Infinitives in Luke 3:21-22

Grammar questions which are not related to any specific text.
Post Reply
Steve Page
Posts: 4
Joined: October 1st, 2019, 5:05 pm

Infinitives in Luke 3:21-22

Post by Steve Page » April 20th, 2020, 11:17 pm

This question was asked before [here][http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... E%B1#p8202], but the responses didn't address the infinitives I had a question about.
ἀνεῳχθῆναι τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ καταβῆναι τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον
In terms of Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, which, if any, of his categories under the Infinitive do these fall?

Luke's text is elegant and clear, but I was surprised by the infinitives when I attempted a very literal translation.
0 x



Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1854
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Infinitives in Luke 3:21-22

Post by Barry Hofstetter » April 21st, 2020, 7:28 am

Moderator Note: Please inform a moderator of your actual first and last name (B-Greek policy) so that we can change your screen name to match.

21 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν καὶ Ἰησοῦ βαπτισθέντος καὶ προσευχομένου ἀνεῳχθῆναι τὸν οὐρανὸν 22 καὶ καταβῆναι τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον σωματικῷ εἴδει ὡς περιστερὰν ἐπʼ αὐτόν, καὶ φωνὴν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ γενέσθαι, Σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα

Pretty much any Greek author can surprise you. You get comfortable with the style, you are reading along pleasantly, and all of sudden a curve ball smacks you right in the face... :)

Two possibilities:

1) Luke uses the Semitic/LXX idiom ἐγένετο to introduce the subsequent action. This construction is normally followed by complementary (subjective) infinitives, or you could look at it as a form of indirect statement. Either way the infinitives would be dependent on ἐγένετο.

2) You have the articular infinitive ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι. It's possible that the subsequent infinitives are considered part of an extended articular infinitive phrase. I think that's less likely a) because you would expect another verb to go with ἐγένετο which is otherwise left hanging and b) with the subsequent infinitives removed so far from the original article, I suspect the preposition and the article to be repeated if that was really the intended construction.
0 x
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

nathaniel j. erickson
Posts: 57
Joined: May 16th, 2016, 9:27 am
Contact:

Re: Infinitives in Luke 3:21-22

Post by nathaniel j. erickson » April 21st, 2020, 8:41 am

Barry wrote: 1) Luke uses the Semitic/LXX idiom ἐγένετο to introduce the subsequent action. This construction is normally followed by complementary (subjective) infinitives, or you could look at it as a form of indirect statement. Either way the infinitives would be dependent on ἐγένετο.
This is by far the most likely way to understand the construction. Under Wallace's categories, it would be considered a Subject use of the infinitive (page 600-01). This is a fairly common usage of the infinitive but it is rather non-intuitive from an English perspective. The entire infinitive clause/phrase functions as the subject of the verb Ἐγένετο.
Luke's text is elegant and clear, but I was surprised by the infinitives when I attempted a very literal translation.
A "very literal way" to gloss the passage to show the way it works would be something like:

Ἐγένετο ... ἀνεῳχθῆναι τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ καταβῆναι τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον
"the opening-of-heaven and the descending-of-the-Holy-Spirit happened..." Note how each infinitive clause/phrase becomes a complex subject for the verb "it happened" allowing Luke to present a whole state of affairs as the subject.

It seems like the infinitive clause καὶ φωνὴν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ γενέσθαι· "and there was a voice from heaven" also functions the same way, as another subject of ἐγένετο: "and the voice-coming-from-heaven." This whole big mess of a sentence serves to introduce the main point, namely the temptation of Jesus and his ministry that we are heading toward right after this event.
0 x
Nathaniel J. Erickson
NT PhD candidate, ABD
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
ntgreeketal.com
ὅπου πλείων κόπος, πολὺ κέρδος
ΠΡΟΣ ΠΟΛΥΚΑΡΠΟΝ ΙΓΝΑΤΙΟΣ

Steve Page
Posts: 4
Joined: October 1st, 2019, 5:05 pm

Re: Infinitives in Luke 3:21-22

Post by Steve Page » April 21st, 2020, 4:53 pm

Barry, Nathaniel, thank you for your input. I'm an amateur translator, and I avoid simply assuming that I understand constructions I don't understand. That Luke ties all three infinitives to the initial Ἐγένετο makes sense, as does Luke imitating the style of the LXX. Your input allows me to hold that conviction with some confidence.
0 x

Post Reply

Return to “Grammar Questions”