Re: Double Accusative after a Verb

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Apr 27 1998 - 17:12:58 EDT

At 12:41 PM -0500 4/27/98, Ward Powers wrote:
>Fellow b-greekers:
>Last night my Greek NT reading class started reading Mark 4. In previous
>weeks we had been wrestling with Hebrews. Which led to someone asking, When
>Apollos/Barnabas/Silas/Priscilla [take your pick] was writing Hebrews, why
>didn't he/she use the straight-forward Greek which Mark used? And someone
>else to ask, Did Greek speakers (including those of Classical times)
>actually SPEAK the Greek that occurs in Hebrews, with its [to us]
>convoluted constructions, or did they only WRITE like this, and speak like
>in Mark's Gospel?

My own guess is that people who WROTE the kind of Greek we read in Hebrews
probably delivered sermons in that style before an audience that would have
understood them perfectly well, but that they probably did not speak with
that sort of rhetorical flourish in ordinary conversation. Likewise I
suspect that the Greek of Mark's gospel--which really varies considerably
from one section to another (and personally I think that the most
questionable Greek in Mark is probably drawn from sources that he is citing
verbatim) is more nearly standard for that author. The most important
thing, however, in this regard (in my opinion), is that it would probably
be a big mistake to suppose that what seems contorted word-order or
difficult constructions to English speakers would necessarily have seemed
so to ancient readers who were at least as well-educated as the writers.

The curious thing about "difficult" texts is that they sound different to
those who hear them spoken or read aloud than when read silently.
Shakespeare on a printed page is a lot more difficult to follow than when
read aloud or heard as spoken from the stage.

>Then in Mark 4:2 we came across how Jesus EDIDASKEN AUTOUS EN PARABOLAIS
>POLLA, "taught them many things in parables". And a student asked, Why did
>Mark write AUTOUS not AUTOIS, which would be the expected indirect object
>of the verb, the person(s) to whom the action is directed - and which
>"felt" right, whereas AUTOUS did not? Good question, I said, and agreed
>that AUTOIS "felt" right, not AUTOUS. But on checking, DIDASKW takes the
>accusative of the person taught as well as of the thing taught.
>Now, why should DIDASKW take the accusative of the person taught?
>And, are there other verbs which similarly take a double accusative, both
>of the person and the thing which are the object of the verb's action?

Actually it is not at all uncommon to have an accusative of the person and
an accusative of the thing; I don't have a list handy of the verbs that do
it, and I can't say whether all the verbs are the same in classical Attic
and in Koine, but another very common one is ERWTAW; in classical Greek
POIEW TINA KAKA/KALA can regularly mean to treat someone badly/well. There
ought to be a list of these verbs somewhere

>PS: Last night, just before Greek Class, I farewelled Jonathan Robie from
>Sydney Airport, on his way back to the States, carrying an Australian
>weapon called a didgeridoo which is taller than he is. Fearful thing. Yes,
>he knows how to use it, too. Did it get back to North Carolina safely,
>Jonathan? Expect to hear from Jonathan again on b-greek shortly.

I am really delighted to hear this. I knew Jonathan had said he was going
to take a little vacation on Tasmania, but I thought he'd already be back
in Durham, and as I'm hoping to see him in a couple weeks, I was beginning
to be worried about not hearing from him.

>My previous invitation stands. Any member of the b-greek family coming to
>Sydney is welcome to stay over with my wife and me while passing through.
>Our guest-room is yours.

You are most gracious indeed, and I look forward to hearing from J about
your adventures and talk together.

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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