[B-Greek] Dative participial clauses

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Jul 3 07:42:43 EDT 2007


On Jul 3, 2007, at 3:44 AM, Iver Larsen wrote:

> Thank you, Carl, for your comments. I was waiting for comments from  
> others, but let me try to round
> off from my perspective. I have kept the examples and some of your  
> comments in this post below.

I do think this is a useful discussion. I too would like to hear some  
more comments, especially by those who can speak knowledgeably from a  
linguistic-analytical perspective and are not so committed to the  
characterizations and descriptions employed by traditional Greek  
grammars. I suspect that the time frame -- the Independence Day  
hiatus in the U.S. -- will account for the want of comments from  
others at this point; I only hope that the topic won't seem too stale  
to think about when they get back to their computers. It just may  
well be that we can further illuminate the matter of these  
"participial clauses."

> I did not use the term "dative absolute" because I don't think it  
> is helpful, nor do I like the term
> "genitive absolute".

I noticed that you didn't; the reason I used it for the clauses you  
listed was that you seemed to be arguing that the dative participles  
and nominals  of those clauses were independent syntactically from  
the main clause; my observation that they more likely ARE linked  
syntactically with main-clause verbs taking dative complements was  
intended to counter that claim of syntactic detachment.

On the other hand I would readily grant that these dative participial  
clauses do function in the same manner as "genitive absolute" clauses  
in that they precede the main clause and that they are fundamentally  
circumstantial -- adverbial. I'm not so sure that they are  
necessarily temporal only (I rather doubt it, and I doubt that the  
temporal function of the locative dative has anything to do with  
employment of that case for the nominal and participle); as I noted  
in my last post, I really think that this matter deserves a fuller  
investigation beyond the Biblical corpus into Hellenistic prose --  
and I think that such a study ought also to take into account older  
Classical Greek usage as well as Classical Latin prose usage, which  
may very well have influenced those NT writers who had some schooling.

At the same time I am inclined to agree with you that the designation  
of the genitive participle clauses of this kind as "genitive  
absolute" is not really very helpful; while it is true that the  
genitive case of nominal and participle are not explicable as  
relating grammatically with elements in the main clause, it is  
unquestionably true that these participial clauses are circumstantial  
-- adverbial -- just as are the dative participial clauses. Perhaps  
it would be better to call them "circumstantial participial clauses"?

> I use the term participial clause rather than participial phrase,  
> because we are dealing with a
> clause in terms of normal linguistic descriptions. It has a nuclear  
> verb, expressed through a
> participle, plus an implicit or explicit subject and sometimes an  
> object and other elements.
>
> These participial clauses are all dependent on and precede the main  
> clause, because they in some way
> or other describe the setting for the main clause.
>
> I have never come across a participial clause in the accusative as  
> a setting, but the clauses are
> common in both nominative, genitive and dative, with dative being  
> the least common.

The so-called "accusative absolute" of earlier Greek involves  
impersonal verbs, quite commonly with an infinitive as their  
"subject" (e.g. ἐξὸν ἡμῖν ταῦτα ποιῆσαι  
(EXON hHMIN TAUTA POIHSAI "it being possible for us to do that"). It  
isn't found in the GNT except in the word τυχόν (TUCON) in 1 Cor  
16:6 πρὸς ὑμᾶς δὲ τυχὸν παραμενῶ ἢ  
καὶ παραχειμάσω (PROS hUMAS DE TUCON PARAMENW H KAI  
PARACEIMASW ... ), "If things work out, I'll stay with you or even  
spend the winter ... " Here the TUCON is n. sg. acc. ptc. of TUGCANW  
in the sense, "it chancing" (but the form itself can't really be  
Englished); it is a circumstantial participial usage; in 1 Cor 16:6  
it's perhaps as well to consider TUCON an adverb meaning "perhaps" or  
"possibly." For a fuller account, see Smyth §§2059, 2076-8.

Upon consulting Smyth I find one participial clause in the dative  
cataloged among the circumstantial participial usages; this is pretty  
much like the ones we've reviewed in the GNT:

"§2061 Time. -- The time denoted by the participle is only relative  
to that of the governing verb, and is to be inferred from the  
context. Each participial form in itself expresses only stage of  
action. ἀκούσασι τοῖς στρατηγοῖς  
ταῦτα ἔδοξε τὸ στράτευμα συναγαγεῖν  
(AKOUSASI TOIS STRATHGOIS TAUTA EDOXE TO STRATEUMA SUNAGAGEIN) "on  
hearing this it seemed best to the generals to collect the troops."  
Xenophon, Anabasis 4, 4.19."

