Fri, 23 Aug 1996 21:58:54 -0700 (PDT)
Here is a follow-up to Carl's observations on TOSOUTWi CRONWi in Jn 14:9. I
ran a TLG search and got some interesting results. The same phrase occurs
several times in late authors, notably Epictetus (1-2 C.E.) who uses a
virtually identical construction to Jesus' more than once. But more interes-
ting is a citation from Demosthene's In Aphobum 1, sec. 28. I will give a
rather literal translation: But how is it not terrible if to us, besides
nothing having come to our benefit from them, even the pledges themselves
have been lost, we who did business before, while to him, who made the loan
with respect to our assets and did so (at) so great a period of time, both
the principle and the interest has been repaid....
It seems clear from this and the other citations mentioned that the force of
TOSOUTWi CRONWi is to mark a point in time after a considerable period of
elapsed time, almost the same as the dative of extent with comparative ad-
jectives; or to put it another way, one can almost add the word "after". Also,
the examples I saw were trying to make a point about the passage of time.
Two of the examples from Epictetus say something like "Who has known you for
a longer time than you yourself?", and in both Demosthenes' and Jesus' words
there is a sense of frustration or consternation. Jesus (as John translates
him?) would be saying something more like, "After so long a time that I have
been with you, do you still not recognize me?" The difference between this and
the accusative is subtle, to be sure, but it seems to be present. I should add,
however, that I have not looked at any commentaries yet and may only be re-
stating what someone else has already said. In any case, I think that we can
dismiss this construction as a solecism, and probably even as something con-
fined to later Greek. At the same time, it does cast a new light on the
textual problem that Carl noted. Most would assume that TOSOUTWi CRONWi is
the harder reading and therefore preferable to the accusative form, which is
attested in some very good manuscripts (that's what I thought at first). Now
I wonder whether the dative is still somewhat harder, or if the issue is a
wash, suggesting that we take a closer look at the MS evidence.
P.S. In rereading my post above, let me clarify that I mean the dative is
*not* a solecism, nor is it limited to late Greek.