Re: Acts 8.35 and 40: euangelizo

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Apr 25 1997 - 16:43:35 EDT

At 2:12 PM -0500 4/25/97, Gregory Bloomquist 3027 wrote:
>The NRSV translation of Acts 8.35 appears to make euangelizo +
>accusative (ton Ihsoun) = verb + direct object, while it makes 8.40
>euangelizo + accusative (tas poleis pasas) = verb + indirect object.
>It translates 8.35: [Philip] proclaimed to him (dative) the good news
>about Jesus (accusative), and 8.40: he proclaimed the good news to
>all the towns (accusative).
>Would it not be more correct to translate 8.35: "he preached to him
>the Good News about Jesus", and 8.40 "[Philip] passed through all
>the towns (accusative) of that region, preaching the good news
>[simplicter]", taking the accusative with dierchomenos (as BAGD has
>its first choice, though, strangely, not for this verse)?
>Am I missing something?

This is an interesting question in more than one respect. A check with LSJ
is not really very helpful, as it offers exactly what you've shown, namely
that EUAGGELIZOMAI in 8:40 is taking TAS POLEIS PASAS as an accusative
object, despite the fact that there's a participle DIERCOMENOS immediately
preceding the verb EUHGGELIZETO. There's certainly no problem in 8:35; one
would expect a direct object and a dative of the person to whom the gospel
is proclaimed, but 8:40 is different. The odd thing about DIERCOMAI is that
it is rarely used in the concrete sense of travel through an area and is
normally used in a transferred sense (most frequely "narrate"). I don't
have BAGD ready to hand, owing to an absurd accident that I have described
heretofore, but I think you are right here: that TAS POLEIS PASAS ought to
be understood as the object of DIERCOMENOS and EUHGGELIZETO ought to be
understood absolutely: as you say, literally, "going through every village,
he kept preaching ..." I think you're right and NRSV and LSJ are wrong. The
fact that the imperfect is used in EUHGGELIZETO seems to me to make this
all the more natural, since the sentence ends with hEWS TOU ELQEIN AUTON
EIS KAISAREIAN, "until he arrived at Caesarea." So what we actually have
is: " ... and making his way through every village, he kept preaching the
gospel until he arrived at Caesarea."

We may talk about evangelizing a city or a country, but that does seem odd
in Greek, which generally speaks of Athenians and Jerusalemites rather than
of Athens and Jersualem as direct objects of a verb of this sort. I think
that what must have occasioned this reading of the text is the fact that
EUHGGELIZETO is the verb closer to TAS POLEIS PASAS. Of course the actual
meaning of the passage is not significantly different, but I'm rather
surprised to find LSJ taking TAS POLEIS PASAS as a direct object of

Just for the heck of it I just did a quick search of the present stem
EUAGGELIZ-in Acts on the TLG disk; I found several accusatives of the goods
tidings proclaims but only one of a person proclaimed to--and it was the
pronoun hUMAS. So I do think there's something fishy about making TAS

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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