What Have I With You?

I get a kick out of idioms! Idiomatic expressions spice up speech and literature. They can add levity to mundane subjects or technical works.

Here are a few idioms to make you hunger for more:

Food for thought
A piece of cake
Pie in the sky
Egg on my face
Bread and butter
Out to lunch


Yet idiomatic expressions can be a challenge to translate from one language to another—especially if it’s a language no longer in use, such as Koine (New Testament) Greek. And such a challenge presents itself in John 2:4.

Technically Speaking

Chapter two of John’s Gospel opens with the wedding in Cana (John 2:1–2). Upon learning the hosts had run out of wine for their guests, Mary informed Jesus (2:3). In (transliterated) Greek He responded (2:4), Ti emoi kai soi? This translates most literally as, What to me and to you?

This idiomatic expression in John 2:4 recently featured in a segment of Daily Dose of Greek. See the corresponding YouTube video here:

Note the very different English translations of this idiom. Few are literal (formally equivalent), most are functionally equivalent (dynamic).

Though Dr. Plummer—following others—asserts this originates as a Semitic (Hebrew) idiom,1 this idiom is found in Classical (pre-Koine) Greek.2 In H. W. Smyth’s Greek Grammar, the Classicist adds the verb ‘to be’ (estin) and renders this expression functionally as, What have I to do with thee? Taking Smyth’s added (implied) Greek verb, we might render this more literally as, What is [it] to me and you?

Following are Smyth’s complete thoughts on this matter (§ 1479), with transliteration added in brackets:

Here belong the phrases (1) τί (ἐστιν) ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί [ti (estin) emoi kai soi]; what have I to do with thee?; cp. τί τῷ νόμῳ καὶ τῇ βασάνῳ [ti tō̗ nomō̗ kai tē̗ basanō̗]; what have the law and torture in common? D. 29.36. (2) τί ταῦτ᾽ ἐμοί [ti taut’ emoi]; what have I to do with this? D. 54.17. (3) τί ἐμοὶ πλέον [ti emoi pleon]; what gain have I? X. C. 5.5.34.

It seems to me that the comparison (“cp.”) in (1) is instructive. Note the parallelism. It begins with the same particle interrogative pronoun ti and includes a kai (“and”) between the dative “law” and “torture”. Moreover, (2) is quite helpful: ti taut’ emoi is most literally What this to me? If we add the presumably implied ‘to be’ we would get What is this to me? Assuming my rationale is correct, we might think that the idiomatic expression is something like What (is) me and you? or What (is) me to you? This, then, would be understood as conveying something akin to What do I share with you? or What do I have in common with you?

Interestingly, in a few Biblical passages unclean spirits used this same idiom in response to Jesus. The NET Bible, for example, renders Mark 5:7 as follows: Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God–do not torment me!” The NET is certainly using dynamic equivalence, but I might challenge the rendering here. Elsewhere, I’ve translated this: What am I to You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God: Don’t torment me!”

The NET Bible notes for Mark 5:7 explain: Hostility between Jesus and the demons is certainly to be understood in this context, hence the translation: “Leave me alone….” Yet I’m not so sure the unclean spirits were openly hostile to Jesus here. They knew who He is and they understood the power He had over them; so, I’d think they would be a bit more cautious in their interactions with Him.


The title of this article should be understood as a possible dynamic rendering of this idiomatic phrase (‘What Have I With You?’), as well as a question as to whether this is a valid translation of this idiom (Is it ‘What have I with you’?)

So how should we translate this idiom in John 2:4?

Beats me!


1 Follow the note in the online NET Bible translation here (footnote 8).

2 See Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), pp 150–151; Rodney J. Decker, Mark 1–8: A Handbook on the Greek Text, BHGNT (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2014): “This is not a Hebraism, though Hebrew does have a similar idiom (. . . see also BDAG, 275, s.v. έγώ. col. 2 . . . )” [p 27].


Ensalada Verboso

word salad

Sometimes words have a lot to say. And you should say them. A lot. People need to know. And when they know, they know. Ya know what I’m sayin’?

Words have meaning. In context. Sometimes words change meaning. Sometimes people change the meaning of words. In midstream, even. To know what they’re sayin’ you have to have the right dictionary. Or you just know they mean the opposite of what they’re sayin’.

But sometimes there are no words.


Do You Yet Believe?

Are the shepherds pulling the wool over the eyes of the sheep?

Is this a test of the extent to which one might remain faithful to the prevailing orthodoxy—a test of religious zealotry?


It seems neutrality can be rather easily obtained, if one generates enough green. Money, that is.

In the words of Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes 5:10–12, ISV):

10 Whoever loves money will never have enough money.
Whoever loves luxury will not be content with abundance.
This also is pointless.
11 When possessions increase,
so does the number of consumers;
therefore what good are they to their owners,
except to look at them?
12 Sweet is the sleep of a working man,
whether he eats a little or a lot,
but the excess wealth of the rich
will not allow him to rest.

Indeed, there is a season for everything.



Ted Turner’s Math Problem

“Climate Change” as Religion

Climocentrism: The New Geocentrism

Vengeance Is Not for Us, Rejoicing Is.

As the times grow ever more, uh, ‘challenging’, take time to reflect. Like medicine for the soul, reading and reflecting upon the Psalms can have a calming effect. It can be cathartic. I’m sure it was for David as he was writing at least some of his.

The Psalm for today is 58, one of David’s.1 Bear in mind “Sons of Men” here refers to kings, rulers, etc.

58:1 So you truly speak righteousness?

You judge properly, ‘Sons of Men’?

