[B-Greek] 2COR. 1:8 AGNOEIN hUPER ...

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Tue May 26 03:52:44 EDT 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Elizabeth Kline" <kline_dekooning at earthlink.net>
To: "greek B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 25. maj 2009 07:58
Subject: [B-Greek] 2COR. 1:8 AGNOEIN hUPER ...

> 2Cor. 1:8 Οὐ γὰρ θέλομεν ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν,
> ἀδελφοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς θλίψεως ἡμῶν τῆς
> γενομένης ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ, ὅτι καθ᾿
> ὑπερβολὴν ὑπὲρ δύναμιν ἐβαρήθημεν
> ὥστε ἐξαπορηθῆναι ἡμᾶς καὶ τοῦ
> ζῆν·
> According to M.J. Harris:2005 (2Cor NIGTC p153)[1],  hUPER ... EN THi
> ASIAi is not an argument of AGNOEIN which he claims never (in Paul)
> takes a hUPER "clause" as an argument. Harris says that AGNOEIN
> typically takes a hOTI clause, an accusative or PERI. He suggests that
> the  hUPER "clause modifies the whole sentence".

I think what Harris is trying to get at is the difference in semantics between primary and secondary

A verb like "know" has two primary roles or arguments, an Agent and a Patient. When the word is used
in its active form, the Agent is the subject and the Patient is the object. The Patient may be
expressed as a noun in the accusative (I know *you*) or as a clause which in Greek is typically
introduced by hOTI (I know *that you are suffering*.)
Now, it is possible to add secondary arguments to a semantic verb, and this is typically done in
Greek and English by prepositions. In Greek, both PERI and hUPER can be used to introduce such a
secondary argument, and there seems to be as must difference in meaning between the two as there is
between English "concerning", "regarding" and "about". He might be saying that PERI is closer to
"about" and hUPER closer to "regarding".

Now look at: "I want you to know something about semantics". We have the two primary arguments, "I"
and "something", plus a third argument which introduces the general topic without being specific as
to what I want you to know about it. Notice that the second argument (something) is semantically
empty. It may be present like in Acts 24:22: EIDWS TA PERI THS hODOU (having known the
things/something about the "way"). But it can easily be left out, because the general topic is
mentioned. The more specific content may be covered in the following context. See 1 Cor 12:1 and
1Thes 4:15, the other two instances in Paul with a secondary argument for AGNOIEN.

Harris does not discuss (in the given excerpt) the more interesting thing in this construction,
namely the function of hOTI. This could very well introduce the semantic Patient for AGNOEIN.

RSV and NRSV takes the hOTI in the sense of "for":
"...we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; *for* we
were so utterly, unbearably crushed..." I am pretty sure RSV got it wrong.

NET and many others interpret the hOTI as introducing the second argument for AGNOEIN:
"..we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to
us in the province of Asia, *that* we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength..

So, what Harris might intend by his "modifies the whole sentence" is that the hUPER phrase, which
includes a rankshifted relative clause, is not a primary argument of the verb, but a secondary (or
peripheral) argument, and the Patient, which is a primary argument, is marked in the syntax by hOTI,
as is common for this verb:

I want you to know concerning our trouble (which happened in Asia) that it was extremely

The majority of English versions follow this interpretation. Some leave out the word "that" for
stylistic reasons, and because it is not required in English. You expect the next sentence to
explain what it is Paul wants people to know, once he has introduced the general topic.

In our own idiomatic translation in Danish, we dropped hUPER and kept hOTI as "that", but rearranged
to something like:
"We would like to tell you, my dear friends, that the troubles we experienced in the province of
Asia were so overwhelming..."

Iver Larsen

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