[b-greek] asyndeton in Matthew 28:19

From: schulc@cuaa.edu
Date: Fri Mar 08 2002 - 11:16:46 EST

Dear respected collegues,

The discussion last week of Matthew 28:19, reminded me of an outstanding
question I have about that passage. The participles occur without a
conjunction. What are the possibilities we can explore for such an asyndeton? I
found the following passages in Smyth suggestive. Might we think of “teaching”
as an intensification of “baptizing” (furthering “illumination”) or as
essential to the very definition of baptizing? Or do we have the risen Lord’s
emphatic missionary zeal stylistically expressed? Are these the possibilites
you would consider or would you select others?

"§2147. The abundance of its participles is one of the characteristic features
of Greek. Their use gives brevity to the sentence (cp. 2050), enabling the
writer to set forth in a word modifications and amplifications of the main
thought for which we require cumbersome relative clauses. But an excessive use
of participles, especially in close conjunction, marked a careless style.
f. Two or more participles may be coördinated without any connective. [p. 478]
This is common in Homer when one participle forms a contrast to, or
intensifies, another participle.

g. In prose such coördination without any connective is incomplete, one
participle, e.g., often defining another
i. A finite verb may have two or more participles attached to it in different

§2165. Two or more sentences (or words) independent in form and thought, but
juxtaposed, i.e. coördinated without any connective, are asyndetic (from
asundeton not bound together), and such absence of connectives is called
a. The absence of connectives in a language so rich in means of
coördination as is Greek is more striking than in other languages. Grammatical
asyndeton cannot always be separated from rhetorical asyndeton. Grammatical
asyndeton is the absence of a conjunction where a connective might have been
used without marked influence on the character of the thought; as especially in
explanatory sentences (often after a preparatory word, usually a demonstrative)
which take up the matter just introduced; also where, in place of a
conjunction, a resumptive word, such as houtos, toioutos, tosoutos, entautha,
houtô, etc., is employed. Rhetorical asyndeton is the absence of a conjunction
where the following sentence contains a distinct advance in the thought and not
a mere formal explanation appended to the foregoing sentence. Rhetorical
asyndeton generally expresses emotion of some sort, and is the mark of
liveliness, rapidity, passion, or impressiveness, of thought, each idea being
set forth separately and distinctly.

§2167. Asyndeton also appears when the unconnected sentence
b. Expresses a reason or explains the preceding.
a. Summarizes the main contents, or expresses the result, of the preceding."

I look forward to your responses.
Rev. Charles R. Schulz
Concordia Unversity, Ann Arbor, MI

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