Re: Gal 3:10 tou poihsai auta

Carl W. Conrad (
Sun, 29 Sep 1996 20:35:07 -0500

At 7:35 PM -0500 9/29/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>Could someone please explain the force of this phrase in Galations 3:10? I
>understand the use of the genitive in TOU or the use of the aorist
>infinitive in
>POIHSAI, which makes the phrase rather cryptic to me.
>Gala 3:10 (GNT) osoi gar ex ergwn nomou eisin upo kataran eisin gegraptai gar
>oti Epikataratos pas os ouk emmenei pasin tois gegrammenois en tw bibliw tou
>nomou tou poihsai auta
>Gala 3:10 (NASU) For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse;
>for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things
>in the book of the law, to perform them."

Actually this is a not uncommon Hellenistic Greek construction--which fact,
of course, is not in itself helpful to one encountering it for the first

The articular infinitive TOU POIHSAI (AUTA) expresses a purpose clause,
equivalent to hINA POIHSHi AUTA. Originally the preposition hENEKA (more
properly a POSTposition because it generally follows upon rather than
precedes the genitive it governs). hENEKA functions like CAUSA or GRATIA
with a genitive in Latin, meaning "for the sake of"; in Latin one of these
is commonly used with a gerund or gerundive to express purpose: FACIENDI
HAEC CAUSA, "for the sake of doing these things," i.e. "in order to do
these things." That's the exact equivalent of the articular infinitive in
the genitive construction in Gal 3:10, where one might argue that hENEKA is
understood as following the genitive articular infinitive, although in fact
that hENEKA at some point became unnecessary as the genitive of the
articular infinitive became a very common equivalent of the hINA +
subjunctive purpose clause; I should note that you're just as likely to see
EIS + acc. articular infinitive as an equivalent of the hINA + subjunctive
purpose clause.

As for the aorist, remember that the tenses of the infinitive almost always
indicates verbal aspect rather than time. Here I'd say that the aorist of
POIHSAI indicates "get them performed" (AUTA, of course, refers back to the

>P.S., My access to the Internet will be intermittent in the next few weeks,
>since I'll be on a business trip in Germany (documenting the Java
>interface for
>our object oriented database). Don't worry, I'll be back, and hungry as always

Well, if you get THIRSTY in Munich, drop into the Hofbraeuhaus and have a
Masskrug of dunkeles, for old times' sake. You're just a bit late for the
Oktoberfest, although I guess there's still litter on the Wiese.

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