[B-Greek] Mt. 28:17 hOI DE EDISTASAN

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Apr 17 10:36:31 EDT 2006

On Apr 17, 2006, at 9:02 AM, Albert & Julia Haig wrote:

>>>> [RB] So how would Greeks have heard Mt 28:17? OI DE 'and  
>>>> others'  DE marks a change and OI means a different group.
>>> [Me] OK, I see the point now. So is it impossible that the DE  
>>> marks a  change of topic from faith to doubt? Why?
>> [CC] It marks a shift from focus upon those (of the disciples)  
>> who  responded in faith to at least two others (of the disciples)  
>> who  responded with doubt.
> I think the above sequence of quotes, and elsewhere in my post,  
> makes clear that I now agree with you on this; but the fact that  
> the "but some doubted" reading is probably correct *does not* mean  
> that we cannot explore other possibilities also. I was just asking  
> whether the other reading was possible, even granted that it is  
> unlikely. Apparently you don't think so; but you haven't given me  
> any reason, just restated the more likely reading which is no  
> longer in dispute. I'm asking if there's a specific reason DE can't  
> mark a contrasting antithesis of the "they were X, but they were  
> also Y" kind. Consider the English sentence, "they were rich, but  
> they were also poor". Couldn't the word "but" be DE in Greek? If  
> so, isn't the alternative of Mt. 28:17 still a possibility, even if  
> a less likely one?

If we're talking about one group, all of whom are declared to be both  
rich and poor, I would expect the Koine Greek of your proposed  
English sentence to be something like: (a) PLOUSIOI HSAN, ALLA KAI  
PTWCOI, or (b) HSAN PLOUSIOI MEN, PTWCOI DE. But I would NOT expect  
to see the pronoun hOI used with the DE to indicates what you're  

>>> [Me] Though this use, in which a pronoun and DE are  used to  
>>> introduce an otherwise unspecified and elsewhere  unmentioned  
>>> group, does seem to be rare.
>> [CC] The citations from Xenophon's Hellenica and Cyropaedia which  
>> I gave  you earlier (you said you would have to hunt them up, but  
>> I had done  that, gave you the citations as well as my own English  
>> version of  them) involved the same sort of shift to a sub-group  
>> of those cited  in what precedes the clause in which the pronoun  
>> hO + DE appears.
> With respect, I think you're missing the point. I said such usage  
> was, quote, "rare". Before you gave your examples, I thought there  
> may have been no such instances, but once you had given them, I  
> conceded that such usage occurred, but noted that it was "rare".  
> And your examples prove my point precisely. If such usage was  
> common, then why were you forced to resort to quoting  
> extracanonical literature? Besides Matthew 28:17 and 26:67, can you  
> show me any other example either from the New Testament or the LXX?  
> If not, isn't it a fair call to say that such usage is "rare"?  
> Otherwise, what do you think that "rare" means in this context?
>> [AP] Quite so. The translator, in the target  language (Greek),  
>> marks a shift (from one means of watering to another), which is  
>> unmarked in the source language (Hebrew).  Thus in this case he  
>> caters to Greek usage rather than slavishly mimicking his source,  
>> as he does all too often.
> Fair enough, but I think we can say more than this. ve in Hebrew  
> does not mark a shift, and yes, the translator has selected DE to  
> mark a shift which is unmarked in the Hebrew. But he has also  
> selected DE to mark the meaning of ve. Otherwise, he has chosen to  
> leave ve untranslated, which he does not do elsewhere. So it seems  
> that the translator thought (a) we need to mark a conjunction  
> (indicated by ve) *and* (b) we need to mark a shift (not indicated  
> in the Hebrew grammar), and consequently chose DE. In short, there  
> does seem to be some overlap between the meaning of DE and the  
> meaning of ve.

For my part, I would be content to accept the proposition that the  
LXX translator interpreted the Hebrew text and put it into Greek  
formulation consistent with his interpretation rather than slavishly  
using a literal word-for-word technique of conversion.

With respect, this argument reminds me very much of an account I once  
heard of an argument with a fellow insisting that the moon is really  
made of green cheese. Numerous tests having been made of materials  
taken from the moon surface and shown to be not even remotely of the  
texture or composition of any known green cheese, the proponent of  
the proposition replied that, if one could penetrate to the very core  
within the moon, one would surely extract a sample that could be  
identiified as green cheese.  So, the instances cited of the hO DE  
clauses in ancient Greek in support of the conventional  
interpretation of hOI DE in Mt 28:17 being extra-canonical except for  
the instance in Mt 26:67, and that instance having been dismissed on  
grounds that there's a conceivable (if unlikely) alternative  
explanation, it would appear now to be argued that this one text, Mt  
18:17 (hOI DE EDISTASAN) might conceivably be an instance of  
something that is unparalleled but theoretically plausible. It seems  
to me that this is the very essence of an argument that is  
conventionally called "purely academic."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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