Re: hWN in Acts 1:1

Randy Leedy (
Tue, 29 Oct 1996 12:11:38 -0400

Carl has said most of what needs to be said on this subject, which
seems to be recurring once a day or so. I hope this further comment
will prove helpful. Jonathan posted someone's suggestion about a
partitive genitive. Since he kept the comments anonymous, I don't
know who I may be butting heads with, but to me it seems wrong to
construe the pronoun with HRXATO at all. "Began" is the main verb of
the relative clause, but hWN is the object, not of "began," but of
"to do and teach." The infinitives complete the indicative (they
answer the question "what" after "began"), and the pronoun (referring
to "all things," PANTWN) is the object of the infinitives. Its early
position in the sentence (the common position for relatives, at least
in Koine) somewhat obscures its grammatical function, and a little
extra thinking is required to figure out the grammatical road map.

In summary, Jesus began what? To do and to teach. He did and taught
what? The things represented by hWN. It seems quite obvious that the
pronoun is the object of the infinitives, attracted from the
accusative to agree with the genitive antecedent. Why jump through
grammatical hoops when there is such a straightforward explanation?

This verse points out the value of an exercise I have been having my
Acts students do this semester. I call it "kernal accounting." I use
"kernal" here in the sense of a sentence component consisting of a
verb form, its subject, and any complement. Having students pick out
the verbs and identify their subjects and objects (which are
sometimes whole clauses themselves, as is the case here with the
complement of HRXATO) reveals some interesting weaknesses in their
understanding of grammar; hopefully it leads to strengthening the
students at those points!

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