[B-Greek] John 2:15

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Mon Aug 9 14:33:19 EDT 2010

On Aug 9, 2010, at 10:53 AM, jgibson000 at comcast.net wrote:

> On 8/9/2010 8:01 AM, Barry wrote:
>> ----- 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 suggest:
>> 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 excluded.
> Not according to Jean Lasserre “Un contresens tenace,” Cahiers de la Réconciliation (October 1967): 3–21  (Englished by John Howard Yoder as "The Whip in the Temple. A Tenacious Misinterpretation",. in Occasional Papers of the Council of Mennonite Seminaries and Institute of Mennonite Studies No. 1, ed.  W. M. Swartley, Elkhart 1981, 35-49), who has examined all of the NT uses of TE KAI and who notes that in 86 of these cases a rendering comparable to "as well as the sheep and the oxen" would be impossible,  in five it would be possible but is not so rendered by translators, and that it is only in John 2:15 that translators so render it.

I've noted this before but this seems another point where it's worth mentioning that there's something questionable about accepting the NT corpus as a sufficient database for determining what legitimate Hellenistic Greek usage must be. I'm not saying that this claim about usage of TE .. KAI within the NT texts isn't true, but rather that it strikes me as a relatively limited sampling of relevant contemporaneous texts.


> To my knowledge, both Bultmann and Schnakenburg reject your view, as does G.H.C. MacGreggor (The New Testament Basis of Pacifism),  who each note that the normal sense of TE KAI is to indicate a list, not to continue a series beginning with "them all".
> If memory serves,  a full discussion of the grammatical issues involved appears in N. Clayton Croy's  "The Messianic Whippersnapper: Did Jesus Use a Whip on People in the Temple (John 2:15)?",  Journal of Biblical Literature128 (2009)  555-568.
> Jeffrey
> -- 
> Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
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