[B-Greek] Matthew 26:64 συ ειπας

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sat Oct 24 09:19:42 EDT 2009


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Cornell Machiavelli" <cornellmachiavelli at yahoo.com>
To: "Elizabeth Kline" <kline_dekooning at earthlink.net>
Cc: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 24. oktober 2009 01:50
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Matthew 26:64 συ ειπας


> Elizabeth,
>
> You wrote:
>
> "The search of TLG-E seems to indicate that SU EIPAS in answer to a
> question was NOT an established greek idiom. I appears to function in
> the passion narratives as a means for throwing a question back at
> questioner without giving a definite answer."
>
> But the expression SU + LEGW/EIPAS means "yes" in all its usages, not just the
> passion section. I would say the translation of this unusual idiom might be
> open for refinement, but all the usages in the GNT (all, if my Accordance is
> working) of SU + LEGW, when used in a question, returns a "yes" answer. What
> I'm trying to determine is the 'origin' of this expression. Can anyone do an
> LXX search or pre-CE Greek literary (or Latin) search? Is the TLG search
> engine open to the public?
>
> Sincerely,
>
> C. Q. Machiavelli

Why are you saying that "the usages" returns a "yes" answer?

As far as I can see there are 3 cases where Jesus uses this kind of response,
and it may be helpful to look at them in some detail:

1. Jesus responds to Judas- Mat 26:25:
ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ Ἰούδας ὁ παραδιδοὺς αὐτὸν εἶπεν, Μήτι ἐγώ εἰμι, ῥαββί; λέγει αὐτῷ,
Σὺ εἶπας.
APOKRIQEIS DE IOUDAS HO PARADIDOUS AUTON EIPEN: MHTI EGW EIMI, RABBI? LEGEI
AUTWi: SU EIPAS!
(Then Judas, who was the one to betray him, responded and said: Surely, it is
not me, Teacher? He says to him: Now you have said it yourself!)
Jesus indicates the deception of Judas by throwing his dishonest question back
to himself. It is somewhat like a yes, but with various overtones: "Yes, and you
know it despite your refusal to acknowledge it." Jesus often does not respond
directly, but in such a way as to make the person think for himself.

This interchange is only in Matthew. Mark left it out when he "edited" Matthew 
for
his Gentile audience, and Luke has a different summary, possibly from a
different source. Or he is rephrasing Matt 26:22 at this point.

2. Jesus responds to the High Priest:
Mat 26:63-4: ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ἐξορκίζω σε κατὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος ἵνα
ἡμῖν εἴπῃς εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ.  λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Σὺ εἶπας·
πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν,
hO ARCIEREUS EIPEN AUTWi: EXORKIZW SE KATA TOU QEOU TOU ZWNTOS hINA hHMIN EIPHiS
EI SU EI hO CRISTOS hO hUIOS TOU QEOU. LEGEI AUTWi hO IHSOUS: SU EIPAS, PLHN
LEGW hUMIN...
(The chief priest said to him: I adjure you by the living God that you tell us
if you are (what some people say about you): "the Anointed One, the son of God".
Jesus said to him: Now you have said it yourself, however, I am telling you...

The Chief Priest did not believe that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the Son of
God. But now that he has said the words, Jesus says: Ok, yes I am in a way, even
if you don't believe it or acknowledge it, however, not the way you think of the
Messiah, so let me say some more about myself, the Son of Man...

When Mark "edited" Matthew he simplified the answer to EGW EIMI (14:62).

Luke 23:67-70 has a somewhat different account.
In v. 67 the Chief Priest asks: "If you are the Anointed One, tell us!" Jesus
then responds to indicate the unbelief and hypocrisy of the council: "If I tell
you, you will not believe, and if I ask you an honest question, you will not
answer." He then talks about being seated at the right hand of God. This sounds
like blasphemy (since they did not believe it to be true), but the Chief Priest
wants a more direct answer, so he asks: "So, are you the Son of God?" To this,
Jesus replies: "You people are the ones saying that I am."
This is not a clear yes, partly because Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, but
not in the way the council thinks of the Messiah. A simple and direct "yes"
might indicate that Jesus agreed with their perception of the Messiah and their
accusations.

I see a slight difference between the aorist tense/perfective aspect and the
present tense/imperfective aspect. The imperfective indicates an incomplete
answer: "Yes, sort of, but more needs to be said". I would say that aorist EIPON
plus PLHN is equivalent to present LEGW alone. The fronted SU also indicates a
contrast between what YOU are saying and how I would frame it.

3. Jesus responds to Pilate:

Mat 27:11 καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτὸν ὁ ἡγεμὼν λέγων, Σὺ εἶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; ὁ
δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἔφη, Σὺ λέγεις.
KAI EPHRWTHSEN AUTON hO hHGEMWN LEGWN: SU EI hO BASILEUS TWN IOUDAIWN? hO DE
IHSOUS EFH: SU LEGEIS.
(And the governor asked him saying: "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus said:
"You are the one saying it.")
The imperfective aspect indicates a half-yes. In a certain way I am that king
but not the political king that I am accused of. It was not a clear answer, but
Pilate understood well enough that he was not claiming to be a political king,
but some kind of religious figure.

Here Mark 15:2 and Luke 23:3 copy the same imperfective aspect: SU LEGEIS.

What is implicit in the accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke is spelled out in
great detail in John 18:34-37. I assume that John gives us a better picture of
what actually transpired, while the Synoptics shortened it a lot.

Iver Larsen




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