[B-Greek] 2 Tim 1:3 APO

Yancy Smith Y.W.Smith at tcu.edu
Mon Mar 13 00:55:06 EST 2006

	You wrote:

> I would beg your consideration that this may be too limiting a  
> conclusion.
> Consider for example #5 from BDAG under APO: (a)
> ..to indicate cause, means, or outcome. Generally to show the  
> reason for
> something, "because of, as a result of, for.
> For example Luke 19:3...Zacchaeus was not able to be seeing Jesus.  
> His not
> being able was APO OXLOU.

Now, I am with you so far. I accept that APO OCLOU means, in English,  
"because of the crowd." I am also prepared to accept that there might  
be all sorts of factors that result in such a cause. The phrase does  
not "contain" all of these things, however, but merely alludes to  
them in hopes that the reader will select those that are optimally  
relevant. Our brains seem to be wired to work like that, and when  
they find the first meaning that meets the principle of relevance,  
they generally stop working on the problem and go on to the next  
unless unsolved problems continue to vex. I am prepared to accept as  
well that some of the factors that create the cause alluded to in the  
grammar may be more or less implicated and that one could see a whole  
host of more or less faintly indicated factors to which the phrase  
directs the reader's minds. But I think surely you are over  
interpreting by separating "the meaning" of APO and the genitive  
cased OCLOU and packing each one with all the meaning you possible can.

> Not only "from" in the genitive case, but also
> "crowd" in the genitive case. This is the writer thinking and writing
> Greekly that he is not only thinking and writing about the OXLWi  
> (which he
> can't with APO), but about the OXLOU. That is, what characterizes the
> crowd... and the genitive case is the vehicle that for a Greek speaker
> contains and carries those characteristics and is recommending them  
> to his
> hearers/readers. Now if we aren't attuned to that it is not the  
> fault of the
> speaker/writer; it is our responsibility. Zacchaeus' not being able  
> to be
> seeing Jesus was a hindering of his ability to be seeing because of  
> what was
> "of" the crowd. The writer is intimating to us to consider not just "a
> crowd" but to be pointed to the writer's perspective of seeing what  
> is "of"
> the crowd. The numbers...the density...the heighth...perhaps even  
> suggesting
> a crowd's indifference to someone(short)that really didn't matter  
> to them.
> TOU OXLOU... there could even be more to this but it is not made  
> any more
> explicit here than what one might know about being in or behind a  
> crowd; we
> should at least consider it up to our capacity of understanding  
> though. The
> genitive case begs this when one understands the baggage it carries  
> and the
> unpacking of the contents of the same, I would say.
Is this the way natural language works? Isn't it more natural to take  
APO OCLOU as a semantic unit which indicates cause and be done with  
it, as far as grammatical analysis is concerned. The kind of thing  
you are describing here looks like inference based on context  
according to the principle of relevance, not what kind of freight the  
genitive does or does not carry.

When you quote:

> BDAG goes on for APO under #5 at (b)
> ..to indicate: means; with the help of, with
> And under ( c )...to indicate: motive of, reason for, from, with

I am curious to know what the criterion is for selecting this meaning  
for the phrase APO PROGONWN? What makes a causal, means, or  
instrumental meaning more probable than, say, a temporal one? I can  
see the example given in BDAG in Rev 18:15, hOI PLOUTHSANTES AP'  
AUTHS (those who became wealthy with her help/by her/from [dealing  
with] her). But the definition you are suggestion for APO give the  
result, in 2 Tim 1:3, "whom I serve with the help of my ancestors"?  
Theoretically, this type of meaning might be germane, but, does it  
accord with Greek usage? Why reject the suggestion in BDAG under  
PROGONWN? Is the evidence cited inadequate? BDAG, under PROGONWN  
refer to incriptional evidence in support of their definition of the  
phrase as "from my ancestors" = "as my ancestors did." [It is  
unfortunate that  the Packard Humanities Greek Epigraphy Project  
http://epigraphy.packhum.org/inscriptions/ does not yet contain OGI  
485, 529, IMagnMai 163, 164]. You, however, refer to BDAG on APO.

Ultimately, the dictionary cannot define words. Usage in context  
does. Outside of this text I can see examples of using APO PROGONWN  
describing an adverbial relation of source, i.e. "from parents/ 
grandparents/ancestors" (living or dead), a temporal relationship,  
i.e. "since the time of parents/grandparents/ancestors" (living or  
dead), which, in 2 Tim 1:3, would imply, among other things, "without  
wavering" or "as they did" (as given in BDAG). I would suggest that  
this last usage is idiomatic and that its appearance in funerary  
inscriptions and a letter like 2 Tim looking forward to death is to  
be expected. On the other hand, I have found no evidence to support  
your interpretation of the phrase. This does not make it impossible,  
only improbable. For this usage to be more than a distant  
possibility, more evidence to support it than a wistful reference to  
BDAG is necessary.

The writer pictures Paul as  affirming "here a continuity with the  
true faith of his Jewish ancestors, i.e., that he has not left ...  
[his heritage] to worship and serve another God, but, in recongnizing  
Jesus as the promised Messiah, has continued to serve the God of  
Abraham (Acts 23:1; 24:14; 26:6)." (See G. Knight, NIGNT on the  
Pastoral Epistles, after citing BDAG on PROGONWN).

Yancy Smith
Y.W.Smith at tcu.edu
Brite Divinity School
Texas Christian University

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