[B-Greek] John 8:17 DE

John Sanders john.franklin.sanders at gmail.com
Tue Jul 13 01:00:27 EDT 2010

A few comments with a slightly different viewpoint on the use of these two
particles in Greek:

If I am reading from an “educated Greek” writing “proper” Greek; that is,
one who was educated in the language (either as a first language or second
language) I the tradition from Homer through Plato through Lysias and
company down to the present time (his present time, circa NT times or so),
then I would expect him to use the particle “DE” as indicated by Dr. Conrad

DE, as I understand it, is a “continuing” particle.  That is it continues
the discourse.  But it does so in a specific way.  It is “post positive” and
the word or phrase that precedes it is the word or phrase that it links the
continuation of the discourse to.  Some writers are very liberal with its
use, but others are more judicious.  From the latter one can develop an idea
how the writer organizes his discourse.

KAI, on the other hand, is generally a coordinating particle, both within
the clausal level and between clauses.  But it can be used as a “continuing”
particle.  That is, instead of being coordinated with a previous clause, it
also can continue the clause with the previous clause in a sequential
discourse.  But it is not necessarily post positive, therefore there is no
special word or phrase that it depends on.

But then this is what I would expect from an a writer writing in the Greek
tradition.  This in not what John is doing.  He does not follow the
traditional way of writing Greek (or so I suspect).

John instead uses KAI as the continuing particle.  DE is used as a particle
that marks the preceding word or phrase in some fashion (perhaps as Iver has
indicated, but I am not sure we need to be that restrictive).

So, if I look at verse 17, I would think that KAI is the continuing
particle; EN TW NOMW is the phrase emphasized by John , and DE is the
emphasizing particle.  Likewise I see the same situation in verse 16 with
KAI the continuing particle, EAV KRINW the phrase emphasized and DE the
emphasizing particle.

In the latter part of verse 14, beginning with UMEIS DE I think, although it
can be read in the tradition way, that John is not doing so, but rather is
just emphasizing the UMEIS rather than continuing the clause with the
preceding.  So I would English it something like:  You all haven’t a clue as
to where I’m from or where I’m going.

Just some trivia.  In chapter eight of John, there are to my count 20
instances where DE is used, 11 of them in the first 11 verses.  These 11
verses are the Adulteress pericope, which is usually considered not written
by John.  As I read these verses, DE appears to me to be used in a
traditional Greek way, not the “normal” way John uses the term.

So, to answer the question, according to how I read this text, both terms
are required.  Not because it is required by Greek tradition but because
John does not follow that tradition in respect to the use of DE and KAI

John Sanders
Suzhou, China

On Thu, Jul 8, 2010 at 5:19 AM, Marilyn Phemister <windmill65 at yahoo.com>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.
> Thanks,
> Marilyn Phemister
> ---
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