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1 Corinthians 11:23

A famous passage in Paul, 1 Cor 11:23 reads:

Ἐγὼ γὰρ παρέλαβον ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου, ὃ καὶ παρέδωκα ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς …

EGO GAR PARELABON APO TOU KURIOU, hO KAI PAREDWKA hUMIN, hOTI hO
KURIOS IHSOUS …

It is usually rendered as “For I received from the Lord, which I also
handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus …”

Curious about the force of the καί KAI, I looked up the entry in BDAG
p. 496, s.v. καί, 2f, and saw this explanation: “used w[ith] a
relative, it oft[en] gives greater independence to the foll[owing]
relative clause,” citing 1 Cor 11:23 among other passages.

What does BDAG mean by “greater independence”? Unfortunately BDAG does
not cite any secondary literature on this point.

For what it’s worth, Denniston on Particles, pp.294-295, treats KAI
with the relative pronoun as follows:

“In general καί emphasize the fact that the relative clause contains
an addition to the information contained in the main clause: whereas
δή stresses the importance of the antecedent, and γε usually marks the
relative clause as having a limiting force. . . . The emphasis which
καί gives to a relative clause can often be best brought out in
English by the insertion of a new (pronominal) antecedent.”

Applying Denniston’s proposed translations of some Attic examples to 1
Cor 11:23 may mean that the following translation gives the feel of
the construction: “For I received from the Lord (and that is what I
handed on to you) that the Lord Jesus …”

Turning back to BDAG’s notion of “greater independence,” would that
mean that the relative clause with KAI almost becomes a parenthetical?

Stephen Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson
Graduate Program in Religion
Duke University

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