[b-greek] Re: Luke 8:9

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Thu Nov 08 2001 - 03:55:09 EST

At 7:48 PM -0800 11/7/01, Kenneth Litwak wrote:
> Luke 8:9 reads:
> I have two questions. The English translations I
>consulted (because I remembered them doing something I
>don't think the Greek justifies), read something like
>"What this parable means/meant". So
>1. EIH is an optative of EIMI and does not mean
>"mean" but "be" or "happen" or the like. How can
>translation like the NASB or the New Revised Serpent
>Versrion (NRSV) justify translating this as

Where have you found EIMI to mean "happen," Ken? GINOMAI is used that way,
but EIMI?
(a) At any rate, this is a classical Attic Indirect Question construction
of a sort not frequently found in the GNT with the verb in the IQ clause in
the optative; the optative need not do so but often suggests some
uncertainty in the questioner about what's being asked. I think that TIS
hAUTH EIH hH PARABOLH might well be Englished as "What this parable might
(b) Comparative reading of Synoptic parallels in Mk and Mt might make
clear, if the context of Lk were not enough to make it clear, that the
disciples don't understand the parable of the Sower just told them (in Mk's
gospel, with its extraordinary emphasis upon the thick-headedness of the
disciples, Jesus actually tells them: "You don't understand this one? How
are you going to understand any parables at all?" But the clearest
indication that TIS hAUTH EIH hH PARABOLH does in fact mean "What is this
parable supposed to MEAN?" is that Jesus introduces his explanation of the
parable in verse 11 with
ESTIN DE hAUTH hH PARABOLH:" which might just as well be Englished in this
context as "What this parable MEANS is:"

>2. The punctuation in NA27 treats TIS... as a
>statement, like indirect discourse:
>"His disciples asked him, what this parable is". Why
>should we read this as indirect discourse? Why can't
>it be a straightforward question: "His disciples
>asked him,"What is this parable?"

It IS an Indirect question, not a direct question--that's what the presence
of the optative mood in EIH means; so the clause expresses the intent of
their question rather than the direct wording of their question.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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