colossians 2:8

Maurice A. O'Sullivan mauros at
Thu Jan 28 07:38:54 EST 1999

At 21:41 27/01/99, you wrote:
>I was translating my way through colossians and was a little befuddled by
chapter 2 verse 8.
>After struggling a little with the verse and consulting some grammars I
think that the participle HO SULAGWGWN modifies TIS and that the verse
should read something like this:
>   Watch out lest there will be someone who will carry you away captive...
>Now I have heard the view that since the participle has the article >Paul
is refering to someone in particular who is leading or could >lead the
Colossians astray.  The way I see it at the moment, the >article makes the
participle atributive and identifes what certain >person Paul is speaking
about.  The Colossians are to watch out >that no one comes along with
philosophy and empty deceit based >on this world's thinking and thus become
the one who carries them >away captive.  What do you all think?  I would
appreciate any input >on any grammtical points I might have missed.

BDF includes Col. 2:8 as an example of what is dealt with in s.412.

It begins:
"The participle as attributive, with or without the article, equivalent to
the relative clause"

and adds, in (4)
The articular participle is striking in some instances where Attic usage
would have preferred to express the attributive relationship by means of a
relative clause

So, I read this as meaning that your example should be translated literally
"take care lest someone (who will be the one who ....) "

IOW, the definiteness is about what the indefinite someone will do, not
about who he is.

BTW, the more interesting grammatical aspect, for me, of  v.8a is that
whereas fear or anxiety with MH generally uses the subjunctive, here it is
the future indicative ( as in Mk. 14:2 and Heb. 3:12 

Hope this helps


Maurice A. O'Sullivan  [ Bray, Ireland ]
mauros at

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