Acts 19:4 word order

clayton stirling bartholomew c.s.bartholomew at
Fri Jul 23 00:22:59 EDT 1999

>>How awkward is this word order? (This kind of a fuzzy question.) Is it
>>really awkward in terms of NT Greek or is it only awkward because we
>>wouldn't do it that way in English?

Carl Wrote
> No, I think it is awkward for EIS TON ERCONTA MET' AUTON to stand out in
> front of the hINA PISTEUSWSIN clause; I would have expected the phrase to
> follow upon either hINA or PISTEUSWSIN. And no, this isn't a matter of its
> being awkward in English; I think frequently the difference between English
> word-order and Greek word-order is confusing, but in this instance I really
> think that ordinary Greek word-order is being violated--and as I noted in
> my initial response, I really think that the phrase TOUT' ESTIN EIS TON
> IHSOUN has been added as an afterthought to clarify the initial EIS + acc.
> phrase. Now, it may be argued that it is the writer's intention to
> underscore the phrase ERCOMENON MET' AUTON as a phrase recognizable from
> the synoptic baptismal traditions (e.g. Mk 1:7 ERCETAI hO ISCUROTEROS MOU
> OPISW MOU and parallels)--and I think that is surely true enough, but in
> this case it seems to me that the emphasis has resulted in sufficiently
> awkward word-order that the writer feels a need to repeat an EIS + acc.
> phrase of clarification that does indeed follow upon the verb PISTEUSWSIN
> and more clearly depends upon it. I suppose one could convey the force of
> the word-order thus in English: "John baptized a baptism of repentance
> telling the people that it was in the one coming after him that they should
> believe, that is, in Jesus." In fact, I think that TWi LAWi is also awkward
> preceding LEGWN, but one can hardly understand TWi LAWi as dative with
> EBAPTISEN BAPTISMA. In fact the sentence reads like the kind of sentence I
> sometimes write, wherein the phrases fall out in text on the screen before
> the whole structure of what I want to say has become clear. I think this
> whole sentence is awkward after EIPEN DE PAULOS--intelligible enough, to be
> sure, but a far cry from the lucid and unambiguous Greek we like to think
> of Luke as ordinarily writing.
> Here too I have to say: this is my opinion only;


Henry Alford thinks it is really awkward. He suggests that Luke is
giving us a little raw Pauline syntax here. In other words he blames the
problem on Paul but he understands the passage the same way Barrett and
you do.

>I think, however, that the
> difference you allege between Fitzmyer and Barrett indicates that there's a
> problem. Let's look a little closer at that, however:
>>Fitzmyer (Acts:AB) makes it limit LEGWN.
>>Fitzmyer's English translation: "he used to tell the people about the
>>one who would come after him"
> Does Fitzmyer actually SAY in the commentary that EIS TON ERCOMENON MET'
> AUTON ought to be construed with LEGWN?

 Fitzmeyr's translation of the whole verse is:
Acts 19:4

So Paul explained, "John baptized with a baptism of repentance; he used
to tell the people about the one who would come after him, in whom they
were to believe, that is, in Jesus."

Its late and I am tired. But it seems that this English rendering
represents a different analysis of the syntax than what you have
suggested. I see "about . . . him" as the complement of "tell" and "in
whom . . ." as limiting "him." If my analysis of the English is correct
then Fitzmyer isn't reading the Greek syntax the same way as Barrett.
You know this is why I don't like working with English translations. The
English just adds a new layer of obfuscation to the problem. Fitzmyer's
translation is probably too dynamic for trying to read his analysis of
the underlying Greek syntax and he does not comment on the syntax

Thanks Carl for your analysis and comments;  profound as usual.


Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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