[B-Greek] Didache's use of Apostles/Prophets to Apostle/Prophet

James Ernest j.d.ernest at bc.edu
Sun May 3 08:22:20 EDT 2009

Mitch wrote:> We are all reminded in GGBB the rules of Granville Sharp,
particularly the plural use
>  with personal nouns/substantives. So the Art/Subst./KAI/Subst, if the
> are plural (which therefore the Art will be plural), then these do NOT
refer to the same
> group of people.

Wallace's treatment of "plural personal constructions" is actually a lot
more nuanced: see pp. 278-286, where he describes a spectrum of
possibilities, from "distinct groups, though united" (i.e., treated as a
single bloc in some particular respect) to "both groups identical." (The NT
examples that he discusses include "of the prophets and apostles" in Eph
4:11.) I.e., Wallace does not state categorically that according to
Granville Sharp's rule the use of one article with two plural nouns means
that the two nouns do not refer to the same group. The two groups may be
identical, or they may not.

Bryant wrote:
> the book is very close in its use of the LXX, quoting Matthew almost

It's not clear that the Didache quotes Matthew at all (see Michael Holmes's
into to the Didache in the Baker Academic edition of the AF); and if it does
depend directly on Matthew in ch. 1, maybe that chapter is a later addition
(see Bart Ehrman's intro in the Loeb edition).

As for YEUDOPROFHTHS and YEUDAPOSTOLOS: both words are used in Christian
Greek, but "false prophet" is also in the LXX and so is the older and more
common word. Compare the single occurrence of "false apostle" in the NT with
the long list of occurrences of "false prophet." I.e., in earliest
Christianity, "false prophet" is a well-known concept while "false apostle"
is a new coinage. TLG turns up 184 instances of "false apostle" but 615
instances of "false prophet" in a list of authors that is about 2.5 times as

So maybe it's not surprising that the rebuff of one claiming to be an
apostle should use the term "false prophet." In contemporary English "false
prophet" is still a common and flexibly used term, often used, with the
emphasis on "false," or people never labeled as prophets in the first place.
The logic works even if apostle is regarded as a higher office: a "false
prophet" is not even a real prophet, much less an apostle. BDAG's note that
Justin's quotation of Matt 24 changes "false prophets" to "false apostles"
may indicate some inclination to differentiate and clarify?

Anyway, I would just try to exegete Didache and not worry about Granville
Sharp here.

James Ernest

More information about the B-Greek mailing list