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σὺ λέγεις


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"The Greek Old Testament and Apocrypha seem not to contain the phrase or its equivalent ; and the early versions, from the nature of the case, furnish little or no aid in determining its meaning." -

This is what J. Henry Thayer wrote on p. 42 of his article, "Σὺ εἰ̑πας, Σὺ λέγεις, in the Answers of Jesus" in the Journal of Biblical Literature Vol. 13, No. 1 (1894), pp. 40-49 


Thayer also writes this on the very next page:


"But more probable here, as it seems to me, is the interrogative punctuation of Westcott and Hort's margin 5: 'Dost Thou say this?'"


I'd like to suggest GNT look at the corpus of the ancients, such as Aristophanes and Plato.


In his play "The Birds," the playwright has the Athenian Πεισθέταιρος or "Trusty" or "Persistent" asking the first Herald the question.

τί σὺ λέγεις;


And in three different dialogues the student of Socrates has interlocutors confirming what this teacher proclaims, with these clauses:

Ναί, οὕτως ἔχει ὡς σὺ λέγεις.

Οὕτω μέν, ὦ Σώκρατες, ὡς σὺ λέγεις,

Κινδυνεύει γοῦν οὕτω βέλτιστον εἶναι ὡς σὺ λέγεις.

Invariably the point Σὺ λέγεις points back to the previous point made by a previous person in a dialogue.

Jesus, already not prone to making long statements when on trial, especially when he's been abused, would characteristically be efficient with his utterances.

It seems the brevity here, and how translators and interpreters of the NT have wanted to get it exactly right, has caused the problems of getting what Jesus means. Jesus puts Pilate in the place of the Herald and himself in the place of Trusty, if he's questioning. And he puts Pilate in the place of Plato's Socrates and himself in the place of those Socrates is guiding in socratic teacher, since Jesus is affirming what the powerful Roman is asking.

Any other thoughts on this?



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I don't have insight into how this text relates to the other Greek texts you bring up, but I was struck today by how Jesus's


σὺ λέγεις


parallels Pilate's


σὺ εἶ ... ;

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Matt. 26:25 ποκριθες δ οδας παραδιδος ατν επεν· μτι γ εμι, αββ; λγει ατ· σ επας.


NRSV: Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”


And Matthew 26:63-64 have a very similar “σ ε”...“σ επας”.

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