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

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Wed May 27 01:16:42 EDT 2009


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Elizabeth Kline" <kline_dekooning at earthlink.net>
To: "BG" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 26. maj 2009 22:04
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] 2COR. 1:8 AGNOEIN hUPER ...
>
> 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 would not fault the fronting, since word order in English functions almost 
opposite to how it works in Greek. What is in focus is that Paul wants the 
readers to know something, and he thinks it is important that they know.
The double negative called litotes - not to be uanware - is not normal English. 
It signals emphasis and it would be better English to say: I really want you to 
know...

> 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
> οἰκοδομεῖ·
>
> 1COR. 8:1 PERI DE TWN EIDWLOQUTWN, OIDAMEN hOTI PANTES GNWSIN ECOMEN.
> hH GNWSIS FUSIOI, hH DE AGAPH OIKODOMEI·

Well, I don't think the word order here tells us anything about what the readers 
may already know or not know. And I don't think the hUPER functions quite like 
the PERI in 1Cor 8:1.
PERI DE in the beginning of a sentence introduces and puts focus on the topic 
for the following discussion. It occurs 6 times in 1 Cor, but never in 2 Cor. It 
is usually (5 out of 6) followed by a rather lengthy exposition about the topic. 
In one of these places (1 Cor 12:1) we also have OU QELW hUMAS AGNOEIN. This is 
unrelated to the occurrence of PERI DE and serves to emphasize the importance of 
the instruction as Carl already mentioned.

>
> 2COR. 1:8 OU GAR QELOMEN hUMAS AGNOEIN, ADELFOI, hUPER THS QLIYEWS
> hHMWN THS GENOMENHS EN THi ASIAi, hOTI
>
> 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.

This is where Harris' theoretical framework IMO is unable to deal adequately 
with the complexities of Greek grammar.

It is a feature of Greek that the language is able to attach a lot of 
prepositional phrases to a verb and they function as secondary arguments to the 
verb. They do not "modify the whole sentence" except in the sense that the verb 
is the nucleus of the sentence. AGNOEIN can have an agent expressed as subject, 
an object expressed as an accusative noun or a hOTI clause and it can also have 
a peripheral argument in various roles expressed through the use of various 
prepositions. All of these may occur together. There is nothing unusual about 
that and nothing unusual about this particular verb.

Let me just give one example from 1 Cor 1:4:
Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑμῖν ἐν 
Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ
EUCARISTW TWi QEWi MOU PANTOTE PERI hUMWN EPI THi CARITI TOU QEOU THi DOQEISHi 
hUMIN EN CRISTWi IHSOU
(I thank my God always on your behalf for the grace of God which is given you in 
Jesus Christ)
EUCARISTEW has two primary arguments, the agent as subject and the recipient of 
the thanks in dative. It might have a secondary argument introduced by hOTI, but 
this is debatable, and I prefer to take these hOTI clauses as causal subordinate 
clauses, e.g. Luk 18:11:
Ὁ θεός, εὐχαριστῶ σοι ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ ὥσπερ οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων
hO QEOS, EUCARISTW SOI hOTI OUK EIMI hWSPER hOI LOIPOI TWN ANQWPWN.
The English versions I have checked translate hOTI by "that", but it could also 
be taken as "because": I thank you, God, because I am not like these other 
people. It is one of those cases where hOTI is ambiguous, and it doesn't really 
make any difference to the sense intended. When Margaret Sim calls this a 
"representation of a thought" she is trying to cover the various uses of hOTI 
under one umbrella and let the context decide the more detailed use in a 
particular instance. Whether you translate by "that" or by "because" the clause 
expresses the reason why the Pharisee is grateful to God.

But notice the other prepositional phrases in 1 Cor 1.4: PERI - with reference 
to, and EPI - on the basis of. They are all attached to the main verb. The verb 
"to give" in the relative clause is a typical trivalent verb with an Agent, 
Patient and Beneficiary (God gave you grace). Then there is an additional phrase 
EN CRISTWi which is a favorite in Paul and it is a short way of referring to "by 
way of what Christ has done for you".

Having so many arguments attached to a verb is less common in English, and that 
may be what causes Harris to say what he does and it may also have caused (N)RSV 
to consider the hOTI clause as a separate clause in a causal relationship rather 
than the "object" or "content clause" belonging to AGNOEIN. However, we tend to 
see a greater distinction in the various uses of hOTI than a native speaker 
would probably do, because we have to use different translations for the same 
Greek word. If we follow M. Sim and think of hOTI as representational, it is 
easier to allow for both translations and also easier to see why so many modern 
versions don't translate the hOTI in this verse, but leave the intended 
implication to context entirely.

In 2Cor 1:8 the phrase hUPER THS QLIYEWS hHMWN THS GENOMENHS EN THi ASIAi is not 
emphasized in any way. It is almost parenthetical. It does give some background 
information about where the trouble took place, but the important thing is the 
severity of the trouble, which is going to be elaborated on. Whereas 1 Cor is 
basically an expositional genre where Paul wants to clarify and teach on a 
number of topics, 2 Cor is primarily a hortatory genre for the purpose of 
encouragement. The purpose of the section where 1:8 is included is to encourage 
the readers to endure hardship, and he does that by recounting a personal 
experience. This is clear from the preceding and following verses.

Iver Larsen 




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