2 For even in your heart you practice lawlessness on the earth;

with your hands you weave unrighteousness.

3 Estranged are sinners from the womb,

astray from birth, they utter falsehoods,

4 their venom as that of a snake,

like a deaf cobra also plugging up its ears,

5 which hears not the sound of the charmer

or enticements invoked with skill.

6 God shall crush their teeth in their mouth;

The teeth of the ‘lions’, the Lord shall shatter.

7 They shall dissipate as water passing through.

He shall stretch His bow until they grow faint.

8 Like wax melted, they shall be taken away:

Fire rains upon them, and they cannot see the sun.

9 Before you fathom your thorns, the thorny bush as living,

as in wrath, it shall swallow you up.

10 The righteous shall rejoice upon seeing vengeance on the ungodly.

He shall wash his hands in the bloodshed of the sinful.

11 Then a man shall say, “Truly there is fruit for the righteous!

Truly there is a God judging them on the earth!”


1 Translated from the Septuagint/LXX 57. The main differences from the Masoretic Text (MT) are in verses 7b–9.

I Forgot to Remember

Two years ago I published a very short blog post focusing on a new (for me) word. I intended to commit it to memory.  Well, I forgot to remember to commit it to memory.

I reprise it here in its entirety (further below) in recognition of the Three Rs of Pedagogy:

    1. Repetition
    2. Repetition
    3. Repetition

Should these ever fail, there are two more Rs:

    1. Rinse
    2. Repeat

Without further ado, I revivify the unremembered (until now) post:

I Keep Forgetting

Word of the day:


The inability to remember a particular word or name

Now, if only I could recall this word next time I can’t remember the word I’m looking for…

I think I must try harder to remember to be less “lethological”…

Gonna Be a Great Weekend!

I just received two items I ordered. The first is a multi-author book on John 6. I’ve been looking for additional material pertaining to a portion of this chapter to ponder over for a projected blog post. The second item is a new (for me, but previously released except one cut) disc of jazz music from the late sixties.

The book features contributors from diverse (including multi-national) perspectives: Paul N. Anderson, Johannes Beutler (SJ—Germany), Peder Borgen (Norway), Dr. R. Alan Culpepper, Dr. Robert Kysar, Maarten J. J. Menken (Netherlands), Francis Moloney (SDB—Australia),  Gail R. O’ Day, John Painter (Australia), Ludger Schenke (Germany), and Dr. Marianne Meye Thompson.









The music is led by the relatively unsung Charles Tolliver (trumpet, composer of all tunes here). Rounding out his quartet—augmented by Gary Bartz (alto sax) on four of the seven tracks—are Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (acoustic bass), and Joe Chambers (drums). All great musicians. At the time, Hancock and Carter were two-fifths of the Miles Davis quintet—rounded out by Wayne Shorter (tenor & soprano sax) and Tony Williams (drums)—the greatest band ever assembled in any music idiom. That’s not just opinion, that’s fact! Not debatable. Also note that both Bartz and Chambers would end up playing with Miles later.

I received one item from NW USA (Oregon), the other from NE USA (Connecticut). And I’m in between the two, though much further South (Texas). What a great country!

This Labor Day weekend let’s consider the wonderful diversity of this great country and not let the media, politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and sports icons divide us.

Freedom and diversity of thought and expression. Freedom to think independently. But let’s labor to give grace to others with their own independent thoughts and different opinions—except regarding the best band ever, of course.


Upon reading the Preface to the book above, I think Culpepper’s remarks are quite appropriate:

One suspects that [the contributing authors’] civility and collegiality even in the midst of sharply conflicting points of view–which could be a model for scholars in many other disciplines–is probably borne of their perennial brooding over the depths of the Gospel of John.

Keener Faith

This is a fantastic account of faith in action! I don’t wish to dilute its strength, so I’ll let Craig Keener tell it in his own words in less than two minutes:

Oh, if I could have that kind of faith and that kind of outcome!

Part of the reason I’m posting this—and I’m a bit uncomfortable stating the following—is that four different individuals have assumed that I (Craig, the writer here at CrossWise) am Craig Keener. In a way, I suppose I should take that as a compliment, for he is a scholar whom I greatly respect. (One particular insight of Keener’s was integral to help support my case in this article on Pilate’s inscription above Jesus’s cross.) But in another way I have a feeling that I’ve somehow misrepresented myself, giving readers here the wrong impression. I’m not sure how, for that was never my intention. Quite simply, I wish to retain a certain amount of anonymity. That’s all. With all this in mind, I’ve made a very small change to my CONTACT tab, adding the phrase “a self-studying layman”. To be completely clear, I have no formal seminary education or theological training. And I state nowhere on this site anything to support anything of the sort. I’m just a (kinda) regular guy on a journey seeking Christian truth—wherever that leads.

I do find this mistaken identity a bit curious though. For, besides Keener, there are other Christian scholars sharing the same first name, such as Craig A. Evans (check out his layman-friendly Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels), Craig R. Koester (see, e.g., Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel: Meaning, Mystery, Community), and Craig L. Blomberg (see, e.g., A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis).

In any case, I’ll direct you to Keener’s blog. I appreciate not just his work, but his brand of off-beat humor, as exemplified by this cartoon for a new illustrative Bible glossary.

Looking Forward to the Past

I saw this sign this morning:

future is past

I’d be looking forward to 2020…

…but my vision’s rather poor. My hindsight isn’t even that good.

I Keep Forgetting

Word of the day:


The inability to remember a particular word or name

Now, if only I could recall this word next time I can’t remember the word I’m looking for…

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