Re: Word order, James 1:5 this time

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Apr 05 1998 - 08:16:52 EDT

At 4:08 PM -0500 4/5/98, Paul Zellmer wrote:
>>Paul Zellmer wrote:
>>>In James 1:5b, I run into another case of convoluted word order, if
>>>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?
>Carl responded:
>>In this instance, Paul, I think you are looking for a differentiation
>>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
>>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
>>uses the first or the second strategy to convey the attributive
>>phrase into English, the phrase PASIN hAPLWS must construe as a
>>to the participle DIDONTOS.
>Must the phrase be the complement because other options make no logical
>sense, or is there another clue here? I don't disagree with you. I'm
>just not comfortable with the splitting of the complement from the

I guess you put it the right way: PASIN hAPLOIS makes sense only as a
complement to a verb; DIDONTOS is both the closest verb and a verb that
more naturally than anything else does in fact take a dative complement. I
will agree that the splitting of the complement from the participle is a
little bit strange--it looks like an afterthought that was added for
special emphasis. I suspect that one who speaks an inflected language with
more built-in flexibility of word-order may feel a bit freer to do this
than one who speaks English with its more rigid word-order. I still
remember vividly my first encounter with the Homeric "strung style" (LEXIS
EIROMENH) in the proem of the Iliad:


where OULOMENHN can only be understood with MHNIN, which stands at the
beginning of line 1, so that the effect is: "The wrath sing, Goddess, of
Peleus' son Achilles, baneful (wrath, that is) ..."

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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