[B-Greek] Acts 26:2-3
cwconrad2 at mac.com
Fri Feb 1 20:32:28 EST 2008
On Feb 1, 2008, at 7:56 PM, Hugh Donohoe Jr. wrote:
> In my read through Acts, I have stumbled across
> another interesting instance of grammar. First let me
> quote the verses.
> v.2 PERI PANTWN hWN EGKALOUMAI hUPO IOUDAIWN, BASILEU
> AGRIPPA, hHGHMAI EMAUTON MAKARION EPI SOU MELLWN
> SHMERON APOLOGEISTHAI v.3 MALISTA GNWSTHN ONTA SE
> PANTWN TWN KATA IOUDAIOUS EQWN TE KAI ZHTHMATWN, DIO
> DEOMAI MAKROQUMWS AKOUSAI MOU.
> When I was translating verse 3 I was a little
> surprised by the accusative participle (ONTA) with SE.
> A.T. Robertson notes in his Word Pictures that
> commentators takes this accusative differently. Some
> take it as a accusative absolute after old Greek
> idiom. Some take it as anacoluthon or grammatical
> inconsistency. These can be intentional or
> unintentional (See Smyth, Greek Grammar p. 671-2).
> Blass-Debrunner-Funk also considers this an instance
> of a solecism (Section 137 (3)). BDF considers this an
> instance of a dangling participle. Most who consider
> this an error link it to the genitive SOU in the
> previous verse and say the accusative participle "is
> too soon".
> While I was a little surprised to see the accusative,
> it struck me as odd, not as wrong. This is not one of
> those obvious instances of bad grammar like in the
> Apocalypse (for me anyway). So would someone please
> unpack what all the fuss is about.
> Just off the top of my head. Could the SE be the
> direct object of hHGHMAI. Could Paul consider himself
> "blessed to give a defense before you" and consider
> "you an expert". A sort of double accusative. Probably
> not, but I'm just throwing it out there.
Interesting question. I do think it's bad grammar, but not like the
bad grammar of Revelation (I've heard some make the startling
suggestion that the author of Revelation deliberately violates the
rules of Greek grammar, but I'm more inclined to think that he doesn't
really think like a native Greek-speaker). The word is, I think,
anacoluthon. My impression is that the GNWSTHN ONTA SE was intended as
the object of a participle of judgment, perhaps even something like
EIDWS or GINWSKWN or hHGOUMENOS ("deeming you to be knowledgeable
concerning ... "). Certainly the participle (rather than infinitive)
in indirect discourse is standard when the governing verb is one of
perception or judgment. It might well be that Paul (or this narrator
representing Paul's speech) is, as you suggest, thinking as if the
hHGHMAI were still the operant verb. I think it's a grammatical slip-
up -- one that clearly does not render the text unintelligible at all.
It's the sort of slip-up I have myself made (and I would guess that
others have also) many a time, especially when responding to e-mail
queries at a time when mind and fingers are not quite in synch and
what ends up on the page is not exactly what had originally been
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
More information about the B-Greek