Barry Newman's Blog

July 11, 2010

Christ Centred Communion – Further Thoughts (part XXIV)

Filed under: Christ Centred Communion — barrynewman @ 10:53 pm

Understanding “Poieite” as “You are doing” and the word, “this” – 1 Corinthians 11: 24, 25 and Luke 22: 19 (continued)

Of the 38 instances assessed to be in the indicative mood, 19 were in the form of questions. Of the total of 42 instances, 21 involved “tauta” rather than “touto”.

To begin with, considering only those instances external to the New Testament, if the statement is in the imperative mood “poieite” or “poieis” immediately precedes “touto” or “tauta” in 3 out of the 4 instances.  If the statement or question is in the indicative mood “touto” or “tauta” immediately precedes “poieite” or “poieis” in 29 out of the 31 instances. 

The exceptions may be instructive. In the two instances where “poieite” or “poieis” immediately precedes “touto” or “tauta” but the indicative mood is involved, the emphasis appears to be on the “doing”.  The translation of one, which involves “poieis touto”, reads, “Is it not iniquitous and outrageous to stigmatise today measures which at the time you were unable to amend?”[1] The translation of the other, involving “poieis tauta” reads, “Father, why do this?”[2] The latter is part of a play where an ongoing dialogue revolves around the action taken.  In the single instance where “touto” or “tauta” immediately precedes “poieite” or “poieis” (actually it is “tauta” preceding “poieis”) but the clause is in the imperative mood, the emphasis appears to be on what is signified by the “this”.  The translation reads, “That is what you have to attend to.”[3] The requirement concerns a set of instructions that should be given to soldiers coping with fear, lined up ready for battle.

Mention has already been made of the single instance in the New Testament – Mark 11: 3 where “poieite” immediately precedes “touto”.  It should be noted that there are no instances in the New Testament (unless it be the three exempted from the analysis) where the imperative mood appears to be involved. Furthermore 6 of the 7 of these instances have “touto” or “tauta” (actually it is “tauta” in all cases) immediately preceding “poieite” or “poieis”.

Overall, the high proportion of instances where “touto” or “tauta” immediately precedes “poieite” or “poieis” is noteworthy.  Indeed there are at least another 24 instances in the New Testament where either “tauta” or “touto” is alongside of  a grammatical form related to “poieite” and “poieis” though not a form involving the imperative mood, and in each case, either “tauta” or “touto”  precedes that grammatical form. This general phenomenon is perhaps not an unexpected one.  When any “this” is related to any “do” the emphasis is more likely than not to be placed upon the “this” rather than the “do”.  An examination of the 36 instances where “touto” or “tauta” precedes “poieite” or “poieis” confirms this understanding.

The significance of word order is always open to dispute.  Yet, as it stands, the analysis is more suggestive of the words, “touto poieite” in Luke 22: 19 and 1 Corinthians 11: 24, 25 being understood as a statement rather than a command. 

However, if it is maintained that the passages are concerned with a command involving “remembrance of me” the emphasis would appear none the less to be on what the “this” signifies rather than on the command, as suggested earlier.  Yet this would appear to be a little odd.  The “this” is a reference to something that is done at every Passover meal.  There is nothing unusual or detailed about it.  One might think that the command involving “remembrance of me” would be of greater import than the “this’ and take priority.  If however, no command is involved, perhaps understandably the “this” would take pride of place with the important notion of “remembrance of me” being attached to both what the “this” signifies and the “doing”.


[1] Demosthenes, De Corona, Sect. 273, l. 7 in LOEB Classical Library, Demosthenes II, De Corona De Falsa Legatione XVIII and XIX, (trans. Vince, C.A. and J.H.), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1971, pp. 198, 199.

[2] Menander, Samia, l. 452 in LOEB Classical Library, Menander III, (ed. and trans. Arnott, W.G.), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2000, p. 110-111.

 [3] Xenophon, Cyropaedia, Book 6, ch. 3, sect 28, l. 1 in LOEB Classical Library, Xenophon VI, Cyropaedia II, (trans. Miller, W.), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1914, pp. 186, 187.

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