[B-Greek] Matthew 28:17: hOI DE EDISTASAN

Albert & Julia Haig albert_and_julia at yahoo.com.au
Sat Apr 8 23:34:40 EDT 2006

> [Carl] Sure, but the key element here is the DE with hOI, indicating a shift of focus to another group or sub-group.

> [Harold] DE is contrastive, and hOI can function as a demonstrative pronoun implying "some." If Matthew had wanted to say that everybody doubted who worshipped, he could have left out the hOI.

Sorry Carl and Harold, but I think I can prove you wrong on this point!

59 verses in Matthew include the phrase hOI DE. Of these, only 27 occur without a following masculine plural noun (or masculine plural participle funtioning as a noun) and hence are strictly analogous to this case. In 25 of these cases this phrase is standardly translated "and they ..." or "but they", and the hOI completely obviously refers to the entire group of people in the context, not just to some of them. These 25 cases are:

2:5, 2:9, 4:20, 4:22, 8:32, 9:31, 14:17, 14:21, 14:33, 15:34, 15:38, 16:7, 16:14, 20:5, 20:31, 21:25, 22:5, 22:19, 26:15, 26:66, 27:4, 27:21, 27:23, 27:66, 28:15

The remaining two cases are 26:67 and the verse in dispute, 28:17. In 26:67, as in 28:17, most translations read "and some slapped him", or "and others slapped him". However, this seems to me to be very dubious, as the verse could easily be read, "then they spat on his face and beat him with their fists, and they also slapped him, and said ...". In other words, hOI DE in 26:67 could refer to the same people doing the beating. Indeed, in light of the 25 cases I have cited above, that seems to be overwhelmingly more likely.

That leaves us with the case in point, 28:17. Even if we accept the sense of "some" is legitimate in 26:67, which I don't, the a priori chances of that reading here are 1 in 26 (of the 26 other cases of the grammatical construction in Matthew, only 1 might mean "some"). Futhermore, the reading "but they also doubted" seems to me more eminently reasonable in context.

Therefore I conclude that it is the overwhelmingly more likely reading. Indeed, most likely Matthew simply never uses hOI DE to mean "some", irrespective of its meaning in broader Greek. His characteristic meaning seems to be to refer to all the group.

God bless,

Albert Haig.

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