Stephen C. Carlson
scarlson at mindspring.com
Tue Jan 30 10:04:06 EST 2001
At 02:13 PM 1/29/01 -0600, Steven Craig Miller wrote:
>Stephen C. Carlson,
>>Thus, there are no *syntactical* grounds in objecting to Matt 7:6 as a
>(a) MH DWTE TO hAGION TOIS KUSIN
>(b) MHDE BALHTE TOUS MARGARITAS hUMWN EMPROSQEN TWN COIRWN,
>(c) MHPOTE KATAPATHSOUSIN AUTOUS EN TOIS POSIN AUTWN
>(d) KAI STRAFENTES hRHXWSIN hUMAS (Mt 7:6).
>My claim is that here a natural reading of the Greek text would assume that
>the subject of 6c and 6d are the same subject, since there is no indication
>in the Greek text that the subject changed.
This is an understandable and perhaps valid objection to treating
Matt 7:6 as a chiasmus, but it is not a *syntactical*, i.e. a
grammatical, objection. Treating the subjects of 6c and 6d as
the same subject or different subjects, either chiastically or
in parallel with the preceding subjects, is grammatically permitted.
>One could justify this translation based on parallelism. So instead of
>seeing the "a b b a" structure of a chiasmus, one could see the "a b a b"
>structure of parallelism. My claim would be that both interpretations are a
>violation of normal Greek syntax. And furthermore, it is an attempt to
>impose an artificial structure overriding the normal Greek syntax of this
>passage. To claim that the subject of 6c must be "pigs" and the subject of
>6d must be "dogs" (or vice versa), despite the very clear fact that there
>is no indication in the Greek text that the subject has changed is to do
>eisegesis and not exegesis.
Although the translation is syntactically permitted, you may be right
that is is not "normal" or "Greek." But that really does not decide
the issue. It could be rare (in Greek) and (common in) Semitic. The
objection of "impos[ing] an artificial structure" is really no objection
at all, because all chiasmi are to a certain extent artificial.
>Unless one knows for a fact that the subject of 6c is "pigs" and the
>subject of 6d is "dogs," one cannot assume that one has a chiasmus with the
>"a b b a" structure. If subjects can be assigned at random, then one could
>just as easily assume that the subject of 6c is "dogs" and the subject of
>6d is "pigs" so as to have the "a b a b" structure. But if one is going to
>follow normal Greek syntax, then one has to assume that the subject of both
>6c and 6d are the same, and that to force the "a b b a" or the "a b a b"
>structure onto the text is to do violence to normal Greek syntax.
The emphasis on "normal Greek syntax" seems designed to preclude the
very real possibility that Matt 7:6 follows the Semitic poetic forms,
in which chiasmus and inverted parallelism are very common. There
are many reasons not to blithely assume that Matt 7:6 has to follow
Greek notions of rhetorical style instead of preserving an authentic
Semitic inverted parallelism. The original tradents of the saying
were Semitic, and the subject matter of the saying is Semitic. It
stands to reason that this possibility has to be considered rather
than dismissed out of hand.
>As I see it, the bottom line is this: What justification in the Greek text
>is there for assuming that the subject of 6c and 6d are different? In my
>opinion, the answer to this question is clear. The answer is: None!
The justification is that it is an authentic Semitic inverted parallelism.
Talking about "normal Greek syntax" misses the point.
Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson at mindspring.com
Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
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