Dative Absolute

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Aug 27 21:12:20 EDT 2001


Much as I'm tempted to delete the earlier correspondence, I think I'll
simply suggest that those not interested in this delete the whole thing or
read no further, while those interested in these stylistic problems in
Matthew and Mark may need to be able to refresh themselves on the preceding
correspondence. My new comments are interspersed with Richard's latest
comments below.

At 1:12 PM -0400 8/27/01, Richard Ghilardi wrote:
>Dear Carl and B-Greekers,
>
>[Ghilardi]
>> >MQ. 14:6 says,
>> >
>> >GENESIOIS DE GENOMENOIS TOU hHRWiDOU WRCHSATO hH QUGATHR THS
>> hHRWiDIADOS
>> >EN TWi MESWi KAI HRESEN TWi hHRWiDHi
>> >
>> >Now I know there is no such thing as a "dative absolute", but this
>> sure
>> >looks like one! I notice that there is considerable textual
>> variation
>> >here. But surely the reading above is the lectio difficilior (or
>> does it
>> >rise to the level of difficilima?) and best explains the origin of
>> the
>> >others:
>> >
>> >1) GENESIOIS DE AGOMENOIS -- f1
>> >2) GENESIWN DE AGOMENWN -- W 0106 0136 f13 33 Maj
>> >3) GENESIWN DE GENOMENWN -- C K N theta 565 892 1241 1424 al
>> >
>> >GENESIOIS DE GENOMENOIS is supported by aleph B D L Z lect2211
>
>> >
>> >I notice too that the following editions read the same as NA27:
>> >Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott/Hort, Merk,
>> Bover,
>> >NA25 while Griesbach, Wordsworth, Vogels agree with 2 above and von
>> Soden
>> >with 3 above.
>> >
>> >The parallel in MK 6:21 retains the dative TOIS GENESIOIS but this
>> has
>> >now become a dative of time referencing the "day" mentioned in the
>> >previous genitive absolute: GENOMENHS hHMERAS EUKAIROU.
>> >
>> >What am I missing here?
>
>[Conrad]
>
>> I've been thinking about
>> this and
>> I don't think it's a dative absolute. Wallace considers it a Dative
>> of
>> time, and I agree with this; I think that GENOMENOIS here is a
>> circumstantial participle and that the construction here is one that
>> is not
>> uncommon in literary narrative: At the birthday of Herod when it
>> came round
>> the daughter of Herodias danced ..."
>> GENESIOIS DE GENOMENOIS is the lectio difficilior and it is not by
>> any
>> means ungrammatical.
>
>[Ghilardi]
>
>I agree with you entirely, Carl. But this still leaves a question in my
>mind.
>
>Given MQ's fondness for the gen. abs. (he uses it in one of every 20
>vss.; only Acts, 3 Jn, 1 Pt and 2 Pt use it as or more frequently), and
>
>Given that << he attempts to use the genitive the gen. absol. but fails
>to use it properly... often using it in place of the ptc. in the dative:
>1:20; 5:1; 8:1,5,28; 9:10,18; 18:24; 21:23; 27:17. >> (Turner Style, p.
>39), and

These are very interesting passages, generally involving, as you say, a
genitive absolute where Jesus or some other is the subject, followed by a
dative pronoun referring to the same person as the subject of the genitive
absoluteconstruing with the main verb. One of your texts will suffice; here
it is Joseph to whom AUTOU in the genitive absolute as well as AUTWi in the
main clause refer:

Mt 1:20 TAUTA DE AUTOU ENQUMHQENTOS IDOU AGGELOS KURIOU KAT' ONAR EFANH
AUTWi LEGWN ...

Classical Attic certainly would have phrased this more or less like this:
TAUTA DE AUTWi ENQUMHQENTI IDOU AGGELOS KURIOUS KAT' ONAR EFANH LEGWN ...

That is to say: classical Attic or "schoolboy" Greek would not use a
genitive absolute when the subject of the genitive absolute is identical
with a syntactic element in the main clause. And the examples cited above
(presumably drawn from Turner) all are like this.

>Given that << ... there is no doubt that some of Matthew's changes make
>for smoother Greek...>> (Turner Style, p. 39),
>
>Could it be that MQ found MK 6:21 so awkward that he changed the gen.
>abs. to a circumstantial participle in the dative despite his fondness
>for the gen. abs. and despite his tendency to do just the opposite of
>what we find in 14:6, namely, to use a gen. abs. where he should have
>used a participle in the dative?

One might think so, BUT in fact, even this is not really very "good" Greek,
although it's intelligible enough. That participle GENOMENOIS construing
with GENESIOIS is really awkward; it is obvious that it would be a lot
clearer and more conformable to "standard" Greek if it were GENESIWN ...
GENOMENWN. What Mt has here written is no less anomalous (even if it is
also equally intelligible) than Mt 1:20.

>Compare MK 6:21 with MQ 14:6:
>
>MK 6:21,22) KAI GENOMENHS hHMERAS EUKAIROU hOTE hHRWiDHS TOIS GENESIOIS
>AUTOU DEIPNON EPOIHSEN TOIS MEGISTASIN AUTOU K.T.L. 22) KAI EISELQOUSHS
>THS QUGATROS AUTOU hHRWiDIADOS KAI ORCHSAMENHS HRESEN TWi hHRWiDHi K.T.L.
>
>MQ 14:6) GENESIOIS DE GENOMENOIS TOU hHRWiDOU WRCHSATO hH QUGATHR THS
>hHRWiDIADOS EN TWi MESWi KAI HRESEN TWi hHRWiDHi

Quite frankly I don't think in this instance Mt's version is any
improvement upon Mk's (if one assumes Marcan priority, as I'd still be
inclined to do). There is one real problem with Mark's formulation that is,
in its own way, like the Matthaean genitive-absolute usage: we have the
genitive absolute EISELQOUSHS THS QUGATROS AUTOU hHERWiDIADOS KAI
ORCHSAMENHS and then immediately we have a predicate (HRESEN TWi hHRWiDHi)
for which the only intelligible subject must be the same Herodias who is
the subject of the genitive absolute. It's intelligible, but not very neat.
Quite frankly I don't think either version is very eloquent although both
are perfectly intelligible.

>I realize at this point we could get into a lot source criticism and form
>criticism or whatever. But it is not my intention (or interest) to do
>this. I simply wish to know whether anyone on this list besides myself
>finds MK 6:21 at least SLIGHTLY awkward, though grammatical enough. Is it
>awkward enough for MQ to alter the gen. abs. to a participle in the
>dative? I notice that MQ also eliminated the double gen. abs. in MK 6:22.
>Does anyone think that MQ's text is smoother because of these changes? I
>await your responses.

I don't believe it's an improvement overall: it's a matter of one step
forward and one step backward (I realize that's not quite Lenin's formula).

Incidentally, my favorite Marcan syntactical marvel is Mk 2:3 KAI ERCONTAI
FERONTES PROS AUTON PARALUTIKON AIROMENN hUPO TESSARWN. While it's
certainly possible that four servants are carrying the paralytic on behalf
of the unnamed persons who are bringing the paralytic to Jesus. But I've
always suspected that those who are coming and bringing the paralytic are
also the ones who are carrying his litter. I should add that I don't really
think Mark's style is that often as questionable as it's generally thought.
-- 

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



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