Re: John 14:9 (& Acts 8:11)

Date: Mon Aug 26 1996 - 13:56:37 EDT

Randy, I'm still chewing on this use of the dative with duration of time, but
the idea is crystallizing, and the analogy of the degree of difference (with
comparatives) seems to work. In that case, hIKANWi CRONWi in Acts 8:11 fits
in with the other examples, the idea being that by (almost "after") so long
a time he had been using sorcery. (hIKANOS often has the subtle indication of
a very long time.) As is often the case (sorry, the pun seems unavoidable) in
Greek, here the point of view of the dative is the important factor. The
accusative would give us the same information, as you suggested, but the dative
seems to be measuring out the time, with the author hinting to us that it is
enough time to decide an issue. In Acts 8:11, the point would apparently be
that we should be able to understand why people paid attention to Simon, given
the long time he had been successful with his sorcery. This distinction is a
little harder to make out here because of DIA (which has us thinking this way
even before we get to hIKANWi CRONWi). BTW, I considered searching the TLG
for hIKANWi CRONWi and may still do so, but my assumption was that what was
true for TOSOUTWi CRONWi would be true for this phrase as well (i.e. if I can
find parallel constructions; I'm pretty sure I'll do the search).
I haven't done any research in texts or articles on the subject, but it seems
clear at least that Turner was wrong about the dative for duration of time
(vol. 3 p. 243), even in his distinction between Classical and Hellenistic
usage (if so, one must forgive him for not having access to computer-assisted
On the textual criticism issue, your questions are really very good ones. In
a previous post voiced skepticism over the methods used in higher criticism,
but the same skepticism is warranted with respect to tc. It is very easy to
get too comfortable in methodology of which almost everyone approves, even
when we have no indisputable proof that it works.

Don Wilkins
UC Riverside

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