(Fwd) Coordinate series in Acts 2:42

Gregory Bloomquist 3027 (GBLOOMQUIST@spu.stpaul.uottawa.ca)
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 15:45:57 EDT

I am forwarding this message and my reply to both B-GREEK and ACTS-L
since both the query will be -- and my response may be -- of interest
to both groups.

Greg Bloomquist
------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
From: Randy Leedy <RLEEDY@wpo.bju.edu>
Subject: Coordinate series in Acts 2:42

literally: "They were continuing in the teaching of the apostles and
the fellowship, the breaking of the bread and the prayers.")

Nearly all the translations take the datives in this verse as a
coordinate series of four items. (They differ among themselves,
though, about whether "of the apostles" should be construed with both
"teaching" and "fellowship" or with "teaching" only.) The absence of
a conjunction between "fellowship" and "breaking," though, makes me
wonder whether there is a better way to construe the relationship
among these datives.

Is it possible to see a series of two ("teaching" and "fellowship"),
with "fellowship" further described by another series of two items:
"fellowship in the breaking of bread and the prayers." The one
translation I have found so far that does just this is the BIBLE IN
BASIC ENGLISH. I know little about this version and

The two issues I see are whether KOINWNIA can be used with the dative
this way (the genitive seems to be the usual case for expressing the
sphere within which the fellowship takes place) and how much
importance to attach to the asyndeton (i.e., absence of the
conjunction). Are there extra-biblical examples of KOINWNIA with the
dative rather than genitive? Is asyndeton just a way of avoiding
monotony in a long list of coordinate items, or does it signify some
sort of sub-grouping? If the absence of the conjunction between the
second and third items is supposed to separate the four items into
two groups of two, it's hard for me to see why (is it that the last
two are considered more ceremonial than the first two?)

I am inclined to read the verse as describing two primary apostolic
activities: teaching and fellowship (I am construing TWN APOSTOLWN
with both.) The fellowship is more fully described as taking place in
the spheres of the common meal and of established times of prayer
(THE prayers). But my questions keep me from being confident about
this. Does anyone have any answers?

---------------------------- response from Greg Bloomquist

In a study I did of this text for my course, I found the following
structure. The four-part elements of DIDAXH, KOINONIA, ARTON, and
PROSEUXH in 2.42 are strikingly picked up in this order in 2.43
(to which I will return), 2.44-45 (lexically), 2.46 (lexically), and
2.47a. Starting backwards, then, I understand the author to be
"fleshing out" in 2.43-47a the summary statement in 2.42, by showing
that (a) the "prayer" to which the early community adhered was
characterised by praise, (b) the breaking of bread was not limited to
Eucharist but extended to widespread commensality, (c) the "commonality"
the Lk says characterises the community was a commonality of possessions.

But, (d) hmmm? How can DIDAXH be gotten from 2.43? As I
understand it from this author, the kind of teaching that characterised the
apostolic (supported lexically in the parallel) teaching was one of signs
and wonders, not one that we perhaps often think of, namely, cerebral
catechesis. As such, the apostolic teaching was, at this point,
characterised by a thaumaturgic discursive culture, rather than by a
more catechetical culture. This seems both consistent with Acts in its earlier
portions and with developments in early Christianity as we know them.

I don't know if this structure has been discerned by others, but I
would be interested in any discussion of it.

Saint Paul University / University of Ottawa
223 Main, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 1C4 CANADA

email: gbloomquist@spu.stpaul.uottawa.ca
fax: 613-751-4016
voice: 613-782-3027