John 20:21 -- ἀποστέλλω vs πέμπω

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John 20:21 -- ἀποστέλλω vs πέμπω

Postby Bob Nyberg » August 21st, 2012, 10:31 am

Hi,

Is there a significant reason why John uses two different words for send in John 20:21?

John 20:21b says " ... καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς."

Some Greek scholars say that they are used interchangeably in this verse.

At least one person believes that there is a ‘significant distinction’ between the two words. He says that the first is used of the Father sending the Son and concentrates on the mission to be accomplished and the authority imparted to whom was sent and the second is used of Jesus sending the disciples which focuses more on the relation of the sent to the sender.

It seems like the use of καθὼς would indicate that the two are interchangeable here. I was wondering what you all think.

Bob
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Re: John 20:21 -- ἀποστέλλω vs πέμπω

Postby cwconrad » August 21st, 2012, 11:15 am

Bob Nyberg wrote:Hi,

Is there a significant reason why John uses two different words for send in John 20:21?

John 20:21b says " ... καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς."

Some Greek scholars say that they are used interchangeably in this verse.

At least one person believes that there is a ‘significant distinction’ between the two words. He says that the first is used of the Father sending the Son and concentrates on the mission to be accomplished and the authority imparted to whom was sent and the second is used of Jesus sending the disciples which focuses more on the relation of the sent to the sender.

It seems like the use of καθὼς would indicate that the two are interchangeable here. I was wondering what you all think.

Bob


In view of the ipsissima verba of the text,(i.e. καθὼς ... με, κἀγὼ ... ὑμᾶς)I don't see how there can be any doubt that the author intended these words to be understood as synonymous here. But apart from that indicator, there are other instances of synonymy within John's gospel (notable esp. in chapter 21, assuming this belongs to John's gospel -- ἀγαπῶ/φιλῶ, βόσκω/ποιμαίνω, ἅρνια/πρόβατα). But also, Louw & Nida list the two verbs together:

15.66 πέμπωa; ἀποστέλλωa; ἀπολύωb: to cause someone to depart for a particular purpose — ‘to send.’
πέμπωa: ἔδοξε … ἐκλεξαμένους ἄνδρας ἐξ αὐτῶν πέμψαι εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν σὺν τῷ Παύλῳ καὶ Βαρναβᾷ ‘decided … to choose some men from the group and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas’ Ac 15:22; ἐλπίζω δὲ ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Τιμόθεον ταχέως πέμψαι ὑμῖν ‘I trust in the Lord Jesus that I will be able to send Timothy to you soon’ Php 2:19.
ἀποστέλλωa: ἀποστέλλει δύο τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ‘he sends two of his disciples’ Mk 11:1; ἀπέστειλέν με … εὐαγγελίζεσθαι ‘he sent me … to tell the good news’ 1Cor 1:17.
ἀπολύωb: οἱ μὲν οὖν ἀπολυθέντες κατῆλθον εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν ‘then those who were sent arrived in Antioch’ Ac 15:30.
Carl W. Conrad
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Re: John 20:21 -- ἀποστέλλω vs πέμπω

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » August 21st, 2012, 1:22 pm

cwconrad wrote:In view of the ipsissima verba of the text,(i.e. καθὼς ... με, κἀγὼ ... ὑμᾶς)I don't see how there can be any doubt that the author intended these words to be understood as synonymous here. But apart from that indicator, there are other instances of synonymy within John's gospel (notable esp. in chapter 21, assuming this belongs to John's gospel -- ἀγαπῶ/φιλῶ, βόσκω/ποιμαίνω, ἅρνια/πρόβατα). But also, Louw & Nida list the two verbs together:


L&N is consistently cautious in giving any nuances or differences. It's part of their methodology, some kind of semantic minimalism. It's safe: you won't say anything which the text doesn't say, but it may lead to saying less.

