From: John M. Sweigart (email@example.com)
Date: Sat May 17 1997 - 09:20:03 EDT
Jim Beale wrote:
> 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.
> Any thoughts?
> In Christ,
> Jim Beale
Some thoughts in response. It may be that we are being done in by two
or more ellipses. I have diagrammed the verse by putting the phrase TO
ADUNATON TOU NOMON as the direct object clause of THEOS (did). The EN HO
phrase has to be subordinate to the expression "that which was
impossible for the law (to do)" because is gives the reason why it was
impossible for the law to do something i.e. give victory over the power
of indwelling sin. Then the prepositional phrase PERI HAMARTIAS is
brought forward in the second part of the compound sentence for emphasis
and the thought is completed in verse 4. BTW there's another problem
child like this waiting for you in 9:22-23.
John of Dover
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