[B-Greek] John 2:15

dlpost at comcast.net dlpost at comcast.net
Fri Aug 13 07:32:41 EDT 2010

And, after all of that "making sense", there is still nothing to hang one's hat upon. 

Doug Post  
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Leonard Jayawardena" <leonardj at live.com> 
To: "Blue Meeksbay" <bluemeeksbay at yahoo.com> 
Cc: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org 
Sent: Friday, August 13, 2010 7:08:34 AM 
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] John 2:15 

> Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2010 11:11:15 -0700 
> From: bluemeeksbay at yahoo.com 
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] John 2:15 
> To: leonardj at live.com 
> CC: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org 

Blue Meeksbay wrote: 

> I agree with you that the actions, more than likely, occurred at the 
> same time. However, Carl Conrad's take that PANTAS refers back to verse 
> 14 seems to make more sense, not because the language would not allow 
> it to refer only to the sheep and oxen, (as Yancy showed in his 
> excellent post), 

LJ: No one is saying that PaNTAS is not referring back to v. 14. The question is, what exactly does it refer back to? Is it the sellers and the moneychangers or just the sheep and the oxen? Let me illustrate this with a hypothetical example (pl. excuse any shortcomings in my Greek). 


(Translation: A man entered his house and saw a basket having loaves in it and another basket having fish in it and he ate all.) 

Did the man eat (a) the two baskets with their contents or (b) just the loaves and the fish? If this sentence stood in isolation, I am sure that, while most would prefer (b) above, some might feel that grammatically a more "natural" antecedent of PANTAS was (a)--after all people do eat unusual things sometimes, including glass or even small aircraft! 

Now if we added the words TA TE ICQUDIA KAI TOUS ARTOUS after EFAGEN PANTAS, would you translate it as "both the fish and the loaves" or "with the fish and the loaves"? Obviously the former because it clarifies the ambiguity. 

We have a similar situation with John 2:15. It may be that the writer expected his readers to understand PANTAS to refer back only to the animals mentioned in v. 14 and not to the sellers, because to his mind and that of his readers Jesus--or any sensible person for that matter--entering the temple and starting to assault people with a whip--which would normally be used to drive animals anyway (think about the horsewhip)--to drive them out with their merchandise was as unlikely as people eating baskets. On this view, the words TA TE PROBATA KAI TOUS BOAS are an afterthought, as I explained in an earlier post: PANTAS is intended to refer only to the animals (the sheep and the oxen) mentioned in the preceding verse, but because of the possibility of PANTAS being taken only with BOAS (both masculine), the writer adds "both the sheep and the oxen."(Someone suggested under this thread that TA TE PROBATA KAI TOUS BOAS is in partitive apposition to PANTAS.) 

(To drive home the point that Jesus entering the temple and starting to attack the traders with a whip to drive them out with their merchandise defies logic and common sense, consider this example. Suppose you return from a vacation to find one of the rooms in your house occupied by a stranger with his personal belongings, say, a TV, radio and some books. what would you do [assume that you don't want the police to get involved]? You would first ask him to leave. And if he refused, what would you do? Would you beat him until he left your house, grabbing his belongings, or just pick up his stuff and deposit it outside your premises, say, on the road, thus compelling him to leave your house? I know what a sensible person would do. Violence against the person would be used only as a last resort. In the case of Jesus cleansing temple, simply driving out the animals, overturning the tables of moneychangers, etc. would have been sufficient to drive out the traders and it evidently w 
 as. There is, therefore, an overwhelming presumption against Jesus using the whip against the traders. Consider again that a whip is more naturally used against animals, not humans. Consider also TA TE PROBATA KAI TOUS BOAS.) 

This leads me to a question. In English when the "both...and ..." structure is used, the second element is emphasized, e.g., the sentence "Both A and B were convicted of murder," in a context where there is a possibility of omitting B. In speaking, we would stress "and." When the TE ... KAI ... structure is rendered "both .. and ..." in English, which of the two elements is emphasized, if any? Does anyone know? Is it possible that the element most closely associated syntactically to TE is emphasized? Consider Hebrews 9:9: 


Many translations render DWRA TE KAI QUSIAI as "both gifts and sacrifices." Is it possible that the TE ... KAI ... structure is used above to prevent the possibility of seeing only QUSIAI as being qualified by DUNAMENAI, the adjective being feminine? Note that TE is associated with DWRA. 

Contrast this with Ephesians 9:9 (and para. in Colossians): YALMOIS KAI hUMNOIS KAI hWDAIS PNEUMATIKAIS. An ambiguous phrase because grammatically both "spiritual psalms, hymns and songs" (my preference) and "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" are possible. 

Now look at John 2:15 again. TE is associated with PROBATA in TA TE PROBATA KAI TOUS BOAS. If it can be proved that the element associated with the particle TE in a TE ... KAI ... structure is emphazised, then it will corroborate the view that these words are added to show that PANTAS refers not only to BOAS but also to PROBATA mentioned in v. 14. 

Then there is, of course, the matter of the legitimacy of translating TA TE PROBATA KAI TOUS BOAS as anything other than "both sheep and oxen" here. Is any one aware of a passage in hellenistic Greek or classical Greek which would justify the following translations in John 2:15? 

"also the sheep, and the oxen"--Youngs Literal Translation 

"with the sheep and the oxen'--New American Standard Version (If the writer wanted to say "with the sheep and the oxen," why couldn't he just say SUN TOIS PROBATOIS KAI TOIS BOASIN?) 

The King James Version has "and the sheep, and the oxen." 

PAS is used in rather unusual ways in the Bible. Look at 1 Corinthians 


The first PANTES refers to all men universally. Symmetry would require the second PANTES to be co-referential with the first PANTES, but it is actually otherwise. The referent of the second PANTES has to be inferred from the preceding context and it is those who have died in Christ. The second part of the verse makes this clear. 

Further excerpts from your post: 

>but simply because the context seems to demand it. 
> If EXEBALEN referred only to the sheep and oxen, it would take some 
> time to drive them out from the court of the Gentiles through the sheep 
> gate and EK TOU hIEROU. From extra-biblical sources we have 
> indications that there were not just a few animals there, but there may 
> have been hundreds of sheep and oxen. Indeed, there could have easily 
> been over a thousand animals. Who knows how long that would take? 
> (Alfred Edersheim mentions that at a previous time 3000 sheep had been 
> introduced into the temple precincts.) 

> But, of course, that is not what it said. Also, I am not even sure one 
> man could drive out so many animals by himself, especially with so many 
> other people milling around. 

LJ: The problems that you imagine do not necessarily exist. For one thing, Jesus was not alone. The presence of his disciples is implied in v. 22 and they would have assisted him. And there can be a different reconstruction of the events. Jesus opens a pen and drives the sheep or the oxen out, his disciples assisting him, while he shouts to the sellers of doves to take their birds away, while overturning the tables. The owner of the sheep or the oxen runs after his animals to prevent them from going astray. All this while, the other traders are staring uncomprehendingly. Jesus approaches another pen and repeats the process. By this time, some of the other traders get the message and coorporate with Jesus, and the rest of the traders follow suit fast. Even in your reconstruction, Jesus did not have to drive out all the traders himself. Or maybe Jesus first went up and down the stalls in the court of the Gentiles and declared his intentions to the traders, so that when they saw 
  him driving out the first sheep and oxen, they knew that he meant business and did not wait for the inevitable. 

Leonard Jayawardena                                                
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