Phil 1:28 hHTIS

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at
Fri Jan 11 05:04:13 EST 2002

Dear Carl,

This is an interesting discussion to me, and I am learning from our
different backgrounds, assumptions and traditions. Yes, it may be a can of
worms, but those cans are important for us translators, because that is the
time we need to make hard decisions, especially if we cannot put a long
essay in a footnote.

It seems to me that you are saying that hOSTIS normally gets its gender and
number from a preceding noun that is its antecedent, but in a few cases you
claim it takes its gender and number from a following noun. If I understand
you correctly you are saying that this happens when the pronoun refers to
the idea behind the words rather than a particular word in itself. I am not
quite ready to accept this, because I cannot see that this claim is well
founded. It is interesting that these situations are the ones where one
would expect a neuter form of the pronoun.

Since the relative indefinite pronoun is a close brother to the ordinary
relative pronoun, one would also expect that they behave in similar ways in
this respect. For the ordinary relative, I am quite ready to accept that the
neuter pronoun is ambiguous. Sometimes it refers to a neuter antecedent
noun, but very often it refers to a whole sentence or general concept. I
assume that hO/ TI has a similar function in older Greek, but as you say
this form does not occur in the GNT. I find it hard to accept that one can
just ignore a hHTIS and analyse the text as if there had been a hO/ TI. On
the other hand, hO/ TI is awkward because of the many other hOTI's. It must
be confusing to the reader to separate those. An alternative would be to use
the plural hATINA instead.

One of the blessings of modern technology is that it facilitates systematic
research on the Greek text. To do a thorough research on this can of worms,
I would need more time than I have right now. But in order to make the
research do-able in a short time, I looked at all the occurrences of hOSTIS
in the GNT followed within 3 words by a form of EIMI. Discarding one
instance of hEWS hOTOU there were 28 such instances. (I also had a brief
look at the 81 instances of the ordinary relative pronoun in nominative
followed by a form of EIMI within 3 words.)

Then I did a little test. If hOSTIS is anaphoric then it should be possible
to substitute the form of hOSTIS with a demonstrative and a noun, where the
noun is derived from the previous context and with the same number and
gender as the specific form of hOSTIS. (The same test should be applicable
for the ordinary pronoun.)

To give an example, the first instance was Matt 27:62
Instead of hHTIS I substitute "this day" to get: On the following day - this
day is after the preparation-day.

Doing the same for all these 28 instances I had no problem coming up with
such nouns in all undisputed cases.
There were 11 instances of hHTIS all with a singular feminine noun, such as
day, joy, woman, country, leaven, city, covenant, Jerusalem(city),
commandment, covetousness, life.
There was 1 instance of hAITINES with a plural feminine noun: women.
There were 2 instances of hOSTIS with a singular masculine noun: man/person.
There were 5 instances of hOITINES with a plural masculine noun: people
There were 2 instances of hATINA with a plural neuter noun: these works
(ERGA), these commandments (ENTALMATA)
There were 2 instances of hATINA where the antecedent seemed to be more
diffuse covering several related concepts, so that I would need to
substitute with: these things (Gal 4:24 and Phil 3:7)

I am mentioning one instance separately here because it is a clear case
where hOSTIS does not correspond to its predicate noun:
Eph 1:23 ...THi EKKLHSIAi, hHTIS ESTIN TO SWMA AUTOU - this church is his

This leaves the four instances which I call disputed: 1 Cor 3:17, Eph 3:13,
Phil 1:28, 1 Tim 3:15. Now, if the same principle can apply to these, that
would be my preference. And I not yet  convinced that this is not the better
For 1 Cor 3:17 which has hOITINES I can substitute with "these people" or
"such people", referring to the people who constitute NAOS QEOU.
For Eph 3:13 which has hHTIS, I can substitute "this affliction" (The idea
probably is that you should feel honoured that we are willing to suffer for
For Phil 1:28 which has hHTIS, I can substitute "this faith" and make very
good sense of it - see below.
For 1 Tim 3:15 which has hHTIS, I can substitute "this church" referring to
those who constitute OIKOS QEOU.

Finally, let me comment a bit on your latest response:


On this I said:
> >Although the antecedent is plural, hHTIS is singular, because
> the thought is on the singular concept QLIYIS, and maybe anticipating the
> singular DOXA.

You commented:
> I would understand this differently, Iver: (a) hHTIS is feminine NOT with
> reference to the preceding QLIYESIN but solely by attraction to
> the number, gender, and case of DOXA; and (b) the antecedent of the hHTIS
is really MH
> EGKAKEIN. A glance at NET's version and note on this passage is superbly
> illustrative of the complexity of this syntactical issue we're wrestling
> with:

I can see your claim, but I find it hard to accept that the antecedent of
hHTIS could be MH EGKAKEIN. NRSV translates hHTIS as "they" obviously
referring to sufferings. TEV has: "I beg you, then, not to be discouraged
because I am suffering for you; it is all for your benefit." NLT has:  "So
please don't despair because of what they are doing to me here. It is for
you that I am suffering, so you should feel honored and encouraged."

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