The Discourse Function Of ἀπεκρίθη καὶ εἶπεν (“He Answered And Said”) In The Gospel Of John -- By: Mavis M. Leung

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 171:683 (Jul 2014)
Article: The Discourse Function Of ἀπεκρίθη καὶ εἶπεν (“He Answered And Said”) In The Gospel Of John
Author: Mavis M. Leung


The Discourse Function Of ἀπεκρίθη καὶ εἶπεν (“He Answered And Said”) In The Gospel Of John

Mavis M. Leung

Mavis M. Leung is Associate Professor of New Testament, Evangel Seminary, Hong Kong.

A large portion of John’s story about Jesus consists of direct or indirect speeches. Besides the common verb of speaking, λέγω (“say” or “speak”), which occurs 480 times in the Fourth Gospel, John often employs ἀποκρίνομαι (“answer” or “reply”) to introduce an utterance in a conversation. Notably, these two verbs (usually joined by καί) are present in the same quotative frame (i.e., an expression used to introduce reported speech) more than thirty times in this Gospel. In these instances, a number of modern English Bible versions include only one verb and leave out the other in their translations. For example, the phrase ἀπεκρίθηΙησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ in 4:13 is translated “Jesus answered” (NIV), “Jesus replied” (NLT), and “Jesus said to her” (NRSV). The implication of these translations is that the verbal combination ἀπεκρίθη καὶ εἶπεν is mere pleonasm and has no pragmatic purpose within John’s literary scheme.

Yet Abbott mentioned that the Johannine phrase ἀπεκρίθη καὶ εἶπεν is mainly used to introduce “elementary doctrine or explanation of misunderstanding.”1 More recently, Levinsohn says that the verb ἀποκρίνομαι by itself is John’s “default way of introducing a response to a previous speech or non-verbal stimulus.”2 In contrast,

the phrase ἀπεκρίθη καὶ εἶπεν has the rhetorical effect of “highlight[ing] the response,” which often represents “a significant counter” or “a significant new initiative” to a speech or an action.3 Runge analyzes the discourse function of ἀπεκρίθη καὶ εἶπεν under the heading of “redundant quotative frame,” which contains “extra verbs of speaking to ‘frame’ or introduce a speech.”4 He notes that discussions in traditional grammars have focused more on the possible Semitic ori...

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