Mark 8:12

Steven Lo Vullo doulos at merr.com
Thu Jan 24 00:24:40 EST 2002


On Wednesday, January 23, 2002, at 08:21  AM, Erik Westwig wrote:

> KAI ANASTENAXAS TWi PNEUMATI AUTOU LEGEI, TI hH GENEA hAUTH ZHTEI 
> SHMEION;
> AMHN LEGW hUMIN, EI DOQHSETAI TH GENEA TAUTH SHMEIOV.
>
> which my RSV translates as:
> And he sighed deeply in spirit, and said, "Why does this generation 
> seek for
> a sign?
> Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation."
>
> My trouble is with the second sentence.  I don't understand how they get
> their negation (no sign shall be given).  The only way I could see how 
> this
> might work is if there is a sarcastic tone to this sentence.  "If a sign
> will be given to this generation..." with an implication of consequent
> surprise.  There is also a theological problem here, which I hesistate 
> to
> mention, but it does bear on the Greek translation.  Jesus says that 
> this
> generation will not get a sign, but he himself is about as big a sign 
> as you
> could get from God.  Could this also play into the overall tone of 
> sarcasm?

Erik:

As Trevor made clear, this idiom has its roots in the "self-maledictory 
oath," though only the protasis ("if" clause) is retained. It was 
understood that the apodosis (conclusion) calls for something horrendous 
to happen to the speaker if the action of the protasis indeed takes (or 
has taken) place. EI in this kind of idiomatic expression became 
equivalent to a negative. Probably the best place in the NT to go for 
confirmation of this understanding is Heb 3, where we find this same 
idiomatic usage in v. 11: EI EISELEUSONTAI EIS THN KATAPAUSIN MOU ("If 
they shall enter into my rest"). That this is an oath is confirmed by 
the fact that it is introduced by the words hWS WMOSA EN THi ORGHi MOU 
("As I swore in my wrath"). And that EI was understood as being the 
equivalent of a negative is made clear when the author turns the direct 
quote from Ps 94.11 (LXX) in v. 3 into indirect speech in v. 18 
(embedded in a rhetorical question): TISIN DE WMOSEN MH EISELEUSESQAI 
EIS THN KATAPAUSIN AUTOU ("And to whom did he swear that they would NOT 
enter into his rest?"). Note how EI in the direct quote becomes MH in 
the indirect speech.

For the full construction (protasis and apodosis) see Ps 7.5-6 (LXX): EI 
ANTAPEDWKA TOIS ANTAPODIDOUSIN MOI KAKA APOPESOIN ARA APO TWN ECQRWN MOU 
KENOS KATADIWXAI ARA hO ECQROS THN YUCHN MOU KAI KATALABOI KAI 
KATAPATHSAI EIS GHN THN ZWHN MOU KAI THN DOXAN MOU EIS COUN KATASKHNWSAI 
("If I have repayed with evil those who repayed me [with good], then may 
I perish empty by means of my enemies; then let the enemy pursue my soul 
and overtake [it] and trample my life on the ground and lay my glory in 
the dust.").
==========

Steven Lo Vullo
Madison, WI




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