[B-Greek] EKSESTIN + acc + infinitive?

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Wed Jun 3 04:21:34 EDT 2009

On Jun 2, 2009, at 9:47 PM, Richard Ghilardi wrote:

> Hello Folks,
> Recently someone asked about a Machen exercise that went something  
> like
> this:
> << It is not lawful for them to take the clothes. >>
> Dr. Buth responded that the "them" might be put into the dative or the
> accusative as the subject of the infinitive. But Dr. Conrad only
> mentioned the dative. Whether his silence about putting "them" into  
> the
> acc as subject of the inf was meant to exclude that possibility, I  
> don't
> know and I don't care to discuss. Dr. Conrad can clear that up if he
> wants to.

Upon checking and finding this, I see that Randall and I responded to  
Mike Noel's question from far corners of the earth within the same  
minute (Randall: May 20, 2009 3:24:34 PM EDT, myself: May 20, 2009  
3:24:54 PM EDT); his response and mine were independent, not  
competitive or in dialogue. I wrote:

"Here the major consideration is the ordinary construction of the   
impersonal verb EXESTIN, which means, more or less literally, "power/  
possibility/authority to do X (this being expresssed by an infinitive)
belongs to Y (this being expressed by a dative of the person who  
holds  the power/possibility/authority). So "for them" is going to  
have to be  in a dative form expressing the sense of "for them." That  
would be  AUTOIS."

This is the ordinary construction of EXESTIN, in both older Classical  
Attic and in NT Koine. Since it is the ordinary construction, I  
thought that's what I would write in a composition exercise.

> After examining all the instances of EKSESTIN in the NT I could not  
> find
> one example of EKSESTIN + subj acc + inf.

Randall in his message cited Luke 20:22 ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς  
Καίσαρι φόρον δοῦναι ἢ οὔ; [EXESTIN hHMAS  
KAISARI FORON DOUNAI H OU]. I'd have to call that an unimpeachable NT  
Koine instance of an accusative used with EXESTIN and infinitive. In  
Luke 20:22  I see that there's a variant reading hHMIN (Codex Bezae  
has hHMEIN, TR and MT have hHMIN; it would appear that a scribal  
"emendation" has replaced a well-attested early accusative hHMAS, the  
reading that the editors of NA27/UBS4 retain as well-attested in  
earlier MSS.

I think there may be some confusion about such impersonal verbs that  
take a dative or accusative subject and an infinitive (DEI, ANAGKH,  
EXESTIN, ENDECETAI, KTL.); some more commonly use a dative, others an  
accusative; the fact that an accusative is ordinarily the subject of  
infinitive may play some role in the variance in usage with the  
impersonal verbs. At any rate, I see no reason to assume that Luke was  
too good a composer of Koine Greek to have written hHMAS with EXESTIN  
and DOUNAI in 20:22.

> EKSESTIN + dat + inf is found
> as well as EKSESTIN + inf, but not EKSESTIN + subj acc + inf. (E/ 
> STIN +
> subj acc + inf is also not in the NT.) Both of the introductory Greek
> textbooks that I learned from, Chase & Phillips and Hansen & Quinn,
> clearly teach that EKSESTIN may be followed either by the dative or  
> the
> accusative. Like Dr. Conrad, Smyth is nearly silent about this
> construction:
> << When the subject of the infinitive is the same as the object (in  
> the
> genitive or dative) of the governing verb, it is often omitted, and a
> predicate noun is either attracted into the genitive or dative, or  
> stands
> in the accusative in agreement with the omitted subject of the
> infinitive. See 1060-1062. EKSESTIN hHMIN AGAQOIS EINAI or EKSESTIN  
> hMIN
> AGAQOUS EINAI it is in our power to be good (lit. to be good is  
> possible
> ENQYMHQENTAS hOTI KTL. we ask you therefore to listen to what is said,
> considering that, etc. 1. 14. 6. Cp. NYN SOI EKSESTIN ANDRI GENESQAI
> is
> in your power to become friends to the Lacedaemonians” T. 4.29. The
> latter construction may be explained as abbreviated for EKSESTIN hYMIN
> And...
> << The construction of the accusative with the infinitive seems to  
> have
> originated from the employment of the infinitive to complement the
> meaning of transitive verbs; as in KELEYW SE APELQEIN I command you to
> depart. Here the accusative was separated from the transitive verb and
> felt to be the independent subject of the infinitive (I command that  
> you
> depart). Gradually the accusative with the infinitive was used even  
> after
> verbs incapable of taking an object-accusative. >>
> In that last sentence Smyth seems to hint that in post-classical Greek
> one might find EKSESTIN (ESTIN) + subj acc + inf., but not in the  
> NT. Can
> anyone tell me if this construction is found in the LXX or the  
> apostolic
> fathers or anywhere else?
> Yours in His grace,
> Richard Ghilardi - qodeshlayhvh at juno.com
> West Haven, Connecticut USA
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