Question on John 21:15

Alex / Ali alexali at
Thu May 9 10:19:38 EDT 2002

>> >>  Do you love me more than these [love me]?
>> >> Do you love me more than [you love] these?
>> >>Is it ambiguous in the Greek, too?
>> >> Helmut Richter

>> toutwn here equals *disciples* (ablative of comparison).
>> ergo- *do you love me more than these disciples do?*
>> jim

>Just an added contextual thought which I think supports it. According to
>Matt 26:33 and Mark 14:29 Peter had assured Jesus that he loved him more
>than all the other disciples. There Peter said: "Even if all the others may
>fail you, I will not do so."
>In John 21, Jesus offers Peter a chance to counter his three denials by
>three assertions of love. Peter hesitantly and humbly does so, now
>recognizing his frailty.
>Iver Larsen

I agree with Jim's conclusion, but not on the basis of his description of
TOUTWN as an ablative of comparison, as I would have thought it would be
equally an ablative of comparison whether one understands 'more than these
[love me]' or 'more than [you love] these'.   Similarly, while I think the
contextual understanding offered by Iver is sound, I wonder if we can get
somewhat further in relation to the grammar itself.  If TOUTWN is resolved
as 'more than [you love] these' the resolution offers TOUTWN as equivalent
to the object of the fully expressed clause, whereas the understanding as
'more than these [love me]' equates it with the subject of the fully
expressed clause.  It is common for a comparative genitive to equate to the
subject of a clause in which a form of the verb 'to be' may be understood
(though I'm not asserting at all that that is the thought-process involved);
e.g. John 14:28, hO PATHR MEIZWN MOU ESTIN, 'the father is greater than me',
might be resolved as 'the father is greater than *I am*'.  It's not
particularly frequently that another verb is to be understood.  In an
example such as Luke 21:3  ALHQWS LEGW hUMIN hOTI hH CHRA hAUTH hH PTWCH
PLEION PANTWN EBALEN it would be otiose to repeat the verb, as it would in
English; 'this poor widow has put in more than all of them', where the
PANTWN might be resolved as 'this poor woman has put in more than *all (the
others) put in*, i.e. as subject of the expanded phrase.  Similarly, after
an adverb of comparison, John 20:4 hO ALLOS MAQHTHS PROEDRAMEN TACION TOU
PETROU, 'the other disciple ran more quickly *than Peter (ran)*'.  I'd be
interested if list members were able to point me to counter-examples in the
gospels, where the comparative genitive equates to the *OBJECT* of the
expanded clause.  I don't like defining my theology by statistics - but it
does seem to me that the use of the comparative genitives in the gospels, at
any rate, supports 'more than these (do) love'.

Alex Hopkins
Melbourne, Australia

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