From: Jim Beale (email@example.com)
Date: Fri May 16 1997 - 19:27:51 EDT
TO GAR ADUNATON TOU NOMOU, EN hWi HSQENEI DIA THS SARKOS,
hO QEOS TON hEAUTOU hUION PEMYAS EN hOMOIWMATI SARKOS
hAMARTIAS KAI PERI hAMARTIAS KATEKRINEN THN hAMARTIAN
EN THi SARKI
Wow! I'm really having trouble understanding the grammar of this
verse. Perhaps if I jot down my thoughts it will all become clear,
or someone will provide some helpful hints.
TO ADUNATON can either be nominative or accusative. Commentators
generally seem to take it as a nominative absolute, though Sanday
and Headlam (ICC, ad loc.) take it as accusative. They adduce an
interesting example from the Theaetetus:
KAI EPI TOUTOIS TON KOLOFWNA,
ANAGKAZW PROSBIBAZW THN XRUSHN SEIRAN
hWS OUDEN ALLO H TON hHLION
where TON KOLOFWNA is definitely accusative. I'm not sure whether
the example of the masculine accusative logically governs the neuter
or not. Supposing that it does, and that then "TO GAR ADUNATON TOU
NOMOU" is accusative, then one of the following should hold: (a) it
is cognate (or in apposition to an unexpressed cognate accusative),
(b) it is in apposition with the object of the sentence, or (c) it
is an accusative of general reference.
(a) TO ADUNATON is cognate to ASQENEW, but this leaves me wondering
what sense can be made of EN hWi, which would have to be a coordinating
conjunction, "in which." BDF suggests that EN hWi should be rendered
"because" (S. 219(2)). So does Zerwick (S. 119). It seems to me
that if it is taken as "because" then it is more difficult to take TO
ADUNATON as an accusative.
(b) Supposedely, TO ADUNATON TOU NOMOU can be taken in apposition to
the principal clause, "hO QEOS ... KATEKRINEN THN hAMARTIAN EN THi
SARKI," but I'm not sure how to make sense of this idea.
(c) If it must be taken as accusative, this makes the most sense to me.
ASQENEW is intransitive, and so an adverbial accusative is at least
possible. Still, it isn't very satisfying.
ADUNATON, as a verbal adjective, can either have an active or a passive
sense: either "weakness" or "impossibility". The NT usage seems to be
unanimous in favor of the active sense. Also, I think that if ADUNATON
was passive, it would rather be followed by the dative TWi NOMWi. So,
I think that ADUNATON is active.
Last, it seems to me that TO GAR ADUNATON TOU NOMOU is best seen as a
nominative absolute. None of the ways to understand it as an accusative
are persuasive, though I'm sure there is more to be said. Either way,
it is a difficult verse.
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