Re: Acts 4:23-37, several questions

Carl W. Conrad (
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 05:43:59 -0600

At 10:25 PM -0600 12/16/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>I'm in a hotel room, without access to books, and I had several questions
>while reading this passage:
>Acts 4:25 EQNH KAI LAOI
>What is the difference between EQNH and LAOI? How is the phrase EQNESIN KAI
>LAOIS ISRAHL to be understood?

EQNH is the normal Greek for Heb.GOYIM, lit. "peoples," but in idiomatic
usage,"Gentiles"--non-Jews. Note that 4:25 is a citation from Psalm 2
presumably cited from the LXX, it is a piece of poetic parallelism, and in
this instance alone, I think that EQNH and LAOI probably are synonymous and
literal for "nations of the world." In 4:27, however, the more normal
distinction seems to be drawn between Gentiles and Israel in the particular
Christian interpretation of the Psalm. I think this is unique in its plural
form LAOI/LAOIS, where it is normally LAOS ISRAHL; it would appear that the
interpretation has adopted the plural in order to adapt it to the diction
of the Psalm, even though the Psalm, in its original message, was almost
certainly not referring to the "people of Israel."

>OK, it is a genitive aorist participle, but what does that mean? Zerwick's
>Grammatical Analysis has a terse reference to "absolute of prayer, genitive
>absolute". How is this phrase to be understood?

Jonathan, how could you!? After all that earlier discussion of genitive
absolutes (and even some talk about them yesterday)? This is simply "as
they prayed."

>Acts 4:34 PWLOUNTES
>Is this a nominative absolute?

Let us not even speak of such things as nominative absolutes! This is an
ordinary circumstantial participle, in agreement with the subject ( the
relative clause with antecedent implicit in the pronoun--'those who'--OSOI
=2E.. KTHTORES XWRIWN H OIKIWN hUPHRXON). "Those who owned plots of land or
houses would sell them (ptc. stands for a parallel imperfect) and bring the
proceeds of what they had sold."

>Zerwick says hUIOS PARAKLHSEWS is "not possibly a translation of Barnabas".
>Any comment on this? No less an authority than my 6th grade Sunday School
>teacher told me that it was...

This will require an authority on Aramaic, which I ain't! I know that "BAR"
is "son"--but what should NABAS actually mean? I have no idea.

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