PISTEUW + EPI + dative

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Jul 20 08:19:50 EDT 1998

At 11:45 AM -0700 7/19/98, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> Well, in the first place, I think the word-order IS ordinary enough and
>> points to the usual interpretation of this passage. I like to get students
>> to retain the word-order so far as possible in translation; in this
>> instance, I'd make it: "Then the proconsul, upon seeing what had happened,
>> believed, astounded at the teaching of the Lord."
>> As for the linkage of verb, participle, and the EPI phrase, I rather think
>> that PISTEUW here is used in an absolute sense and that the linkage of EPI
>> THi DIDACHi to EKPLHSSOMENOS is not really unusual.
>Carl and David Moore,
>I wasn't suggesting that there was anything odd about the word order, nor was
>I suggesting that the traditional translation was wrong. What I was asking was
>can the verse be read a different way, specifically the last half of it. I was
>particularly interested in knowing if word order is the controlling issue in
>deciding how to analyze the syntactical function of EKPLHSSOMENOS and EPI THi
>DIDACHi . . . .
>It seems very plausible to consider EKPLHSSOMENOS as the beginning of a
>subordinate clause and then connect the clause adverbially to EPISTEUSEN or
>adjectivally to ANQUPATOS. This is how the traditional translations read. I
>was just wondering out loud whether this is the only way this could be read.
>And if it is the only way, what are the key syntactical factors that point to
>this reading. If I read Carl correctly, the key syntactical factor is word
>order, right?

I guess I misunderstood your question, Clay. I read it as "WHY do
interpreters consider taking EPI THi DIDACHi KTL with EKPLHSSOMENOS and not
with EPISTEUSEN. I responded (a) that I do think the word-order favors
reading it that way, but I didn't state openly or clearly what is, in fact,
my opinion, that reading EPI THi DIDACHi KTL with EPISTEUSEN is hard to
swallow with EKPLHSSOMENOS as a circumstantial participle understood
adverbially sandwiched between those elements that are to be interpreted
together; and (b) there's good precedent in Mark and Luke for understanding
EKPLHSSOMENOS with a phrase such as EPI THi DIDACHi KTL, while there is
none, that I can find, for understanding EPISTEUSEN with EPI THi DIDACHi.
What I find in BAGD for PISTEUW and EPI + dative is only a personal name in
the dative, and my inclination would be to understand a phrase like PISTEUW
EPI TWi KURIWi as equivalent to "I'm making a commitment on the basis of
the Lord" rather in the manner of Pascal's wager. So I simply can't make
good sense of PISTEUW EPI THi DIDACHi TOU KURIOU whereas Ido find

>Also somewhat of an aside,
>David Moore, even though he retracted his original post on this subject
>inadvertently raised a question worth consideration. How common is it for a
>participle to be use as a  modifier of another participle. I don't see any
>reason why this could not take place. However, I don't think that agreement in
>aspect would be an issue here, would it? A participle does not need to agree
>in aspect with a verb when it is functioning adverbially, does it?

I wouldn't think that a participle as such would modify another participle
unless that participle is substantival; and yet a participle may contribute
adverbially to a predicate notion that is itself expressed in a participle,
PRATTEIN, although the participle DUNAMENOS technically agrees with the
subject EKEINOS. But somehow that seems strange to me in our sentence;
reading it as you suggest would yield, "... and then, when the proconsul
saw what had happened, he believed, all the time astounded, on the basis of
the teaching of the Lord." Or would it be, "believed because he was
astounded"? To me this makes no sense, any more than "came to belief, while
he was in a state of amazement, on the basis of the teaching of the Lord."
At any rate, I don't see how the sense can be "came to believe IN the
teaching of the Lord."

The aspect of the participle certainly CAN be different from that of the
main verb. I don't think that's the problem, although I think one might
more commonly see an aorist participle coordinated with a main verb in the
present or imperfect if the aspect is different.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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