Re: Acts 17:25; AUTOS DIDOUS

Carl W. Conrad (
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 15:10:43 -0600

At 2:07 PM -0600 11/22/96, Randy Leedy wrote:
>AUTOS DIDOUS in Acts 17:25 looks like a sure enough nominative
>absolute; just like the genitive absolute except in the nominative
>case. The only difference I can see between this and an unquestioned
>absolute construction is that the subject of the absolute participle
>does not usually appear in the governing clause (see Blass &
>DeBrunner, #423); here AUTOS refers to and agrees with hO QEOS in v.
>24, the subject of the governing clause. However, in Matt. 12:46,
>nobody questions that AUTOU LALOUNTOS is a genitive absolute, even
>though Jesus also appears in the genitive in the governing clause (hH
>MHTHR KAI hOI ADELFOI AUTOU). So I don't see any reason not to take
>AUTOS DIDOUS in Acts 17:25 as a true nominative absolute.
>None of the grammars on my shelf (Blass & DeBrunner, Robertson,
>Turner, Dana & Mantey, Burton, and Wallace) or a friend's (Young)
>mention a genitive-absolute-like construction in the nominative (in
>Wallace and Robertson the Nominative Absolute participle is
>substantival rather than circumstantial).
>Have the grammars missed something?

I don't really think so (at least not in this instance). As you say, Randy,
AUTOS DIDOUS in Acts 17:25 "refers to and agrees with hO QEOS in v.25, the
subject of the governing clause." Moreover, I don't really see any reason
why one shouldn't understand the phrase as functioning in a reasonably
common adverbial participial usage: "... nor is he served by human hands
(as if he were) being in want of anything, having given of his own accord
life and breath and everything to all creatues ..." Perhaps you are
thinking of AUTOS here as a pronominal subject of DIDOUS? But I think
rather that AUTOS here functions as the intensive pronoun: he does not need
anything that human hands could supply him because he has HIMSELF given all
creatures everything. So I think that we actually have here not a not
altogether uncommon instance of a circumstantial participial usage.

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