Re: Acts 20:7

From: Carlton L. Winbery (
Date: Sat Sep 14 1996 - 02:44:42 EDT

John Oaklands wrote;
>How are we to understand the perfect passive participle SYNHGMENWN in Acts
>20:7? Does SYNHGMENOI in v. 8 have precisely the same time reference? To
>determine the v.7 time reference does it matter whether Luke is the author
>not? For example, if we take the view that he was the author, was he a
>convert from diaspora Judaism or from Hellenism, i.e. a Gentile convert?
>Then, which time reckoning might he be employing for the first day of the
>week? If a Jew would it not be sunset reckoning? But if a Greek, is the
>reckoning of the day from sunrise, as some suggest? On the other hand, if
>Theophilus was a Roman might Luke then be using Roman time and was that from
>midnight? Of these three options where would SYNHGMENWN fit best? What
>would be it's meaning in each case?

I really don't see that the question about the two perfect ptcs has
anything to do with the question about the first day of the week.

The first ptc SUNHGMENWN is part of a genitive absolute and simply
indicates "when they were come together," i.e., it indicates the time when
Paul was dialoguing with them.
The second is part of a periphrastic construction with hOU indicating where
"we were meeting."

>For example, if Luke is using Jewish reckoning then no doubt he's talking
>about Saturday night here (in our reckoning). That's how some of the
>translations also have it. So would SYNHGMENWN mean then that when sunset
>came and the first day of the week began, they had already met for the
>breaking of bread?

The participle in vs. 7 would not indicate one way or another here.

>On the other hand if Luke is using Greek reckoning then the reference here
>would be to Sunday night. But then what would SYNHGMENWN refer to? If it
>means that they were already in meeting when the first day dawned then did
>they perhaps start out in the early hours of Saturday morning? Or is that
>taking SYNHGMENWN too literally? It seems most unlikely that they would
>have been meeting early Saturday morning and the whole 24 hours of the Greek
>first day of the week.

It still refers to the time when they came together whenever it was.

>Furthermore, we could reasonably expect that Luke might have been using
>Roman time reckong for the first day, from midnight, if that is how they did
>it. In that case the meeting would have been on Sunday night and
>translations which have 'Sunday night' would be in order. But then how
>would SYNHGMENWN need to be understood? If it means that they had already
>been in meeting when the first day came in then they were there from some
>time on Saturday night, all through the night and the day and the next night
>until the early hours of Monday morning, which is pretty unthinkable. But
>if that has to be ruled out, then why the perfect participle passive?
>See my dilemma? May be some "BIG Greeks" can help me? Are there any
>Hellenistic or classical Greek parallels that might help us here? I haven't
>found anything quite the same in the NT, but of course there might be. At
>least the literature seems to me to be confusing--though I could be wrong,
>of course--and often theologically prejudiced and directed.
I don't think your question has anything to do with the ptcs.

Carlton L. Winbery
Prof. NT & Greek La College

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