[B-Greek] EI and EAN Jn 3:12
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Mar 6 05:40:11 EST 2006
On Mar 5, 2006, at 11:11 PM, Oun Kwon wrote:
> On 3/5/06, Carl W. Conrad <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu> wrote:
>> The primary conditional construction here is
>> EI (TA EPIGEIA EIPON hUMIN KAI OU PISTEUETE)
>> PWS (EAN EIPW hUMIN TA EPOURANIA) PISTEUSETE.
>> "If you DO not believe" then "HOW WILL you believe?
>> But it might be easier to think of it thus:
>> "I told you earthly things, and you don't believe (me/what I said).
>> And if that's the case, how will you (be able to) believe me/what I
>> say if I tell you heavenly things?"
>> That is to say, the EI governs the entire two-clause coordinate
>> structure of TA EPIGEIA ... OU PISTEUETE, not just the EI ... EIPON
>> hUMIN clause.
>> Does that help?
> Thanks Carl,
> You opened my eyes to see the syntactic structure of the text. It is
> easily appreciated when I am looking at the Gk rather than the English
> (When looking at again, the EI-clause of 3:12a seems like a refrain
> of 3:11b.)
> If I can arrange the text as the way I think the idea flows:
> 3:11b KAI THN MARTURIAN hHMWN OU LAMBANETE:
> 3:12a EI (TA EPIGEIA EIPON hUMIN KAI OU PISTEUETE).
> 3:12b PWS (EAN EIPW hUMIN TA EPOURANIA) PISTEUSETE
> Now, semantically the EI is (to me) too much 'ify'
> and feels the statement is not possible reality. Like 'if a pig could
> fly' when a pig cannot fly. However, here, it is a fact that they do
> not believe what earthly things Jesus explained, not something 'ify'.
> here I am back to my original question (trying to render 'EI' as
> Can you see whether the following would be acceptable and not
> violating what the text says?
> 3:11b But you* [all] do not receive our testimony:
> 3:12a [Now] I told you* these earthly things and yet you* do not
> believe. Then:
> 3:12b how will you* believe if I tell you* the heavenly things!?
> [ ] are added to clarify. I hope I have understood the 'tense' of the
> verbs correctly.This rendering tells that what Jesus said to Nicodemus
> was the earthly things and he has not yet told about the heavenly
> things. With the verse 12b, did Jesus mean 'you would not' or 'I hope
> so'? There comes an interpretative question of what these heavenly
> things would be.
In my view the PWS PISTEUSETE asks a sarcastic--incredulous--
question: "How in the world are you going to believe me, if I tell
you of heavenly things? I've (already) told you earthly things and
you don't believe them." It could have been a simple "Future more
vivid" construction: EAN hUMIN TA EPOURANIA EIPW, OU PISTEUSETE or
even stronger, OU MH PISTEUSHTE ("you certainly won't believe me").
But I think that the PWS PISTEUSETE indicates a sort of exasperated
conclusion expressed as a rhetorical question: it would have been
relatively easy for Jesus' listeners to believe the "earthly" things,
but they don't. All the more unlikely then, if he tells them the
"heavenly" things, they won't believe him.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
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