Re: John 21.6b

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat May 02 1998 - 19:04:57 EDT

I have looked at the other responses to this, but I'd like to add a bit.

At 8:49 AM -0500 5/2/98, Chuck Tripp wrote:
>My name is chuck I live in kodiak alaska and I just just subscribed to the
>mailing list. I started teaching myself greek about 3 years ago. About 6
>months ago I commited to reading the Gospel of John in Greek. I am looking
>at John 21.6. I don't think that are any deep theological ramifications
>from my question but I am having trouble grasping the syntax of the second
>half of that verse. It goes as follows:
>According to my lexicon, hELKUSAI is an aorist infinitive for ELKW "I
>draw." It looks like the infinitive is just hanging out there. By context
>it appears to be used as a aorist indicative with the subject being they,
>(the same subject for for the verb EBALON). Also the work APO seems to be
>used to connect the reason with what they were not able to do.

I think the point missed here is that ISCUON is being used here as an
auxiliary that is equivalent in meaning to HDUNANTO--so that hELKUSAI is
simply a complementary infinitive.

>I don't recall seeing APO being used in this way. Is this a standard way
>to use APO. Am I interpreting the use of the infinitive correctly? Is
>this an appropriate use of the infinitive? Is this a koine greek thing?
>Is this passage evidence that greek was not his native tongue? Or is it a
>perfectly normal greek sentence?

I would call this use of APO in this particular construction a "fishy" one
(pun intended). Certainly the sense must be "owing to the numbers of
fish"--but I don't think we can equate APO here exactly to DIA + acc.; it
seems to me that the construction must be explained as "from the quantity"
= "as a consequence of the quantity." This construction and sense for APO +
gen. strikes me as akin to the "fishy" Latin usage of AB + ablative in such
imperial administrative titles as SECRETARIUS A FISCO, "Secretary for

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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