It may be dangerous to mix semantics and logic, but I believe it's very useful to differentiate identical and analogical likeness. For example, we are should be one like Father and Son are one (e.g. John 17:11). Not identically, but analogically. Understanding καθὼς analogically may actually be linguistically/semantically very sound. Therefore it doesn't require synonymousness.
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Re: John 20:21 -- ἀποστέλλω vs πέμπω

Postby Stephen Carlson » August 21st, 2012, 1:37 pm

I am a priori skeptical about claims of absolute synonymy. Usually there is some difference, though it not need be at the semantic or propositional level. That being the case, the semantics of many words overlap, and some authors may, by the use of two near synonyms, intend a meaning that is common to both words. I believe that author of John is one of these authors, and that as a result it is generally fruitless to discern subtle distinctions in his lexical choices where there is variation.

I am also a priori skeptical of claims that ordinary Greek words are actually technical terms that convey fairly subtle theological differences.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: John 20:21 -- ἀποστέλλω vs πέμπω

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » August 21st, 2012, 5:50 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
cwconrad wrote:In view of the ipsissima verba of the text,(i.e. καθὼς ... με, κἀγὼ ... ὑμᾶς)I don't see how there can be any doubt that the author intended these words to be understood as synonymous here. But apart from that indicator, there are other instances of synonymy within John's gospel (notable esp. in chapter 21, assuming this belongs to John's gospel -- ἀγαπῶ/φιλῶ, βόσκω/ποιμαίνω, ἅρνια/πρόβατα). But also, Louw & Nida list the two verbs together:


L&N is consistently cautious in giving any nuances or differences. It's part of their methodology, some kind of semantic minimalism. It's safe: you won't say anything which the text doesn't say, but it may lead to saying less.

It may be dangerous to mix semantics and logic, but I believe it's very useful to differentiate identical and analogical likeness. For example, we are should be one like Father and Son are one (e.g. John 17:11). Not identically, but analogically. Understanding καθὼς analogically may actually be linguistically/semantically very sound. Therefore it doesn't require synonymousness.


Eeli,

That is an interesting take on L&N. Been using L&N since the first edition (1988) but haven't ever thought of them as representatives of semantic minimalism. Like S. Carlson "I am a priori skeptical about claims of absolute synonymy. " On the other hand, Leon Morris published a study on lexical variation in John ages ago, when I was still in college. He specially deals with this text. I don't think whole library full of NT theological dictionaries, which tend toward semantic maximalism, will ever settle the issues of semantic nuances in John's writings. John was a very subtle guy, my favorite NT author.

Thanks for your reply, redressing to hear a new voice (relatively speaking) on b-greek.
C. Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: John 20:21 -- ἀποστέλλω vs πέμπω

Postby David Lim » August 22nd, 2012, 12:44 am

Bob Nyberg wrote:Is there a significant reason why John uses two different words for send in John 20:21?

John 20:21b says " ... καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς."

Some Greek scholars say that they are used interchangeably in this verse.


As others have pointed out, we can't really say for certain that the author didn't intend any difference between the two words in this specific sentence, but I thought that it might be useful to note the following parallels in his writing:
[John 13:20] αμην αμην λεγω υμιν ο λαμβανων εαν τινα πεμψω εμε λαμβανει ο δε εμε λαμβανων λαμβανει τον πεμψαντα με
[John 17:18] καθως εμε απεστειλας εις τον κοσμον καγω απεστειλα αυτους εις τον κοσμον
δαυιδ λιμ
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Re: John 20:21 -- ἀποστέλλω vs πέμπω

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » August 22nd, 2012, 4:14 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:That is an interesting take on L&N. Been using L&N since the first edition (1988) but haven't ever thought of them as representatives of semantic minimalism.


I want to clarify a bit. I didn't use "minimalism" in any restricted technical sense. I just have noticed that they consistently avoid seeing distinctions and nuances where many more or less respected exegetes see them. It's not necessarily a conflict or contradiction. L&N's purpose is limited and it's been made concise and clear, available for non-experts. It's very healthy and commonsensical, but in details and nuances can't be used as the sole authority a priori without evidence. Actually I love its "minimalism" but don't take it as final authority.

Also in this context I didn't mean that L&N is wrong and John made a distinction. I just said that Carl's arguments weren't decisive in my opinion.
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