Friday, September 3, 2010

Idioms 2: John 2:4

Ἰωάννην 2·4 [καὶ] λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; οὔπω ἥκει ἡ ὥρα μου. 
And Jesus is saying to her, “Woman, what to me and to you?  My hour has not yet come.”  John 2:4
τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί: “What to me and to you?”
This may be my favorite idiom in the Bible.  You know it is a common expression when Jesus says it to his mother!  Most people don’t know that it’s there because most translations render it as something else other that "what to me and to you".  Check your favorite translation and see what it says.  Also see Mark 5:7.
The phrase τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι (ti emoi kai soi, gunai) is Semitic in origin. The equivalent Hebrew expression in the Old Testament had two basic meanings: (1) When one person was unjustly bothering another, the injured party could say “What to me and to you?” meaning, “What have I done to you that you should do this to me?” (Judg 11:12, 2 Chr 35:21, 1 Kgs 17:18). (2) When someone was asked to get involved in a matter he felt was no business of his, he could say to the one asking him, “What to me and to you?” meaning, “That is your business, how am I involved?” (2 Kgs 3:13, Hos 14:8). Option (1) implies hostility, while option (2) implies merely disengagement. Mere disengagement is almost certainly to be understood here as better fitting the context (although some of the Greek Fathers took the remark as a rebuke to Mary, such a rebuke is unlikely). (From the NET Bible Translation Notes)
ὥρα μου: my hour.
Let’s not short-change this verse (How about a modern day idiom). “My hour” is also an idiom that is referring to time.  In this case, Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection.


  1. I'm thinking this has been shortened to: what? It can be used in a broader scope as well.

  2. It's great to see the original Greek. Thanks.

    But I don't buy it. Addressing Mary as "woman" is a reminder of her lowly station in life. And today's equivalent, "What's it to you!" is definitely an aggressive rebuke.