To which I'd note that I don't really know why this should be  
classified as especially temporal, other than the fact that the  
hearing precedes the decision of the commanders; one might as easily  
see this as causal: "Hearing that made the commanders decide to  
gather the troops." I think we might just stick with the catch-all  
adjective, "circumstantial."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

> When the participle (and subject) is in the nominative, the subject  
> of the participle is the same as
> the subject in the main clause. In the two other cases, the subject  
> in the participial clause is
> different from the subject of the main clause. The subject would be  
> genitive if the participle is
> genitive and dative if the participle is dative.
>
> In the case of a dative participial clause, there is a strong  
> connection to a dative element
> (object) in the main clause, and this may well be the reason that  
> the dative is used rather than the
> genitive. On the other hand, these dative participial clauses  
> apparently always indicate the time
> setting for the main clause, and time is often indicated by a  
> dative. We have seen one example of
> such a time clause where there is no dative object in the main  
> clause to govern the dative (Mat
> 14:6). I am inclined to agree with Carl that the dative participial  
> clauses anticipate the dative
> nominal (whether explicit or implicit) in the main clause, but what  
> I find of greater interest is
> trying to describe the function of the fronted participial clauses  
> relative to the main clause. That
> the subordinate clause occurs before the main clause indicates that  
> it sets the scene. The
> nominative part. clause sets the scene in terms of what the subject  
> of the main clause has already
> done (or is doing). The genitive part. clause sets the scene in  
> general terms of important and
> relevant background information. It is a kind of circumstantial  
> genitive. The dative part. clause
> sets the scene in terms of time - what the dative object has just  
> been doing or is doing (or what
> has happened to it). The relative time between the participial verb  
> and the main verb is indicated
> by the tense of the participle, which would usually be aorist, but  
> at times present.

I agree generally with this characterization of the circumstantial  
participial clauses that precede the main clause. I'm not so sure  
that the dative clauses are any more commonly temporal than are the  
genitive participial clauses ("genitive absolutes"); I certainly  
think that the GNT is too restricted a textual corpus from which to  
generalize. I am inclined to doubt that use of the locative dative to  
express time in noun phrases has anything to do with the grammatical  
case of these participial clauses; I am more inclined to believe that  
the dative nominal relates syntactically to a verb in the main clause  
requiring a dative complement.

>
> These are my present thoughts. I would certainly welcome a thorough  
> analysis going beyond the GNT,
> but this is beyond my time resources at the moment.

Thank you, Iver. As I noted at the outset, I really think this has  
been a helpful, useful discussion.

It might just be worth mentioning here that Martin Culy argued that  
only nominative-case participles can actually be termed  
circumstantial -- genitive absolutes excepted, (Martin M. Culy, “The  
Clue is in the Case: Distinguishing Adjectival and Adverbial  
Participles,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 30.4 (2003). I  
didn't find Culy's case convincing; another critical examination of  
his evidence is Grant Edwards, "The Validity of Adverbial Participles  
in Oblique Cases," paper delivered March 2005, accessible at (http:// 
www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=2768). I don't really think that  
discussion has much bearing on the topic here under discussion  
(unless one takes seriously Culy's view that dative participles must  
be aadjectival.


