Re: Acts 2:5 - apo pantos eqnous twn upo ton ouranon

Carl W. Conrad (
Fri, 1 Nov 1996 05:31:04 -0600

At 9:32 PM -0600 10/31/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>I don't know how to parse the last 4 words in this verse, TWN UPO TON OURANON:
>Acts 2:5 (GNT) hsan de eis Ierousalhm katoikountes Ioudaioi, andres eulabeis
>apo pantos eqnous twn upo ton ouranon.
>Acts 2:5 (NASU) Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from
>every nation under heaven.
>What does TWN refer to? It doesn't seem to be EQNOUS -- TWN is plural,
>EQNOUS is singular.

What the article here does is to transform the preopositional phrase hUPO
TON OURANON into a substantive that can be subjected to the declensional
pattern of any noun. While this is particularly common with neuter
adjectives (e.g. TO KALON, TO PONHRON),it is not really much less common
with adverbial expressions: hOI EN THi IOUDAIAi = Those in Judaea, hOI TOTE
EN TWi hIERWi = Those at that time in the temple; you could readily argue
that the participle of EIMI is implicitly present in these, as it is often
openly expressed: hOI EN THi IOUDAIAi ONTES, hOI TOTE EN TWi hIERWi ONTES;
the articular participle (hOI TAUTHN THN EPISTOLHN ANAGIGNWSKONTES = people
reading this letter) and the articular infinitive (TO TAUTHN THN EPISTOLHN
ANAGIGNWSKEIN = the reading of this letter) are really forms of the same
thing. So I would understand the phrase TWN hUPO TON OURANON as implicitly
inclusive of a participle ONTWN or OIKOUNTWN or the like: "devout men from
every nationality of (people who are/dwell) under heaven." The genitive is
indeed partititive, but I think that your problem was more likely with the
substantive usage of the article with the preopositional phrase.

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