[B-Greek] Jn 7:22 DIA TOUTO

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sat Nov 4 02:40:33 EST 2006


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Oun Kwon" <kwonbbl at gmail.com>


> On 11/2/06, Carl W. Conrad <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu> wrote:
>>
>> On Nov 2, 2006, at 9:20 AM, Oun Kwon wrote:
>>
>> > I'm unsure of the verse break vv Jn 7:21 & 22.
>> >
>> > Jn 7:21b  hEN ERGON EPOIHSA KAI PANTES QAUMAZETE
>> > Jn 7:22a  DIA TOUTO MWUSHS DEDWKEN hMIN THN PERITOMHN
>> >
>> > Shouldn't DIA TOUTO belong to the end of v. 21 to explain QAUMAZETE
>> > (shocked BY IT)?
>>
>> DIA TOUTO doesn't mean "by it" but "for this reason." What 7:22 says
>> is "That's why Moses gave us circumcision ... "
>> There are 131 instances of DIA TOUTO in the GNT, all of them at the
>> beginning of a clause.
>>
>
> I just found the source of my question. I am copying the footnote on
> DIA TOUTO here from the Translator's New Testament (1973) by British
> and Foreign Bible Society:
>
> The literal translation is 'on account of this'. Two different
> punctuations are found in modern translations: (1) If the full stop
> follows 'by it', the meaning is that Jesus did a miracle on the
> Sabbath and the Jews were shocked by it. (2) If the stop is put before
> 'by it' we read 'on account of this Moses gave you the rite of
> circumcision', which would imply that Moses did so in order that the
> Sabbath should be broken. Since this seems unnatural, TT has adopted
> (1).
>
> Here I do not agree with their argument 'in order that the Sabbath
> should be broken'.   The idea must be 'to follow what Moses commanded
> for circumcision rites, Sabbath may have to be broken'.
>
> What I was curious was whether there is something definite (rather
> than discretionary) to tell where to keep DIA TOUTO. In this
> particular example, the context and usage may allow to keep this at
> the end of the preceding verse though I see that many instances of
> this appearing at the beginning of a clause.
>
> Oun Kwon.

This is an excellent question, and there is no quick and easy answer. Louw and Nida offers no help,
and there is not much discussion of it in BAGD.

Looking at all the 64 instances of DIA TOUTO in the GNT, I have come up with three different usages.
(I did not research the 350 instances in LXX).

1. With the meaning "therefore, that is why, the reason for B is A" we find it as a logical
connector between two clauses or sentences. It indicates that the previous clause (A) gives the
reason for the following clause (B). The two common possibilities are reason-purpose and
reason-result. In my analysis, this applies to 32 of the 64. It may come after the coordinating
conjunction KAI as in Matthew 14:2, but John often uses it without, possibly because he prefers
asyndeton.

2. With the same meaning it is used cataphorically to highlight a reason that is given later in the
sentence ("the reason for A is that/because B"). The reason clause is often introduced by hOTI. I
found 11 such examples, and John is the main user of them. John also commonly uses the corresponding
anaphoric EN TOUTWi, especially in 1 John. The first example is Matt 13:13:
DIA TOUTO EN PARABOLAIS AUTOIS LALW hOTI BLEPONTES OU BLEPOUSIN KAI AKOUONTES OUK AKOUOUSIN
(The reason I speak to them in parables is that they see but don't get it and they hear but don't
obey)

3. The third meaning is as a discourse connector that has no equivalent in English, so some English
versions simply don't translate the words, whereas many of them somewhat misleadingly translate it
by "wherefore", "therefore" or "for this reason".
In this usage, it does not link two clauses or sentences in terms of one being the reason for the
other. Rather it introduces a new and important thought that is loosely based on the theme of the
whole preceding paragraph. I would describe the meaning as "Based on the foregoing, I want to tell
you somethingimportant:"
This third meaning is not covered in a traditional dictionary like BAGD, because it can only be
described from the vantage point of discourse analysis. It often starts a new paragraph. The
difference between traditional grammar and discourse (or text) linguistics is that traditional
grammar deals with the hierarchy from morpheme to sentence, whereas text linguistics focuses on the
hierarchy form sentence to text, i.e. how sentences are built into paragraphs and how paragraphs are
built into texts. It discusses tense, demonstratives etc. from a whole text perspective and DIA
TOUTO it is able to explain things that cannot be explained in traditional "low-level" grammar.
I found 19 examples of this usage of DIA TOUTO, or about 30%. (I realize that in some cases
alternative analyses can be suggested, and there is not always a clear demarcation between 1. and
3.) One of many examples is in
Mat 12:31:
RSV: 30 He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31 DIA
TOUTO I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit
will not be forgiven. For some reason this usage is most common in Matthew, but is also found in
Luke and Paul. There are no examples in John's gospel or letters of option 3, although he is the
most prolific user of option 1 and 2.

Now, returning to Jn 7:22, I found that neither of the three options fit here. Option 1 is out,
because it cannot be a logical connector between the two sentences "I did one work, and you all
marvel" and that is why(?) "Moses gave you the circumcision". 2 is also out, because there is
nothing later that it could connect to. 3 is also out, because there is no paragraph preceding, only
one short sentence.
And even in 3, there must be some logical basis in the preceding text, even though it is a more
loose connection. There is no such basis to be found in the first sentence.
It is not a good solution to suggest a fourth usage of DIA TOUTO just to cover this instance. It is
much better to analyse these two words, not as a clause, sentence or discourse connector, but as a
simple prepositional phrase where TOUTO refers back to ERGON (or the whole sentence). This is what
was suggested above and what is found in RSV: "I did one deed, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses
gave you circumcision..." CEV has "I worked one miracle, and it amazed you." God's Word: "I
performed one miracle, and all of you are surprised by it." JBP: "I have done one thing and you are
all amazed at it." JB: "One work I did, and you are all surprised by it." NJB: "One work I did, and
you are all amazed at it." (Why they say "at it" rather than "because of it" I don't know.)
If we had the Greek text before us without punctuation, my guess is that many more translators would
have taken it to mean "and you all marvel because of this (deed)." The words have been
misunderstood, because it is so common to have them together as a connector in the beginning of a
sentence, and it is rare to have them as a prepositional phrase. But if we look at a DIA phrase
indicating reason at the end of a clause or sentence, that is quite common in John. (To continue my
good-humoured disagreement with Carl, there is no emphasis signalled by the clause-final position.)
Let me quote some examples:

4:41: EPISTEUSAN DIA TON LOGON AUTOU.
6:57a ZW DIA TON PATERA.
6:57b ZHSEI DI' EME.
7:13 DIA TON FOBON TWN IOUDAIWN.
7:43 SCISMA OUN EGENETO EN TWi OCLWi DI' AUTON.
10:19 SCISMA PALIN EGENETO EN TOIS IOUDAIOIS DIA TOUS LOGOUS TOUTOUS.
11:15 CAIRW DI' hUMAS,
12:9 HLQON OU DIA TON IHSOUN MONON,
12:30 ALLA [GEGONEN] DI' hUMAS.

I need to go back and revise my translations of John, because I didn't know this until today when I
researched it.

Iver Larsen




More information about the B-Greek mailing list