[b-greek] Re: SU as part of a vocative?

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Wed Nov 28 2001 - 09:06:51 EST

At 9:19 AM +0100 11/28/01, Iver Larsen wrote:
>Carl said:
>> As it appears in UBS4, hO in hO SPEIREIS is a neuter nominative relative
>> pronoun, and the sentence is punctuated AFRWN, SU hO SPEIREIS, OU
>> ZWiOPOIEITAI EAN MH APOQANHi; the editors appeared to understand AFRWN as
>> vocative and SU as subject of hO SPEIREIS. I must say, however, that it
>> makes more sense to me to read AFRWN SU as a single vocative unit; why
>> emphasize SU as the subject of the relative clause: "What YOU sow doesn't
>> come to life unless it has died." I don't understand any particular
>> emphasis in the SU and yet I can't see why the SU would be explicitly
>> stated EXCEPT for emphasis. I'd rather understand this as, "You fool, what
>> you are sowing doesn't come to life unless it has (first) died."
>> --
>While I am happy to see an argument based on word order emphasis, and I
>fully agree with Carl that SU is better analyzed with AFRWN, I am not sure
>we should take it as vocative.
>Luke does use the adjective AFRWN as a vocative twice: (11:40, 12:20). But
>Paul never uses this word as a vocative, although he does use it as a
>descriptive adjective 8 times, of which 6 refer to the Corinthians. In the
>comparable phrase in Gal 3:1 he says W ANOHTOI GALATAI.
>In the absence of an overt vocative marker like the -E ending or the W, it
>is an open question whether it is to be analyzed as a vocative or
>nominative. Nowhere else is SU part of a vocative phrase. A vocative phrase
>is used in apposition to the accusative SE as in Luke 19:22 and Phil 4:3.
>Would it not be reasonable to suggest that AFRWN SU is a short descriptive
>phrase: You (are) (a) foolish (person)!
>I realise this is a third option, different from the two suggested by my
>good friend and compatriot, Ulrik.

Interesting; I had considered that option, but not very seriously, i.e.,
that there's an ellipsis of the 2nd sg. verb EI (common enough): "You can't
be serious! what you're sowing doesn't come to life unless ..." I do think
that's a plausible conception.

I'm not sure yet, however, about the other alternatives.

Mt 2:6, 11:23 (par Lk 10:15 have phrasing beginning with SU addressed to a
city, followed by an appositional phrase (KAI SU BHQLEEM, GH IOUDA ...; KAI
SU KAFARNAOUM, ...). Lk 1:76 has KAI SU DE, PAIDION, ... I rather suspect
that in all of these the SU is really the subject of the verb that appears

I suspect that's also the case with SU in Acts 1:24 SU KURIE KARDIOGNWSTE
to punctuate this as SU, KURIE KARDIOGNWSTE PANTWN and understand SU as the
emphatic subject of the imperative ANADEIXON.

Finally there's the interesting word-order of the High-Priestly prayer in
position in its clause!) is the emphatic subject of the imperative DOXASON,
but is followed immediately by the vocative PATER. Another factor here, of
course, is the juxtaposition of personal pronouns (ME SU).

So, although I think Iver's suggestion is plausible, I'm less confident
that the committee's reading of SU as subject of SPEIREIS is really wrong.
And although it did seem to me originally that the SU of SU HO SPEIREIS
would be emphatic, I'm less sure of that also; despite all that's been said
about frontal emphasis, I think the SU following DOXASON ME in John 17:5 is
about as emphatic as is possible. So now I'm thinking: maybe the committee
rightly understood the text after all: the SU is not so much emphatic as a
subject, but it follows directly upon the independent vocative
(nominative-for-vocative) AFRWN, to make the linkage clear: "(you) silly
fellow, what you're sowing doesn't come to life unless ..."

Finally, in favor of the view that AFRWN and SU are to be understood as a
unit and both as vocative, there's a usage in classical Attic (I really
don't know whether it continues in secular Hellenistic Koine, but I suspect
it does) of hOUTOS with SU as a unit to address an unknown person
immediately confronted: "hOUTOS SU, TI POIEIS?" = "You here, what are you
up to?"

I will confess that it is just this sort of examination of plausible
alternatives (where I find no single one unquestionably preferable to
another) that adds fuel to my tendency to be skeptical about solving any
and every grammatical problem. I know that many are fully convinced that
there's only one meaning intended by the author--and that much I will
myself readily concede; what I will NOT concede is that we can in every
instance clearly discern what that authorial intention was. I think that we
must often go with the alternative that seems to us, after careful
scrutiny, to tip the scale one way or another, however slightly. I guess I
had better add that I make that statement not as a stance on Biblical
hermeneutics (which area is outside the parameters of list-discussion) but
as a grammatical analyst.

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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