asyndeton in Matthew 28:19

schulc at schulc at
Fri Mar 8 11:16:46 EST 2002

Dear respected collegues,

The discussion last week of Matthew 28:19, reminded me of an outstanding 
question I have about that passage. The participles occur without a 
conjunction. What are the possibilities we can explore for such an asyndeton? I 
found the following passages in Smyth suggestive. Might we think of “teaching” 
as an intensification of “baptizing” (furthering “illumination”) or as 
essential to the very definition of baptizing?  Or do we have the risen Lord’s 
emphatic missionary zeal stylistically expressed? Are these the possibilites 
you would consider or would you select others?

"§2147. The abundance of its participles is one of the characteristic features 
of Greek. Their use gives brevity to the sentence (cp. 2050), enabling the 
writer to set forth in a word modifications and amplifications of the main 
thought for which we require cumbersome relative clauses. But an excessive use 
of participles, especially in close conjunction, marked a careless style.
f. Two or more participles may be coördinated without any connective. [p. 478] 
This is common in Homer when one participle forms a contrast to, or 
intensifies, another participle.

g. In prose such coördination without any connective is incomplete, one 
participle, e.g., often defining another
i. A finite verb may have two or more participles attached to it in different 

§2165. Two or more sentences (or words) independent in form and thought, but 
juxtaposed, i.e. coördinated without any connective, are asyndetic (from 
asundeton not bound together), and such absence of connectives is called 
a.	The absence of connectives in a language so rich in means of 
coördination as is Greek is more striking than in other languages. Grammatical 
asyndeton cannot always be separated from rhetorical asyndeton. Grammatical 
asyndeton is the absence of a conjunction where a connective might have been 
used without marked influence on the character of the thought; as especially in 
explanatory sentences (often after a preparatory word, usually a demonstrative) 
which take up the matter just introduced; also where, in place of a 
conjunction, a resumptive word, such as houtos, toioutos, tosoutos, entautha, 
houtô, etc., is employed. Rhetorical asyndeton is the absence of a conjunction 
where the following sentence contains a distinct advance in the thought and not 
a mere formal explanation appended to the foregoing sentence. Rhetorical 
asyndeton generally expresses emotion of some sort, and is the mark of 
liveliness, rapidity, passion, or impressiveness, of thought, each idea being 
set forth separately and distinctly. 

§2167. Asyndeton also appears when the unconnected sentence
b. Expresses a reason or explains the preceding.
a. Summarizes the main contents, or expresses the result, of the preceding."

I look forward to your responses.
Rev. Charles R. Schulz
Concordia Unversity, Ann Arbor, MI
schulc at

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