[B-Greek] John 2:15

Barry nebarry at verizon.net
Mon Aug 9 09:01:33 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net>
To: "greek B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sunday, August 08, 2010 9:45 PM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] John 2:15

> One might receive a bit of instruction about this passage by taking a 
> gander at the standard translations. The NEB suggests that Jesus uses the 
> whip on all of the men: "Jesus made a whip of cords and drove them out of 
> the temple, sheep, cattle, and all." The NRSV and NIV suggest that he uses 
> the whip only on the cattle and sheep: "Making a whip of cords, he drove 
> all (PANTAS EXEBALEN) of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the 
> cattle." Who/what does PANTAS (all) refer to? PANTAS is a plural 
> masculine. The masculine does not correspond to the PROBATA (sheep), which 
> is neuter, although it agrees with BOAS (oxen), which is masculine. Verse 
> 15 dies imply that Jesus makes the whip because he finds in the temple 
> those who sell cattle, sheep, and doves--and the moneychangers seated at 
> their tables. But did Jesus use  his whip only on the sheep and cattle? 
> The basis for the NIV and NRSV is the construction TE ... KAI (cf. 4:32 
> and 6:18).  TE ... KAI subdivides a subject or object previously mentioned 
> into its component parts. PANTAS refers to the sheep and cattle and not 
> men. However, it is difficult to take the sheep and oxen in apposition 
> with PANTAS (all) because PROBATA (sheep) is neuter. Still, the 
> grammatical rule, as I have intuited it, is that the adjective, when 
> qualifying two nouns of different genders, agrees with the masculine or 
> feminine noun rather than with the neuter noun, irrespective of position. 
> One might also make the further point that if Jesus had used the whip on 
> people he would most certainly have been in trouble immediately. 
> Furthermore, taking the PANTAS as referring to animals clears up the 
> question of why Jesus speaks to those who sell the doves and tells them to 
> take them out of the temple. I.e., why didn't he just drive them out too? 
> Presumably, when he turned over the money changers tables a general 
> confusion would have ensued as everyone went scampering for the loose 
> coins, some trying to make off with some extra cash while others attempted 
> to recover their money. It seems best to conclude that John portrays Jesus 
> using the whip on the animals while the human beings tried to recover 
> their goods.

Very good, Yancy.  After I made my confident assertion, you came up with 
nicely plausible reasoning for showing why the Greek can admit to 
restricting the reference to the animals!  :)

I had no idea that this was at all controversial, until I looked at some of 
the commentary literature.  The commentaries I consulted were about evenly 
divided on the subject.  From a strictly syntactical viewpoint, allow me to 

1) It is natural to take πάντας, PANTAS, as referring to what comes before, 
which would include everybody, animals and the humans associated with them. 
Carl has already pointed this out.

2) The question then becomes whether or not τε ... καί, TE...KAI (an unusual 
construction in John), is exclusive.  I seen no reason that it should be 
considered so.  It may be read as specifiying constituent elements of the 
PANTAS by way of emphasis, but that doesn't mean that the money changers are 

This means that the "resolution" must be sought on broader hermeneutical 
grounds which I don't think the moderators would care for us to pursue.

But Yancy, thanks for reminding me that my personal confidence in how right 
I am doesn't necessarily equate to reality!  :)

N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Classics and Bible Instructor, TAA
(2010 Savatori Excellence in Education Winner)
Mentor, TNARS


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