Luke 6:20 vocative?

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Mark Goodacre
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Joined: May 31st, 2011, 10:07 am

Luke 6:20 vocative?

Post by Mark Goodacre » June 1st, 2011, 3:01 pm

I'm just reading an article by Charles L. Quarles, "The Use of the Gospel of Thomas in the Research on the Historical Jesus of John Dominic Crossan", CBQ 69 (2007): 517-36 in which he writes, "Since the causal clause that follows the Beatitude in Luke uses second person forms, however, οἱ πτωχοί in Luke is very likely vocative" (521). I have never seen this before. Can anyone make any sense of it? The standard translations are "Blessed are the poor" or "Blessed are (you) poor", the latter taking the direct address from the subsequent clause, ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. Surely οἱ πτωχοί is nominative, and a blessing is being predicated of them. It's not "Hey, you blessed poor! Yours is the kingdom of God", is it? If it were the latter, what is ὅτι . . . doing? Thanks for any help. Cheers, Mark
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Luke 6:20 vocative?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 1st, 2011, 7:49 pm

Mark Goodacre wrote:I'm just reading an article by Charles L. Quarles, "The Use of the Gospel of Thomas in the Research on the Historical Jesus of John Dominic Crossan", CBQ 69 (2007): 517-36 in which he writes, "Since the causal clause that follows the Beatitude in Luke uses second person forms, however, οἱ πτωχοί in Luke is very likely vocative" (521). I have never seen this before. Can anyone make any sense of it? The standard translations are "Blessed are the poor" or "Blessed are (you) poor", the latter taking the direct address from the subsequent clause, ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. Surely οἱ πτωχοί is nominative, and a blessing is being predicated of them. It's not "Hey, you blessed poor! Yours is the kingdom of God", is it? If it were the latter, what is ὅτι . . . doing? Thanks for any help. Cheers, Mark
I think your author is picking up on the second person plural idea. But how is the vocative used? As direct address, often coupled with imperatives or any context in which you have to grab someone's attention. However, here Jesus seems to be making an existential kind of statement, and personalizing it to his hearers. The force of it seems to me to be "Blessed are you, the poor, for..." This would make them nominatives in apposition to the understood subject.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Mark Goodacre
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Re: Luke 6:20 vocative?

Post by Mark Goodacre » June 2nd, 2011, 10:11 am

I agree -- that's the only sense I can make of it. I think it's a mistake to call this a "vocative" and it is not something I have ever seen before, but I was curious whether I had in fact missed something crucial.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Luke 6:20 vocative?

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 2nd, 2011, 10:41 am

It it were truly vocative, Luke 6:20bc would have to be punctuated with an extra comma as if Μακάριοι, οἱ πτωχοί, ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. But this leaves μακάριοι hanging out there with nothing to do. Rather, μακάριοι is straightforwardly the predicate nominative to the subject nominative οἱ πτωχοί.

So I don't think that it is a "vocative" at all. What Quarles is aiming at is unclear from the excerpt. Perhaps he means that οἱ πτωχοί is really second-person plural and that the implied form of εἰμί to be supplied ought to be ἐστε rather than εἰσι(ν).

Stephen
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

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