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May 9 / Steve Runge

Variant readings in Gal 1:8, Part 2

This is the second part of a post begun here. We now move on to consider the components that make up the sentence.

In terms of information structure, the presence or absence of an “optional” pronoun, as well as its placement, plays a huge role in disambiguating the author’s intentions about what is most important in the clause. I would refer you to my glossary or paper for information about the distinction between a frame of reference and emphasis/marked focus. On the one hand, there is the information structure (IS) of the main clause, then there is the IS of the subordinate clause, then there is the reading of the complex clause as a whole. Let’s take it a piece at a time, building up to the whole.

Regarding the main clause ἀνάθεμα ἔστω, the placement of ἀνάθεμα is undoubtedly places it in marked focus for emphasis sake, marking it as the most salient member of the clause. This means what was already the most important part of the clause was placed in a marked/non-normal position to attract extra prominence to it, i.e. emphasis. This will be indicated hereafter using bold.

Part one down, now for the fronted subordinate clause:

καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται [ὑμῖν] παρʼ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν

Note first that the καί is functioning adverbially, made clear by the presence of another coordinating conjunction ἁλλά. This adverbial element constrains the reader to search for some thematically-related element in the context, creating what I refer to in my grammar as “thematic addition.” Most often the thematic connection is back to a specific element in the preceding context; e.g. in “I ate breakfast. I also ate lunch,” the subject “I” and the verbal action “ate” remain constant, only one element changes. Had I omitted the “also,” the thematic relation between “breakfast” and “lunch” would have still been present, but without anything explicit to highlight it. Adding an adverb like “also” or “even” constrains the reader to look for such a connection.

In Greek, καί plays double duty for our English “also” and “even.” There is another kind of thematic addition that can be accomplished, captured by the English “even.” Instead of adding something to a preceding, related element, the thematic addition is to some “least likely possibility.” I believe this is the function of the adverbial καί here in Galatians 1:8. Paul has been generally referring to the problems associated with those preaching a different gospel. In 1:8, he takes the least likely proponents of a “different gospel,” and specifically tells them to reject it, even if these highly regarded entities were to do so. Remember, this is not a different “sense” of καί, it always has the same function of adding two similar elements. In this case, the similar elements are not clauses/phrases (i.e. coordinating conjunction), or a preceding element (i.e. adverbial, thematic addition “also”), but the least likely possibility (still adverbial, thematic addition, but one distinguished by a separate word in English).

I will take up the information structure of the subordinate clause in Part 3.

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