John 4:41

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Neil McFhane
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Joined: April 27th, 2017, 9:57 am

John 4:41

Post by Neil McFhane » April 27th, 2017, 10:16 am

Hey!

First post on the forum, so hello everyone! :) I've done about a year of New Testament Greek for college and am stuck revising some of John.

The verse is:
καὶ πολλῷ πλείους ἐπίστευσαν διὰ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ

πλείους is a feminine plural accusative adjective. I have some idea of an 'adverbial accusative' meaning this πλείους could be modifying ἐπίστευσαν to read as 'they believed more' meaning that their faith increased in some way.

But then trying to understand the dative πολλῷ confuses me - all the public translations suggest something like 'many (more) believed' - but why would the subject be in the dative? could πολλῷ then be the object of their belief?

This is the translation that I would get out of the above:
And they believed more in much [that Jesus did :?: ] because of his word.

I suspect I'm over complicating a simple verse, but I'm unsure how to make the different cases fit together.

Thanks

Neil
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: John 4:41

Post by Jonathan Robie » April 27th, 2017, 12:00 pm

Neil McFhane wrote:
April 27th, 2017, 10:16 am
Hey!

First post on the forum, so hello everyone! :)
Welcome! I hope you find the forum useful, and I'm glad you found us.
Neil McFhane wrote:
April 27th, 2017, 10:16 am
The verse is:
καὶ πολλῷ πλείους ἐπίστευσαν διὰ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ

πλείους is a feminine plural accusative adjective. I have some idea of an 'adverbial accusative' meaning this πλείους could be modifying ἐπίστευσαν to read as 'they believed more' meaning that their faith increased in some way.

But then trying to understand the dative πολλῷ confuses me - all the public translations suggest something like 'many (more) believed' - but why would the subject be in the dative? could πολλῷ then be the object of their belief?
Instead of starting with the morphology, it's often helpful to start by asking what the subject of the verb is. In this case, the subject of ἐπίστευσαν has to be πολλῷ πλείους, because that's who believed. Now you're right that πλείους might be a feminine plural accusative adjective in some other context (e.g. Acts 13:31, Acts 21:10) but in Greek the same form can often have more than one interpretation, and in this case it is a masculine nominative plural as in Acts 19:32, Acts 23:13, etc. If you had started by asking what the subject of the verb is, my guess is that it would have been obvious that one of the words in the subject has to be nominative.

So if we leave out πολλῷ, we have this:

καὶ πλείους ἐπίστευσαν διὰ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ

I assume that makes sense, once you realize what the subject is? So we come to the phrase πολλῷ πλείους, and as you noticed, this is an interesting use of the dative. You see it in phrases like πολλῷ by much, ὀλίγῳ by little, τῷ παντί in every respect. Smyth treats it here:
Smyth (1513) wrote: 1513. Manner (see also 1527).—The dative of manner is used with comparative adjectives and other expressions of comparison to mark the degree by which one thing differs from another (Dative of Measure of Difference).
κεφαλῇ ἐλά_ττων a head shorter (lit. by the head) P. Ph. 101a, ““οὐ πολλαῖς ἡμέραις ὕστερον ἦλθεν” he arrived not many days later” X. H. 1.1.1, ““ἰόντες δέκα ἡμέραις πρὸ Παναθηναίων” coming ten days before the Panathenaic festival” T. 5.47, ““τοσούτῳ ἥδι_ον ζῶ ὅσῳ πλείω κέκτημαι” the more I possess the more pleasant is my life” X. C. 8.3.40, “πολλῷ μείζων ἐγίγνετο ἡ βοὴ ὅσῳ δὴ πλείους ἐγίγνοντο” the shouting became much louder as the men increased in number” X. A. 4.7.23. So with πολλῷ by much, ὀλίγῳ by little, τῷ παντί in every respect (by all odds).

a. With the superlative: ““μακρῷ ἄριστα” by far the best” P. L. 858e.
Does that help?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Robert Crowe
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Re: John 4:41

Post by Robert Crowe » April 27th, 2017, 2:51 pm

Neil,
Your mistaking πλείους for an accusative is understandable, as the 2nd declension accusative plurals end in -ους. But πλείους is really an elided form of πλείονες (3rd declension nominative plural). The ν has elided and the adjacent vowels ο and ε have contracted to ου.
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Tús maith leath na hoibre.

Neil McFhane
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Joined: April 27th, 2017, 9:57 am

Re: John 4:41

Post by Neil McFhane » April 28th, 2017, 6:06 am

Thanks to you both! I'd got it into my head that it was an accusative and that's what kept me off the right track! aha, hopefully I'll be more alert to that sort of thing next time. :)
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