[B-Greek] What is the Subject?

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Sat Jun 7 06:11:51 EDT 2003


At 1:04 PM +0800 6/7/03, Oscar P Villa wrote:
>Dear fellow students,
>
>I was reading Romans 8:28, and could not determine the subject of the verb
>sunergei (3rd person singular), with much confidence. It seems that panta
>(neuter plural) can be accusative or nominative. The options seem to be:
>1) Take PANTA to be nominative, and, therefore, the subject of SUNERGEI -
>a case of a neuter plural subject taking a singular verb. (like KJV, NRSV
>translators did)
>2) Take PANTA to be accusative, and identify the implied subject. (like
>NIV, NASB translators did)
>
>Any thoughts?

Did you mean to send two identical copies of this message to the list?
The text:

I'll cite from my own off-list response to this same question from a two
years ago:

Text: OIDAMEN DE hOTI TOIS AGAPWSIN TON QEON PANTA SUNERGEI EIS AGAQON,
TOIS KATA PROQESIN KLHTOIS OUSIN.

Question: "The NET Bible translates this with a plural form "work together,"
as opposed to the singular "works together."
	"... does the singular verb here indicate what the subject is?
If PANTA is the subject, why did some scribes "clarify" this with hO QEOS?"

(a) This is simply a case of ordinary Greek grammar which is not
infrequently violated in Koine Greek: a neuter plural subject takes a
singular verb (e.g. TA PLOIA ESTIN EN THi QALASSHi: "The boats are on the
sea."). Since English requires concord of subject and verb, we translate
the verb as a plural, but that's simply a matter of the usage of original
and target language. In sum, you can draw NO inference from the "choice" of
a singular verb here: Paul writes good enough Greek not to violate the
principle of neuter plural subjects taking a singular verb.

(b) As for the content, my recollection of this verse is that it is NOT a
simple optimistic Pollyanna statement: it is preceded by the VERY emphatic
dative of interest phrase TOIS AGAPWSIN TON QEON, so that it is saying
specifically "All things work together for good FOR THOSE WHO LOVE GOD."
And certainly the context here underscores God's control over the world:
this is one of those passages that Calvinists draw most heavily (ignoring
when they do so Biblical assertions that speak otherwise) when they have
sought to demonstrate Biblical support for their doctrine of predestination
in the particular sense of the prosperity of the elect.

(c) The only really strong support for hO QEOS as subject is in p46, which
dates to about 200. Metzger's textual note (I mentioned this a week or two
ago?) says:
-------------
8.28 SUNERGEI {B} Although the reading SUNERGEI hO QEOS (p46, A B 81 cop.sa
(eth) Origen.gr2/5) is both ancient and noteworthy, a majority of the
Committee deemed it too narrowly supported to be admitted into the text,
particularly in view of the diversified support for the shorter reading
(Alef C D G K P Psi 33 614 1739 Byz. Lect itd, , 61 vg syr.p,h cop.bo arm
Clement Origen.gr3/5,lat Eusebius Lucifer Cyril-Jerusalem Chrysostom
Augustine _al_). Since SUNERGEI _may_ be taken to imply a personal subject,
hO QEOS seems to have been a natural explanatory addition made by an
Alexandrian editor.
------------
That seems to me a pretty reasonable judgment about the probability of
PANTA to be understood as subject of SUNERGEI and of why the alteration was
made by one copyist and carried into a very few others.

Similar constructions with PANTA as subject:

Mk 7:23 PANTA TAUTA TA PONHRA ESWQEN EKPOREUETAI KAI KOINOI TON
ANQRWPON. Here PANTA TAUTA TA PONHRA is clearly the subject of both
singular verbs EKPOREUETAI and KOINOI; the object is TON ANQRWPON, but you
could easily replace it with TOUS ANQRWPOUS.

1 Cor 6:12 PANTA MOI EXESTIN ALL' OU PANTA SUMFEREI; PANTA MOI EXESTIN ALL'
OUK EGW EXOUSIASQHSOMAI hUPO TINOS.
1 Cor 10:23 PANTA EXESTIN ALL' OU PANTA SUMFEREI; PANTA EXESTIN ALL' OU
PANTA OIKODOMEI.
1 Cor 14:40 PANTA DE EUXCHMONWS KAI KATA TAXIN GINESQW
1 Cor 16:14 PANTA hUMWN EN AGAPHi GINESQW.
-- 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/



More information about the B-Greek mailing list