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Monday, May 02, 2011

greek article & scenarios John 20:28, Rev 2:26

It two previous posts here and here, we looked at the pattern: article noun καὶ noun, arguing that the two nouns were not necessarily coreferential but they did open up a single scenario. In this post we will look at the pattern where the article is repeated.

John 20:28 ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου. 

In a pattern:  article noun καὶ article noun, where the article is repeated with the second noun, the two nouns may be coreferential but they do not necessarily open up a single scenario. In the case of John 20:28 we know the two nouns are coreferential because they are introduced with a a standard verbal reply formula: ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ  with a singular dative pronoun αὐτῷ indicating the addressee. R. A. Hoyle’s analysis:

… both terms clearly refer to the same individual, Jesus. The article before θεός argues against Thomas’s words being a simple doublet, as does the repetition of μου. Either, then, Thomas identifies Jesus with two separate concepts, my Lord (whom I obey) and my God (whom I worship), or this is, like Revelation 2:26, a restatement “My Lord, that is to say my God”. I argue that the repetition of the article shows that it cannot be a doublet, two words referring to the same scenario, “my (Lord and God)”.     — R. A. Hoyle [1]

The scenario referenced by  ὁ κύριός μου is probably not the same as the scenario referenced by ὁ θεός μου. This does not keep the two noun phrases from being coreferential. We find another illustration in Revelation 2:26.

Rev. 2:26 Καὶ ὁ νικῶν καὶ ὁ τηρῶν ἄχρι τέλους τὰ ἔργα μου, δώσω αὐτῷ ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν 

In this example, the referent is a type of person, not a specific historical individual. Once again the use of the singular dative pronoun δώσω αὐτῷ indicates that the two participles ὁ νικῶν καὶ ὁ τηρῶν are coreferential. However, the two participles do not appear to open up the same scenario. ὁ νικῶν invokes a combat metaphor, engaging in spiritual warfare and prevailing against the enemy. ὁ τηρῶν ἄχρι τέλους τὰ ἔργα μου invokes an obedience scenario.  

[1]  Richard A. Hoyle, Scenarios, discourse and translation, SIL 2008, p.236.


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