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

Elizabeth Kline kline_dekooning at earthlink.net
Tue May 26 15:04:35 EDT 2009

Thank you Iver. Reading your post several times has helped clarify a  
number of issues.

M.J. Harris is a very thorough and careful exegete who works within  
the "traditional" grammatical-historical exegetical framework. For  
that reason you will not find him doing semantic analysis using terms  
like agent, patient, primary and secondary arguments, ktl. The key  
statement on p 153[1] "... only the hOTI clause defines the content of  
AGNOEIN." Harris' personal English rendering is

"Now about the affliction that overtook us in Asia, we do not want you  
to be unaware ... that ...".

I suggested earlier that the "fronting" of the hUPER clause has  
functional significance. "Now about ...  Asia"  anchors  what follows  
to what is assumed to be accessible knowledge within the cognitive  
framework of the addressees. It functions like the PERI clause in  
1COR. 8:1.

1Cor. 8:1 Περὶ δὲ τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων,  
οἴδαμεν ὅτι πάντες γνῶσιν ἔχομεν. ἡ  
γνῶσις φυσιοῖ, ἡ δὲ ἀγάπη  


Therefore I am drawing the inference from Harris' statement "... only  
the hOTI clause defines the content of AGNOEIN" that the hUPER clause  
contains a reference to information the the addressees already have. I  
am NOT certain that fronting in English or Greek is required to  
achieve this result.


An open question: is the clause order in the greek text of 2COR. 1:8 a  
determining factor?  If THS QLIYEWS ... ASIAi was in front of the main  
verb cluster QELOMEN hUMAS AGNOEIN would it be assumed that THS  
QLIYEWS ... ASIAi was information already accessible to the addressees?

I think Harris agrees with you on hOTI and I agree with you about the  
NRSV and would add yet another objection

2Cor. 1:8 ¶ We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of  
the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly,  
unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself.  NRSV

This appears to make the hUPER clause a second object of AGNOEIN which  
is precisely what Harris denies. Your English version of the Danish  
looks like it does the same thing, makes the hUPER clause part of  
CONTENT of the message about which Paul is concerned that they not be  
ignorant, contra Harris.

> "We would like to tell you, my dear friends, that the troubles we  
> experienced in the province of
> Asia were so overwhelming..."

Thank you,

Elizabeth Kline

[1] I understand that not everyone can download this page from google  
books. For those who can the search string is:  "severity of the  
particular incident" Harris

On May 26, 2009, at 12:52 AM, Iver Larsen wrote:

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