Rahab's sign

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Nov 10 06:59:34 EST 1999


At 1:13 PM -0500 11/5/99, Bart Ehrman wrote:
>   In discussing Rahab and the spies, 1 Clem 12:7 says KAI PROSEQENTO
>AUTHi DOUNAI SHMEION.  The implied subject of of PROSEQENTO is the
>"spies."  The phrase is a semiticism.  A typical rendering in English
>translations is something like "They proceeded to give her a sign."
>Parallels to this use of PROSEQENTO are Luke 19:11 and Acts 12:3.
>
>   Harnack, though, argued that it should be rendered something like "They
>directed her to give a sign" (well, Harnack wasn't writing in English; his
>suggestion is "praeterea mandaverunt ei ut signum daret").  Something like
>this seems to be followed still by the most recent German renditions.
>Lightfoot argues thought that it is impossible, on the grounds that it
>involves understanding PROSEQENTO as something like "enjoin" or "impose."
>
>   Does anyone have an opinion about it?

This is still sitting in my B-Greek "open questions" box and I see that
nobody has thus far expressed an opinion on it. What I offer is nothing
more than that: an opinion: (a) I can't see any justification in terms of
what the lexica offer us for PROSTIQHMI (or PROSTIQEMAI) for understanding
the verb to mean "command" or "instruct"; (b) PROSTIQHMI/PROSTIQEMAI +
infinitive is a common enough Hebraism with the sense, "continue to do" or
"go on doing." I may be wrong about this, but it really looks to me like
Harnack has given PROSEQENTO a meaning that he thinks is appropriate to the
context rather than one that has parallels elsewhere.

Lk 19:11 AKOUONTWN DE AUTWN TAUTA PROSQEIS EIPEN PARABOLHN ...
Acts 12:3 IDWN DE hOTI ARESTON ESTIN TOIS IOUDAIOIS, PROSEQETO SULLABEIN
KAI PETRON ...
Both of these are consistent with the usage "proceed," "continue": "he went
on and told a parable ..." and "he proceeded to take Peter along also ..."
and are so listed by Louw & Nida (below).

Here's Louw & Nida on usage within the GNT: 52.7 won't apply; 57.78 might
appear to support a sense PROSTIQESQAI = Lat. mandare, but it would be more
a matter of "give permission," which doesn't seem quite the same to me.
89.89 looks closest, but it hardly supports the sense that Harnack, from
what you say, is presenting.

52.7 PROSTIQHMI PROS TOUS PATERAS AUTOU : (a Semitic idiom, literally 'to
place with his fathers') to carry out a burial procedure - 'to bury.'
EKOIMHQH KAI PROSETEQH PROS TOUS PATERAS AUTOU 'he died and was buried' Ac
13:36.

57.78 PROSTIQHMI, EPITIQEMAI: to place something at the disposal of someone
else - 'to give, to provide, to grant.'
59.72 PROSTIQHMI, EPITIQEMI; PROSANATIQEMAI: to add something to an
existing quantity - 'to add.'
68.13 PROSTIQEMAI: to continue, with focus upon the next element - 'to
continue, to proceed to.'AKOUONTWN DE AUTWN TAUTA PROSQEIS EIPEN PARABOLHN
... 'while they were listening to this, he continued and told them a
parable' Lk 19:11.
89.89 PROSTIQEMAI: to mark an immediately following event - 'to proceed
to.' IDWN DE hOTI ARESTON ESTIN TOIS IOUDAIOIS, PROSEQETO SULLABEIN KAI
PETRON ... 'seeing that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter'
Ac 12:3.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/
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