Re: Luke 4:21 (NIV)

On Mon, 9 May 1994, Carl Conrad wrote:

> I've just been reading a term-paper on the Baptism of Jesus in the Synoptics
> and note what seems like a questionable translation of Luke 3:21 in the NIV,
> which my student has used. The Greek reads: "Egeneto de en twi baptisthEnai
> hapanta ton laon kai IEsou baptisthentos kai proseuxomenou anewxthEhnai ton
> ouranon ..." NIV here gives: "When all the people were being baptized, Jesus
> was baptized too. And as he was praying,heaven was opened ..."
> I can't really say this is wrong, but I am somewhat bothered by the division
> of Luke's construction into separate sentences, with the result that a
> relationship between the baptism of Jesus and others and the descent of the
> Holy Spirit upon Jesus seems to be obscured or at least muddied.

The NIV is indeed questionable.  It seems to me that the division  into
two sentences is precisely the problem. The NIV seems to want to make the
impact of this sentence  that Jesus was included in the general baptism,
and secondly that the heavens were opened up while Jesus was praying.
Whereas the genitives absolute are  both circumstantial participles (of
time?, perhaps) describing or modifying the three following infinitives,
all of which are introduced by the initial "EGENETO DE."  

> I would assume that Luke intends the two genitive participles, baptisthentos
> and proseuxomenou, belong to IEsou as a genitive absolute construction and
> are intended to indicate that the descent of the spirit upon Jesus was an
> event distinct from and AFTER Jesus' emergence from the baptismal water--and
> that Luke here, for his own reasons, intended to depart from the somewhat
> different account given by Mark and retained by Matthew, that the Spirit
> descended upon Jesus as he was emerging or immediately after he emerged
> (Mark coordinates with a present participle, anabainwn, Luke gives the
> emergence in a separate indicative aorist) from the water.
> Is the NIV translation justifiable? I don't say that it isn't, but I don't
> understand it. Any takers?

I don't think so. At least I would need to be convinced.

Richard F. Wevers
Calvin College