Re: John 14:9 (and Acts 8:11)

Randy Leedy (
Tue, 27 Aug 1996 09:07:30 -0400

Don Wilkins wrote:

>>>Randy, I'm still chewing on this use of the dative with duration
of time, but the idea is crystallizing, and the analogy of the degree
of difference (with comparatives) seems to work. In that case,
hIKANWi CRONWi in Acts 8:11 fits in with the other examples, the idea
being that by (almost "after") so long a time he had been using
sorcery. (hIKANOS often has the subtle indication of a very long
time.) As is often the case (sorry, the pun seems unavoidable) in
Greek, here the point of view of the dative is the important factor.
The accusative would give us the same information, as you suggested,
but the dative seems to be measuring out the time, with the author
hinting to us that it is enough time to decide an issue.

I can't see this, myself. It appears to me that Luke is simply giving
background. I don't see any concern on Luke's part regarding the
people's culpability in following Simon. If it is implied in this
dative, then it's a point that Luke does not follow up; it plays no
role in the narrative that Luke presents.

>>>In Acts 8:11, the point would apparently be that we should be able
to understand why people paid attention to Simon, given the long time
he had been successful with his sorcery.

As I read the passage, Luke isn't saying that the people paid
attention to Simon at this particular point in history, as though he
just now did something remarkable. Rather, it is that they had been
paying attention to him all along, during the whole time of his
wizardry. Note, in this connection, the imperfect PROSEICON in v. 11.

>>>I haven't done any research in texts or articles on the subject,
but it seems clear at least that Turner was wrong about the dative
for duration of time (vol. 3 p. 243), even in his distinction between
Classical and Hellenistic usage (if so, one must forgive him for not
having access to computer-assisted research).

I'm very interested to see what additional goodies you uncover in
your research. I'm not yet ready to abandon Turner and go with your
idea wholesale, though it certainly seems to have a great deal of
merit. Maybe I'm just too dense to catch the full import of it;
still, it jars me out of the natural flow of the narrative here in
Acts. Thanks for the exercise.

In Love to God and Neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC