[B-Greek] John 8:17 DE

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Fri Jul 9 14:06:48 EDT 2010


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carl Conrad" <cwconrad2 at mac.com>
To: "Marilyn Phemister" <windmill65 at yahoo.com>
Cc: "B-Greek" <B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 8. juli 2010 01:40
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] John 8:17 DE


>
> On Jul 7, 2010, at 5:19 PM, Marilyn Phemister wrote:
>
>> **Esteemed Scholars:
>>
>> I am puzzled about DE in John 8:17.  It seems to me that the verse would be
>> translated the same with or without it. I'm afraid this is a silly question,
>> but can someone tell me why DE is there? Is it translated AND or But with KAI
>> being translated as ALSO?  That would make sense to me, but I still wonder
>> why it is needed.
>>
>> John 8:17: καὶ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ δὲ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ γέγραπται ὅτι δύο ἀνθρώπων ἡ μαρτυρία
>> ἀληθής ἐστιν.
>> KAI EN TWi NOMWi DE TWi hUMETERWi GEGRAPTAI hOTI DUO ANQRWPWN hH MARTURIA
>> ALHQHS ESTIN.
>
> What's odd here is not so much the presence of the DE as its positioning after
> the entire phrase KAI EN TWi NOMWi, which the writer must have deemed a unit
> that could not be split, although the attributive/appositional TWi hUMETERWi
> could be appended after it.
>
> I think the sequence of verses 16 and 17 needs to be noted:
>
> John 8:16 καὶ ἐὰν κρίνω δὲ ἐγώ, ἡ κρίσις ἡ ἐμὴ ἀληθινή ἐστιν, ὅτι μόνος οὐκ
> εἰμί, ἀλλ᾿ ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πέμψας με πατήρ.  17 καὶ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ δὲ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ
> γέγραπται ὅτι δύο ἀνθρώπων ἡ μαρτυρία ἀληθής ἐστιν.
> [John 8:16 KAI EAN KRINW DE EGW, hH KRISIS hH EMH ALHQINH ESTIN, hOTI MONOS
> OUK EIMI, ALL᾿ EGW KAI hO PEMYAS ME PATHR.  17 KAI EN TWi NOMWi DE TWi
> hUMETERWi GEGRAPTAI hOTI DUO ANQRWPWN hH MARTURIA ALHQHS ESTIN.]
>
> In my opinion, Jesus in verse 16 is speaking of judgment in terms of his
> eschatological authority; in verse 17 he switches the discussion of the terms
> of Judaic legal practice: "Even by YOUR law ... " So what does the DE
> accomplish? I think it marks a contrast between absolute attestation and
> judgment and Mosaic traditions of attestation and judgment. As FWSFOROS MARKOS
> has put it, "Even in your law, after all, it is written ... " or "But even in
> your law, it stands written ... " I think there is a contrast marked by this
> DE, but Greek tends to use the connectives more generously than English; it
> really isn't needed in the English, but it can be supplied.
>
> Nevertheless, one might have expected a sequence like GEGRAPTAI DE KAI EN TWi
> NOMWi TWi hUMETERWi hOTI ... I say, "one might expect" -- but maybe I'm the
> only one who would expect that.
>
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

I would not have expected the verb to be initial, since there is no emphasis or
focus on the fact that the law has been written. That is old hat/information.

IMO, neither "but" or "after all" catches the intended meaning of DE (and
particles DO have meaning, but not at the word level). English is particularly
short of particles compared to most other languages, so it is often difficult to
translate them.

Stephen Levinsohn has described DE as introducing a new development unit,
although he does not claim that this is its only usage. Randall Buth talks about
DE showing a change of some kind.

To get the background for DE we need to go back to v. 13 where the Pharisees
complain that when a person testifies about himself, it is not a valid
testimony, so Jesus cannot testify about himself. Jesus counters that in two
ways. His first argument is that the rule about a person not testifying about
himself does not apply to him, since he is the son of God and was sent from God,
the Father. Therefore, he always speaks the truth unlike what humans may do.
That first argument is developed in verses 14-16. In v. 17, he changes to a
different argument or a new development in his argumentation, and that is what
DE signifies. He refers to the law they know so well (even in your law, no
emphasis on "your") which says that by two witnesses who agree, a testimony is
deemed to stand. Jesus uses this rule to state that his testimony is true, since
there are two witnesses: himself - as totally and always truthful - and the
Father. The Pharisees then wonder where they can get the testimony of his father
to corroborate it.

For translation into English "and" would be the closest here, since it
introduces an additional, but different, argument.

Iver Larsen




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