[B-Greek] A REMOTE ANTECEDENT IN JOHN 12:20-26??
lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 21 11:24:33 EDT 2010
<How remote can an antecedent be?!>
I seem to recall a Year-End B-Greek Award being given out in the late '50's that
went something like this:
MOST DISTANCE BETWEEN A PRONOUN AND ITS PRESUMED ANTECEDENT:
Ephesians 1:14, where ten verses separate AUTOU from QEOS (v. 3)
In fact, in Eph. 1 another noun (CRISTOS) occurs several times between the
antecedent and its pronoun, but my sense is that God and Jesus is a special case
of pronominal ambiguity that you find all over the place.
If your take is correct, this passage from John would be the true record.
And I think your take is correct. Jesus says the hour has now come for the
Greeks to get in on the act. It's to THEM that he is speaking. No one who seeks
fails to find.
From: Blue Meeksbay <bluemeeksbay at yahoo.com>
To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Sat, August 21, 2010 8:14:32 AM
Subject: [B-Greek] A REMOTE ANTECEDENT IN JOHN 12:20-26??
How remote can an antecedent be?!
HSAN DE hELLHNES TINES EK TWN ANABAINONTWN hINA PROSKUNHSWSIN EN THi hEORTHi•
hOUTOI OUN PROSHLQON FILIPPWi TWi APO BHQSAI+DA THS GALILAIAS KAI HRWTWN AUTON
LEGONTES• KURIE, QELOMEN TON IHSOUN IDEIN. ERCETAI hO FILIPPOS KAI LEGEI TWi
ANDREAi, ERCETAI ANDREAS KAI FILIPPOS KAI LEGOUSIN TWi IHSOU. hO DE IHSOUS
APOKRINETAI AUTOIS LEGWN• ELHLUQEN hH hWRA hINA DOXASQHi hO hUIOS TOU ANQRWPOU.
AMHN AMHN LEGW hUMIN, EAN MH hO KOKKOS TOU SITOU PESWN EIS THN GHN APOQANHi,
AUTOS MONOS MENEI• EAN DE APOQANHi, POLUN KARPON FEREI hO FILWN THN YUCHN AUTOU
APOLLUEI AUTHN, KAI hO MISWN THN YUCHN AUTOU EN TWi KOSMWi TOUTWi EIS ZWHN
AIWNION FULAXEI AUTHN. EAN EMOI TIS DIAKONHi, EMOI AKOLOUQEITW, KAI hOPOU EIMI
EGW EKEI KAI hO DIAKONOS hO EMOS ESTAI• EAN TIS EMOI DIAKONHi TIMHSEI AUTON hO
PATHR. John 12:20-26
Whenever reading this passage I have always wondered why Jesus did not receive
the Greeks. This always disturbed me. However, upon reading it again I wonder
if, perhaps, my assumption that he did not receive the Greeks was mistaken and,
in fact, he did answer the Greeks.
When I came across AUTOIS in verse 23, I took it to mean Andrew and Philip,
however, I remembered it was mentioned in an earlier post that John once used an
antecedent that was quite remote from the pronoun. This made me consider this
passage again and wonder if actually the Greeks could be the antecedent of
AUTOIS and not Andrew and Philip.
If this is true, perhaps this is how it might have happened.
Jesus was in the court of the Gentiles with his twelve disciples. Jesus,
perhaps, was standing on the southern side of the soreg and the other disciples
were gathered around him. On the outermost part of this circle stood Philip. As
such, the Greeks came up to him to see if they could ask Jesus a question.
Philip, for whatever reason, did not think he could make this decision on his
own so he goes up to Andrew. As he was whispering in Andrew’s ear, Andrew looks
over Philip's shoulder to see the Greeks that Philip was talking about. After a
short discussion, they both decide to take the request to Jesus.
Since they were all standing in a circle around Jesus, with the enquirers on the
outermost part of the circle, perhaps, the Greeks were only 8-10 feet from
Jesus. With Andrew and Philip now in the inner part of the circle, they only
needed to take a couple steps to whisper in Jesus ear that a group of Greeks
were asking to see Him. As Andrew and Philip are talking, Jesus looks up and
sees the group patiently standing on the outermost part of the circle. Jesus
then all of a sudden starts to speak to them and says, ELHLUQEN hH hWRA hINA
DOXASQHi hO hUIOS TOU ANQRWPOU. AMHN AMHN LEGW hUMIN, EAN MH hO KOKKOS TOU SITOU
PESWN EIS THN GHN APOQANHi, AUTOS MONOS MENEI• EAN DE APOQANHi, POLUN KARPON
FEREI ..., etc. probably to verse 27 where Jesus begins a new discourse to
everyone gathered nearby.
One other point I noticed. John uses the word APARNEOMAI77 times in his gospel.
Seventy-three times he uses the aorist tense and four times he uses the present
tense. Of those 73 times sometimes it is used in response to an actual
question, but most of the time he uses it with EIPEN to introduce a simple
(Just as an aside, is the use of APARNEOMAI with LEGW a common idiom in extra
biblical texts? As most probably have noticed this combination had been reduced
to a form of LEGW in many modern translations, leaving out APARNEOMAI in the
However, getting back to John’s use of the present tense, why switch to a
present tense in this case when he almost always uses the aorist? Could it be
used to indicate the suddenness of Jesus’ answer? One thing I have noticed is
that in the other three instances of the present tense of this word in this
Gospel it is used in response to an actual question, and not just a simple
statement. Therefore, could this be a slight indication that Jesus is responding
to the inquiry of the Greeks. Other times the writer of the Gospel of John
indicates that Jesus knew beforehand what was in the hearts of those whom he
conversed. Could verse 22-26 actually be an answer to the question on the hearts
of the Greeks? Or, if not, could it be a response to correct their expectation
of what they understood would be the mission and objective of a Jewish Messiah?
More than likely these Greeks were God-fearers from afar who had heard of Jesus
from some returning Jews who had previously been to Jerusalem.
Does anyone think it is doing an injustice to the text to understand AUTOIS as
referring to hELLHNES? Just how far away can we take an antecedent without
getting ridiculous in our analysis? Does anyone know of other such examples
where the antecedent is this far removed?
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