Re: Sequential order in Acts 28:25

Carl W. Conrad (
Thu, 30 May 1996 17:11:47 -0500

At 4:28 PM -0500 5/30/96, Kenneth Litwak wrote:
> There is, so I've learned recently a great deal of disagreement over the
>sequence of events in Acts 28:24-25. The crux interpretum is over whether
>or not
>the genitive absolute in v. 25b, EIPONTOS TOU PAULOU, is the cause, and
>prior to
>and whether v 25b is antecedent to v 25a ASUMFWNOI DE ONTES PROS ALLHLOUS
>APELUONTO. My understanding of the syntax is that
>1. Some were being persuaded, but others were refuisng to believe
>2. While they were in dispute,
>3. they began to depart, AFTER Paul said one word.
>I would expect the aorist genitive absolute to precede the imperfect
>but I can't think of when I've seen a present participial phrase, a finite
>and an aorist genitive absolute all stacked up together like this, so the
>about temporal relations, not to mention what Porter would say (and I
>don't recall
>if he grants a temporal significance to a genitive absolute -- probably
>not), may
>not apply in the usual "neat" way. I'd appreicate the thoughts of others
>on this
>construction. Thanks.

Ken, I think that Paul's sequence here is most probably a natural one: vs
23 sets forth the substance of the lengthy parley between Paul and his
visitors; vs 24 indicates their divided reactions to what he said to them
(I'd translate, "Some of them were gradually won over by what he said,
while others still refused to believe."). vs 25a restates, I think, the
substance of vs 24, then says that they dispersed--but only AFTER Paul had
pronounced his pronouncement (hEN hRHMA) in their presence. I think that
(a) the genitive absolute IS temporal in force here and that the aorist
participle does indicate action prior to the APOLUESQAI of the guests, (b)
the genitive absolute phrase FOLLOWS the main clause precisely in order to
allow the entire citation beginning with the hOTI, to follow directly and
with powerful rhetorical effect upon hEN hRHMA: "They went their separate
ways after Paul had stated one proposition: (namely) 'Well did the holy
spirit ...'"

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR