Re: Another Translation Question: Acts 19:16

From: Carlton L. Winbery (
Date: Fri Apr 26 1996 - 17:12:08 EDT

John Barach wrote concerning Acts 19:16 (MT);
>According to the majority reading--which I'm following, but which I don't
>want to defend right now =) --there's a present masculine participle,
>something which is either a neuter singular aorist participle or a third
>person plural aorist verb, and the main verb--third person singular.

KATAKURIEUSAN (A, M in N-A27) This is clearly the aorist active participle
neuter sing, for it does not have the augment. This would mean that it
agreees with the evil spirit in the man rather than the man himself, hence,
the evil spirit "overpowered" the seven sons of Sceva not the man.

>usually translated with three finite verbs, and that gets the sense across.
> But what would be the most "literal" translation, best reflecting the
>participles in the Greek?
>"And, the man in whom the evil spirit was leaping on them, it (the spirit?)
>having overpowered them, it/he prevailed against them. . . "???
The first participle (aorist deponent in N-A27) would in this case be the
smoother reading. The present tense of the MT is the more difficult in
that you would not expect the present ptc and the aorist ptc to be joined
together as circumstantial in this context. The N-A27 reads "the man in
whom the evil spirit was, having jumped on them and overpowered them both
(?), defeated (had power over) them with the result that naked and
traumatized they fled from that house."

If the first ptc is present you might render it "while jumping on them . .
." but that would be a wooden translation. If the second ptc is neuter
then you would do as you have done and make it clear that the spirit
overpowered them. It is difficult to decide between these variants. If
you go with the more difficult, you would go with M for the first ptc, with
the Alex for the second ptc and with the Alex for AMFOTERWN. If I judged
this on the basis of external alone, I would go with the Alexandrian.
Others would go with the Byz or MT.

Carlton Winbery
Fogleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College

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