Wilson has pointed out, it is not clear why Jesus would have said
"Do what you came for!" He has already done the betrayal part. The only
remaining act is for the guard to grab Jesus, which they do. I am not saying
this interpretation is impossible, only that I am uncomfortable with it on
the basis of normal Greek usage, as many have been before me.

Therefore, I am looking at a possible alternative understanding of the Greek
idiom, and context has a part to play in this, as long as we don't call in
"mother context" too early to settle the issue.

Now, the third edition of BAGD which I use, has a bewildering amount of
options for EPI. It is further complicated by the fact that it can govern
genitive, dative and accusative.

Under the dative use, under the subsection
"of that upon which a state of being, an action, or a result is based"
they list an idiomatic usage of EF' hWi and say that it is equivalent to
EPI TOUTWi hOTI 'for this reason that, because' Rom 5:12

Under the accusative use they list EPI with the sense "of purpose, goal,
result" (among many others). And they give examples like
EPI TOUTO 'for this' as in
Lk 4:43 EPI TOUTO APESTALHN 'for this I was sent'

BAGD also suggests that the relative pronoun can be used instead of the
demonstrative as it is in the forms hOS DE and hO MEN-hO DE. The relative
pronoun in Greek includes an implicit demonstrative as is the case in many
other languages. It seems therefore more reasonable to me to supply a
demonstrative than a verb like POIEW. Or, if necessary, to replace it with a
demonstrative plus a hOTI, as above.

What I am probing is whether we can put these insights together and suggest


If we do this, then the fuller form would be:

EPI TOUTO hOTI PAREI; '(Is it) for this that you have come?'

The demonstrative "this" would then refer back to the contextual theme of
betrayal versus friendship. By kissing Jesus Judas appeared to come as a
friend. What would the other 11 disciples have been thinking in that
situation? What was Judas up to? Did he have friendly motives?

I mentioned the other uses of hETAIRE to introduce a rebuke or correction
from a senior benevolent figure to a junior person who was out of line, and
I think this is relevant.

I, too, don't want to be dogmatic, but I want to understand what the Greek
text is intended to communicate. And this includes that it should fit the
context well.

Thank you for allowing me to think through the issue on this list.

Iver Larsen

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