Luke 3:21-22

Date: Fri Nov 08 1996 - 05:17:45 EST


In doing some routine sermon prep. I have run into a passage that
for my limited Greek experience is like trying to unravel an Agatha
Christie mystery!

Here is the passage: (Hope the transliteration is correct for the
list's format)

Egeneto de en tw baptisqhnai hapanta ton laon kai Ihsou baptisqentos
kai proseuchomenou anewchqhnai ton ouranon kai katabhnai to pnuema
ton agion swmatikwn eidei ws peristeran ep auton, kai fwnhv ex
ouranou genesqai, Su ei ho huios mou ho agaphtos, en soi eudokhsa.

I have followed the lastest postings on the list concerning the
genitive absolute construction, so I felt as though I had found that
here with Ihsou baptisqentos kai proseuchomenou. However, I have
been thrown for a loop by the following infinitives, particularly
anewchqhnai and to a lesser extent by katabhnai. I assume that they
serve the same basic function since they seem to be joined by the

The first articular infinitive with the preposition in this passage
seems to mean something in the order of "he was in the act of
baptizing the whole crowd..." But the force of the other two eludes
me. If baptisqentos kai proseuchomenou are co-ordinate then it can
not be that Jesus prayed in order to open the heavens, which is an
absurd idea anyway. Clearly the infinitives anewchqhnai and
katabhnai are co-ordinate and relate to the passage in the same way
(I think).

Truth is I don't really know as you can tell by my thinking our
loud. Can anyone shed some light on how this construction works
here. It is important to me because of the inaugural significance
of the passage with respect to the ministry of Jesus. I have one
other question about this. Luke switches, in chapter 9 on the Mt of
Transfiguration, the agaphtos for eklelegmenos and the eudokhsa for
autou akouete. Is it stretching the bounds to see eudokhsa as
something like "of you I approve" so that in chapter 9, that
approval now finds its full expression in a settled and permanent
election (perfect), one unaltered by the passage of time between the
baptism and Transfiguration. Christ was the elected and approved one
for the mission of redemption, and the election still stood as he
faced its imminent fulfilment on the cross.

The descent of the Holy Spirit is the token, as I see it, of the
words which express the Father's approval. To this end I am seeking
to understand these infinitives.

Love to all the family,


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