Depending on whether God or a human is the forgiving agent in the Synoptic Gospels (and beyond), the verb valence of ἀφίημι, “forgive,” differs in several ways. The present article argues that the differences are reflections in linguistic conventions of the cognition that only God can remove the substance of sin, while both God and humans can remit the moral debt of sin. Construction grammar, a linguistic theory which assumes that syntax and semantics are inseparable, is used in the analysis. Theological implications are discussed.
G. Lakoff and M. JohnsonMetaphors We Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press1980); G. Lakoff and M. Johnson Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought (New York: Basic Books 1999).
K.H. Jobes and M. SilvaInvitation to the Septuagint (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic2000) 108-109; cf. M. Silva Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics (rev. and expanded ed.; Grand Rapids Mich.: Zondervan 1994) 53-100.