From: Carl W. Conrad (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Aug 26 1997 - 09:35:08 EDT
At 9:58 PM -0500 8/25/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>At 02:18 AM 8/26/97, Ben Crick wrote:
>> There is something epigrammatic about XAIREIN META XAIRONTWN, KLAIEIN META
>> KLAIONTWN. It is one of those Pauline epigrams, such as EMOI GAR TO ZHN
>> CRISTOS KAI TO APOQANEIN KERDOS (Philippians 1:21).
>> Or is it a sort of journalistic "headline" style, as in the anarthrous
>> to Mark 1:1, ARCH TOU EUAGGELIOU IHSOU CRISTOU ?
>Well, one distinctive feature of this verse is the infinitive used with
>imperative force, which Robertson calls an "absolute infinitive". I guess it
>is similar to English phrases like "smoking prohibited", though "smoking" is
>not an infinitive. German has similar form that does use an infinitive, e.g.
>"Rauchen verboten", "Betreten verboten".
I wouldn't term this an "absolute infinitive"--see Smyth #2012--(nor relate
it, as Ben Crick has suggested Robertson might be doing, to the Hebrew
infinitive absolute); rather it is a common enough usage even in older
Greek to use an infinitive for an imperative--see Smyth #2013. I think Ben
is right, however, about these German phrases: in them the infinitive is
really a subject and the copula ("wird," "ist") is elliptical.
>In both English and German, the rest of the sentence that contains one of
>these forms has rather weird syntax. In fact, the syntax can be weird enough
>that people who write signs often can't quite get it right.
>I wonder if the remaining syntax for a sentence which uses an absolute
>infinitive is equally unusual in Greek?
I'm not sure exactly what's being suggested by this, Jonathan; is it that
once the "normal" construction has been violated, anything goes? I don't
really think that's what you mean, but if it is, I don't think that's the
case. Again, see Smyth on infinitive for imperative in conditional
With regard to the original question about the anarthrous participles:
(1) I agree with Ben Crick that there's something epigrammatic about it;
I'm thinking of a couple expressions in Aeschylus like PAQEIN DRASANTA
("the doer must be requited"). There are similar expressions in the
proverbs at the end of Hesiod's _Works and Days_, e.g. 744-745:
MHDE POT' OINOCOHN TIQEMEN KRHTHROS hUPERQEN
PINONTWN: OLOH GAR EP AUTWi MOIRA TETUKTAI.
That's roughly: "And don't ever put a ladle upon a mixing-bowl when people
are drinking (= at a party); for a dreadful doom stands attendant upon
Here TIQEMEN is an epic form of the infinitive (classical and NT TIQENAI)
and its force here is surely imperative. PINONTWN is extraordinary here: it
could be understood as dependent upon KRHTHROS ("a mixing bowl of
drinkers"), but it strikes me as more likely absolute: "when people are
drinking" with a subject that is not expressed. I'm inclined to think that
our verse in Rom 12:15 may really be very much like this, except that there
we have a preposition META governing KLAIONTWN and CAIRONTWN. Perhaps we
could say that these are actually circumstantial participles rather than
substantives, and that the subjects are impersonal and therefore
unexpressed: "Rejoice with (people when they are) rejoicing, weep with
(them when they are) weeping."
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
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