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

From: Iver Larsen (iver_larsen@sil.org)
Date: Wed Nov 28 2001 - 17:56:59 EST

> 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
> later.
> 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.

All of these forms of SU were marked in the Friberg database as nominative
which supports your suggestion of taking them as subject for the verb rather
than part of a vocative phrase. That, of course, is an interpretation. How
does Accordance tag them? In the NT database I am using there are 640 nouns
marked as vocative, but not a single pronoun.

> 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).

I fail to see how the SU can be termed emphatic. In terms of relative
prominence, the NUN is prominent as it contrasts the statement in the
preceding sentence about Jesus having glorified God on earth up to this
point in time. *Now* it is up to God to glorify Jesus. The second prominent
word is glorify, since this is the recurrent theme of these verses. The way
I see it, the ME and SU come later in the sentence, because the other two
words, NUN and DOXASON, are relatively more prominent.
I find it logically impossible, or at least highly improbably, that a
language with such flexible word order as Greek can mark prominence both by
fronting and the opposite (do you call it backing?) I have read Levinsohn's
treatment of what he calls end of sentence focus, but I find alternative
analyses to his examples more convincing.
In a certain sense the fact that SU occurs at all can be said to make it
emphatic, since it is strictly speaking not needed. I am wondering whether
there is Semitic influence here. There seems to be an abundance of personal
pronouns in this section.
Has anyone done a statistical count of the occurrence of personal pronouns
in "normal Koine Greek" and compared with John's gospel as a whole or just
John 17?
In a quick comparison of John and Acts, I found no significant difference in
the frequency of third person nominative pronouns, but 1st person nominative
pronouns were about 2.5 times as frequent in John and 2nd person 3 times as
frequent. I did not take into consideration that Acts is much longer than
John. That would make it 3-4 times as frequent.

We may not reach a clear verdict as Carl says, but it is still interesting
to investigate the options and the relative weight of various arguments in
order to get a feel for the direction the scale might be tipping. In this
case, it makes little difference to the meaning.
CEV translated it "Don't be foolish" which is similar in intent to "You are
NLT says: "What a foolish question!" That is more polite that saying "You
fool!" After all, it was Paul himself who framed the hypothetical question
in order to make his point.

Iver Larsen

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