Re: Acts 2:22-24

Carl W. Conrad (
Sun, 10 Nov 1996 08:35:55 -0600

At 7:42 AM -0600 11/10/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>I have several questions about Acts 2:22-24. First, a question about style
>(which pertains to the whole context, not just these verses). I haven't read
>any Greek rhetoric in the original, but I assume that this is more or less
>the style of classical Greek rhetoric, since it sounds like something I
>could imagine in a Cecil B. DeMille movie (in the original Greek versions
>of his movies, before they were dubbed). Am I right here? But this is Peter
>addressing a bunch of Jews. Why would he choose a classical Greek rhetorical
>style? Is there a parallel in the Jewish tradition? To what extent does this
>match the style that would be expected of a Jew addressing other Jews? If it
>doesn't match, why not?

A complicated question with no simple answer; nevertheless, there's a
common view, which I espouse, that Luke is following conventions of ancient
historiography as set down by Thucydides in the earlier part of Book 1 of
his historyof the Peloponnesian War, regarding degrees of precision, use of
speeches (especially--and the inerpretation o this part is not free from
controversy): and this is applicable here: the question: did Luke compose
this speech? did he edit it from a source available to him? Did he use a
speech that he derived directly from some source? Opinions differ. I think
that if he did get it from a source he edited it into a conventional Greek
rheorical style because he is following historiographic conventions. You
might want to put this question to the Acts-L list at Toronto; its
substance has been discussed at some length there in the past couple years.
I hope Ken Litwak will reply--this bears heavily on his dissertation work
and he has some views that are probably not conventional.

>Acts 2:22 (GNT) Andres Israhlitai, akousate tous logous toutous: Ihsoun ton
>Nazwraion, andra apodedeigmenon apo tou qeou eis umas dunamesi kai terasi
>kai shmeiois ois epoihsen di autou o qeos en mesw umwn kaqws autoi oidate,
>23 touton th wrismenh boulh kai prognwsei tou qeou ekdoton dia ceiros anomwn
>prosphxantes aneilate, 24 on o qeos anesthsen lusas tas wdinas tou qanatou,
>kaqoti ouk hn dunaton krateisqai auton up autou.
>Acts 2:22 (NASU) "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene,
>a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God
>performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know--23 this
>[Man], delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God,
>you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put [Him] to death. 24
>"But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it
>was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
>More questions:
>In verse 22, why is Ihsoun accusative in the phrase "Ihsoun ton Nazwraion"?
>I expected that to be a direct object of something, and I made my way all
>the way to the end of verse 24 without encountering a subject to match it.

It's the object of ANEILATE: Luke puts the whole complex object first, in
fine rhetorical fashion, Look carefully at the translation and you'll see
that it's clarified by the reiterated TOUTON referring back to IHSOUN.

>In verse 22, "dunamesi kai terasi kai shmeiois", I assume this is an
>instrumental dative? (I'm still struggling with these categories.) If this
>is an instrumental dative, is there any virtue in classifying it with a more
>detailed subcategory?

Yes, it is. I don't know about sub-classifying beyond this: I tell students
that "with" generally fits the instrumental-comitative dative: you could
split this into "instrumental/means" and translate "by means of" and
"accompaniment" and translate "with."
>In verse 23, can anyone help me parse "touton th wrismenh boulh kai
>prognwsei tou qeou"? I think I'm missing the force of the dative in "th
>wrismenh" and the meaning of the combination "th wrismenh boulh".

I think this is instrumental also: "by the determined counsel and
foreknowledge of God." That is, it didn't happen just by human scheming and
conniving, Luke's Peter insists: it happened, even if by means of the
people he's addressing, in accordance with God's deliberate design. If you
think this is paradoxical, you're in good company.

That's an oversimple response to a complex question.

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