>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu>
>
>> Mark 16:9  Ἀναστὰς δὲ πρωῒ πρώτῃ   
>> σαββάτου
>> ANASTAS DE PRWI PRWTHi SABBATOU
>> [Jesus] having arisen early on the first [day] of the week
>> ἐφάνη πρῶτον Μαρίᾳ τῇ Μαγδαληνῇ
>> EFANH PRWTON MARIAi THi MAGDALHNHi
>> he first of all revealed himself to Mary Magdalene
>
>> Mark 16:12  Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα δυσὶν ἐξ   
>> αὐτῶν περιπατοῦσιν ἐφανερώθη
>> META DE TAUTA DUSIN EX AUTWN PERIPATOUSIN EFANERWQH
>> After these things he showed himself to two of them who were   
>> walking along
>> ἐν ἑτέρᾳ μορφῇ πορευομένοις εἰς   
>> ἀγρόν·
>> EN hETERA MORFHi POREUOMENOIS EIS AGRON
>> in a different form [and] who were walking towards the countryside.
> "into the countryside"?
>
>> Mark 16:14  Ὕστερον [δὲ] ἀνακειμένοις   
>> αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἕνδεκα ἐφανερώθη
>> hUSTERON DE ANAKEIMENOIS AUTOIS TOIS hENDEKA EFANERWQH
>> Later he showed himself to the eleven themselves as they were   
>> reclining at table.
>
>> Mat  8:23  Καὶ ἐμβάντι αὐτῷ εἰς τὸ   
>> πλοῖον
>> KAI EMBANTI AUTWi EIS TO PLOION
>> And after he had entered the boat,
>> ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ
>> HKOLOUQHSAN AUTWi hOI MAQHTAI AUTOU
>> his disciples followed/joined him
>
> This too I would understand as another instance of the dative
> participial phrase/clause preceding a verb that construes with a
> dative complement. I admit that the second AUTWi is superfluous, but
> it is the sort of superfluous pronoun that is not so uncommon in the
> LXX. My inclination here would be to explain the construction as a
> dative participial phrase/clause employed where otherwise a geniive
> absolute would have been used -- the dative chosen PRECISELY BECAUSE
> the speaker/writer is aware that a verb requiring a dative complement
> will follow. The second AUTWi is superflous, but I don't think it
> requires us to understand EMBANTI AUTWi EIS TO PLOION as a "dative
> absolute."
>
>> Mat 9:27  Καὶ παράγοντι ἐκεῖθεν τῷ   
>> Ἰησοῦ
>> KAI PARAGONTI EKEIQEN TWi IHSOU
>> And as Jesus was on his way away from there,
>> ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ δύο τυφλοὶ   
>> κράζοντες καὶ λέγοντες
>> HKOLOUQHSAN AUTWi DUO TUFLOI KRAZONTES KAI LEGONTES
>> two blind men who were shouting and who were saying... followed him.
>
>> Mat 9:28 ἐλθόντι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν
>> ELQONTI DE EIS THN OIKIAN
>> But after he had entered the house
>> προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ τυφλοί
>> PROSHLQON AUTWi hOI TUFLOI
>> the blind [people] came up to him
>>
>> Mat 14:6  Γενεσίοις δὲ γενομένοις τοῦ   
>> Ἡρῴδου
>> GENESIOIS DE GENOMENOIS TOU hHRWDOU
>> When Herod's birthday celebrations had come around,
>> ὠρχήσατο ἡ θυγάτηρ τῆς   
>> Ἡρῳδιάδος ... καὶ ἤρεσεν τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ
>> WRCHSATO hH QUGATHR THS hHRWiDIADOS..KAI HRESEN TWi hERWDHi
>> the daughter of Herodias danced... and it pleased Herod
>
> This is the single really problematic text, and yes, HRESEN must
> construe with TWi hHRWDHi. I do indeed think that this is based on
> Mark 6:21, but I would sooner undrestand this as a dative of time
> when with a circumstantial participle: "at Herod's birthday
> celebration, when it came round, Herodias' daughter danced ..."
> I would guess that the evangelist did have in mind the same sort of
> construction as in 8:23, 9:27 and 9:28; it may be that he was aware
> at the outset that he intended to use the verb HRESEN and so chose to
> introduce the sentence with a dative noun and a participle in the
> dative. Unquestionably the phrase/clause here functions as does a
> gentiive absolute in that it cannot be made to construe with the main
> clause syntactically. I think that happens sometimes as it does when
> we are composing e-mail: anacoluthon as a consequence of changing
> grammatical horses before formulating in mind  the sequential parts
> of a sentence.
>
>> Lk 8:27 ἐξελθόντι δὲ αὐτῷ ἐπὶ τὴν  
>> γῆν
>> EXELQONTI DE AUTWi EPI THN GHN
>> As he came out (from the boat) onto the land
>> ὑπήντησεν [αὐτῷ] ἀνήρ τις
>> hUPHNTHSEN [AUTWi] ANHR TIS
>> a certain man came up to him
>
>> Luke 17:7 Τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν δοῦλον ἔχων   
>> ἀροτριῶντα ἢ ποιμαίνοντα,
>> TIS DE EX hUMWN DOULON ECWN AROTRIWNTA H POIMAINONTA
>> Who of you who has a slave who has been plowing and tending sheep,
>> ὃς εἰσελθόντι ἐκ τοῦ ἀγροῦ  
>> ἐρεῖ  αὐτῷ
>> hOS EISELQONTI EK TOU AGROU EREI AUTWi
>> who as he [the slave] has come in from the field, will say to him?
>
>> Act 7:26 τῇ τε ἐπιούσῃ ἡμέρᾳ ὤφθη   
>> αὐτοῖς μαχομένοις
>> THi TE EPIOUSHi hHMERAi WFQH AUTOIS MACOMENOIS
>> On the next day he showed himself to them as they were fighting.
>>
>> This is different, but I find it interesting that the temporal   
>> setting is in the dative.
>
> But the use of the locative dative to indicate a temporal setting is
> hardly strange...
>
>> Act 28:10 καὶ ἀναγομένοις ἐπέθεντο  
>> τὰ  πρὸς τὰς χρείας
>> KAI ANAGOMENOIS EPEQENTO TA PROS TAS CREIAS
>> And as (we) were setting out to sea they presented (us) with the   
>> things for our needs
>>
>> Here there is no hHMIN in the text, although it must be  
>> understood  as an implied object for the
>> verb. There is a hHMAS in the preceding context which is   
>> pragmatically carried forward.
>
> Here I must agree that hHMIN is implicit, and it's also the case here
> that EPEQENTO "expects" a dative complement.
>
> I think it would be worth investigating the frequency of dative
> nominal + participial phrases/clauses with verbs construed with
> dative complements in Greek literature or at least in Hellenistic
> literature (beyond the GNT!). As I argued when I first discussed the
> problem of Luke 5:1, I also think this is a common construction in
> Latin prose. The instance I was trying to think of a few days ago was
> the very opening of Cicero's De Oratore (1.1): "Cogitanti mihi saepe
> numero et memoria vetera repetenti perbeati fuisse, Quinte frater,
> illi videri solent, qui ... " (Often as I ponder and recollect olden
> days, those men tend to seem to me profoundly blessed, who ... ").
> Here note that the MIHI with with COGITANTI and REPETENTI construe
> ultimately depends upon the verbal phrase VIDERI SOLENT: "they tend
> to seem to me when I ponder ... "
>
> Carl W. Conrad






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