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

Albert & Julia Haig albert_and_julia at yahoo.com.au
Thu Apr 13 05:58:25 EDT 2006

> [SCC] The remark "prophesy to us" as a taunt makes the most sense if those hitting Jesus were not in his line of sight, i.e., they are hitting him from behind.  On the other hand, those spitting in his face are in front of him.  (Matthew mentions no blindfold, as it would have been out of place or removed for those spitting on his face.)  The Matthean context therefore indicates two different groups beating him up in two different ways, so the context does call for understanding hOI DE as a shift in reference.

This kind of explanation is what worries me, because it is overly pedantic and fails to appreciate how language is used in practice. Unfortunately such lines of reasoning are common in biblical scholarship. Suppose that I say, "the mob of students in Paris smashed the windows of the Department of Employment, and afterwards they chanted slogans". The pronoun "they" in this sentence clearly refers back to "the mob of students", and indeed, could be replaced by the words "the mob" or something like that without altering the meaning. But obviously, the person who made the statement does not believe that *every, single student* in the mob was involved in the smashing of windows, or that *every, single student* in the mob necessarily chanted slogans, or that there were not some who did one but not the other. We speak of "the mob" as a whole, without this implying that we somehow think that everybody in the group did everything which we attribute to "the mob". That would just be a
 woodenly literal, or overly pedantic, interpretation of language.

Arguing that the pronoun hOI must refer to a different group in 26:67 is like arguing that the pronoun "they" in the above sentence must refer to a different group because only a few people could have smashed windows but nearly everybody was chanting. But such a line of reasoning would be obviously wrong. It is equally wrong when applied to Matthew 26:67.

All the best,


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