Re: Word order, James 1:5 this time

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Apr 04 1998 - 07:18:49 EST

At 7:43 PM -0600 4/4/98, Paul Zellmer wrote:
>In James 1:5b, I run into another case of convoluted word order, if one
>trusts the English translations. The clause reads AITEITW PARA TOU
>DIDONTOS QEOU PASIN hAPLWS. The translations seem to either treat
>PASIN hAPLWS as if it preceded QEOU, or DIDONTOS as if it followed
>QEOU. The one exception seems to be the Amplified, which states
>(supplies?) the DIDONTOS both before and after QEOU.
>Is the one lacking wisdom commanded to ask of the giver, who is God?
>Or is he supposed to ask of God, who gives? Or is it the giving God?
>In any case, how does "to all liberally" fit?

In this instance, Paul, I think you are looking for a differentiation of
meaning between these alternative formulations that isn't--the
differentiation, that is--and hereby I am mimicing, I believe, the
word-order of the construction--there. DIDONTOS is here an attributive
participle: the participle is between the article and the noun governed by
the article; the two standard ways of conveying an attributive participle
into English are (a) a relative clause ("the God who gives") and (b) an
agent noun which in this instance must function as an appositive to the
noun governed by the article ("God, the giver"). But no matter whether one
uses the first or the second strategy to convey the attributive participial
phrase into English, the phrase PASIN hAPLWS must construe as a complement
to the participle DIDONTOS.

So, not to "beat the bush" (as my Spanish-speaking friend who means thereby
"beat about the bush"), your question above, Paul, makes a false
distinction between the alternatives, each of which is right: (1) one is to
ask of the giver, who is God (the giver to all without distinction); (2)
one is to ask of God, who gives (to all without distinction); (3) one is to
ask of the giving (to all without distinction) God. # 3 here reflects most
"literally" the Greek, but in a format that is unidiomatic English. I would
add finally that "without distinction" or "without differentiation" is more
precisely what hAPLWS means, while "liberally" is an interpretative

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 OR

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