Matt 26:50

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sat Sep 1 08:18:54 EDT 2001

Iver, I thank you very much for your painstaking efforts to show the
plausibility of your understanding of this text. I think this has been a
very worthwhile exchange. I still don't think I'm ready to accept the
interpretation that goes with this, but I think you've shown at least that
it is quite plausible to suppose EF' hO PAREI as a question representing
something like EPI TOUTO hOTI PAREI (which would mean pretty much the same
thing as my own suggested TOUT' ESTIN EF' hO PAREI)? But there remain some
questions for me, not the least of which concerns how best to TRANSLATE
this into a target language. While you understand this as referring to the
kiss, I think it could just as easily refer to the evident success of the
plot to arrest Jesus--which would also fit just as well the usage of
hETAIRE to which you refer. That is to say: there is still considerable
ambiguity or what we'd have to call a "cryptic" character to "For this
you're here?"--as there is in the celebrated response of Jesus to the High
Priest (Mt 27:1 and parallels): SU LEGEIS. Does one or should one translate
this in such a way as to preserve the cryptic quality and then explain in a
footnote what it MIGHT mean?

You refer to "rules for ellipsis" that appear to exclude the possibility of
elision; are you referring to rules governing Koine Greek? I would think
that, IF we understand POIEI EF' hO PAREI to be the expression (and I think
POIHSON, an aorist imperative, would be at least as likely here and would
involve no elision) the more likely phonological treatment would be
"ekthlipsis" of the E of EF'--so that we'd have POIEI 'F' hO PAREI. Have
such "rules for ellipsis" in Koine Greek been spelled out or researched, so
far as you know? I'd be curious to see them.

At 10:11 AM +0200 9/1/01, Iver Larsen wrote:
>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


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

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