Participle in Matt. 27:55

nathaniel j. erickson
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Participle in Matt. 27:55

Post by nathaniel j. erickson »

Matt. 27:55 Ἦσαν δὲ ἐκεῖ γυναῖκες πολλαὶ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν θεωροῦσαι, αἵτινες ἠκολούθησαν τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας διακονοῦσαι αὐτῷ·
Reading one scholar's comment on this text, they say the participle θεωροῦσαι is adjectival and give no further comment. In the larger context of the work, "adjectival" should be understood as referring to the "attributive adjective" function of the participle (as opposed to "predicate adjectival", aka conjunct/adverbial). I was struck by this interpretation because, while admittedly possible, it is far from a certain case.

I understand the passage as follows:
1. ἦσαν is thetic (aka presentational), introducing new people into the scene: "there were many women there"
2. ἀπὸ μακρόθεν goes with the participle, as opposed to the thetic ἦσαν (though I would not argue strenuously if anyone wanted to take it as part of the thetic, giving something like "they were there a long ways off", though that would be a rather locative-heavy thetic, and thetics generally don't like locatives).
3. The participle is not (attributive) adjectival, but conjunct/adverbial/predicate adjectival. It is making a predication describing what the women were doing: "watching from afar"

Others argue this is periphrastic.

What stood out to me the most is that said scholar takes the exact same understanding of the breakdown of the phrases as I do only concludes that the participle is adjectival. It is further confusing in that they point to the NRSV as an example of this "adjectival" understanding. The NRSV reads "Many women were also there, looking on from a distance". Now, arguing from translation about the Greek grammar is neither good practice nor the point of this forum (or this post), but if someone were going to try to translate this passage as an "adverbial"/conjunct/predicate adjective participle, that is exactly how they would do it! To explicitly represent the participle as attributive adjectival would generally be done by turning it into a relative clause: "many women...who were watching..." Within the context of said scholar's argument, taking this clause as a predicate rather than attributive participle goes against the grain of what they are arguing, making the easy dismissal of this reading more attention worthy.

I guess I am not really asking any specific question about the passage, more just thinking in public on this forum about this text. The delineation between predicate and attributive adjectives, in the absence of an article, is often quite dicey. Now that I have sufficiently thought myself through, I shall merely say, anyone else have any thoughts?
Nathaniel J. Erickson
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Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Participle in Matt. 27:55

Post by Stirling Bartholomew »

2. ἀπὸ μακρόθεν goes with the participle, as opposed to the thetic ἦσαν (though I would not argue strenuously if anyone wanted to take it as part of the thetic, giving something like "they were there a long ways off", though that would be a rather locative-heavy thetic, and thetics generally don't like locatives).
Are you letting your metalanguage get in the way? Expressions like "locative-heavy thetic" suggest that you are constructing new metalanguage from existing metalanguage. What in the text under consideration do you not understand?
C. Stirling Bartholomew
Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Participle in Matt. 27:55

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

I agree with Stirling about the meta-language. I don't think you are inventing it, but it's a bit much for us old guys who cut our teeth on traditional grammars. However I would say that the placement of ἐκεῖ so close to your thetic ἦσαν precludes the periphrastic understanding, and that narrows it down to a predicate adjective (not attributive). I'm not even sure how an attributive reading would make sense here.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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nathaniel j. erickson
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Re: Participle in Matt. 27:55

Post by nathaniel j. erickson »

Are you letting your metalanguage get in the way?
I agree with Stirling about the meta-language.
Sorry on the metalanguage puke. Perhaps the occupational hazard of writing a dissertation which touches in many ways on passages like this. Should have cleaned it up after I wrote it. I'm currently swimming in 4 or 5 other peoples' metalanguage and trying to carve out my own in the process. On top of that, there are the ways things are discussed in traditional grammars. I often find it difficult to avoid using the newer metalanguage because that is what is immediately in my mind and I often have to go look up what traditional grammars would call such issues, if they deal with them.
What in the text under consideration do you not understand?
There actually isn't anything in the text I don't understand. What I found odd was a scholar calling this an attributive adjectival participle and ignoring the obvious way of reading it as a predicate participle, which I think it is (thanks Barry for supporting that as well). I wanted to think through this example used by said scholar in their argument. Since I am claiming that the respected scholar I'm interacting with is wrong, it pays to think through the details and see if I am missing something I shouldn't be.
Nathaniel J. Erickson
NT PhD candidate, ABD
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
ntgreeketal.com
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Jason Hare
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Re: Participle in Matt. 27:55

Post by Jason Hare »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: April 29th, 2021, 2:02 pm I agree with Stirling about the meta-language. I don't think you are inventing it, but it's a bit much for us old guys who cut our teeth on traditional grammars. However I would say that the placement of ἐκεῖ so close to your thetic ἦσαν precludes the periphrastic understanding, and that narrows it down to a predicate adjective (not attributive). I'm not even sure how an attributive reading would make sense here.
Why couldn't it simply be circumstantial? "Many women were there looking on from afar." They were there eating (circumstantial). They were there listening to music (circumstantial). They were there looking (circumstantial). That's certainly how I'd read it. I just answers the question of what they were doing there.
Jason A. Hare
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Participle in Matt. 27:55

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Jason Hare wrote: April 29th, 2021, 4:04 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote: April 29th, 2021, 2:02 pm I agree with Stirling about the meta-language. I don't think you are inventing it, but it's a bit much for us old guys who cut our teeth on traditional grammars. However I would say that the placement of ἐκεῖ so close to your thetic ἦσαν precludes the periphrastic understanding, and that narrows it down to a predicate adjective (not attributive). I'm not even sure how an attributive reading would make sense here.
Why couldn't it simply be circumstantial? "Many women were there looking on from afar." They were there eating (circumstantial). They were there listening to music (circumstantial). They were there looking (circumstantial). That's certainly how I'd read it. I just answers the question of what they were doing there.
Well, sure. Circumstantial is just a sub-category of a predicate (or adverbial) participle.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
Daniel Semler
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Re: Participle in Matt. 27:55

Post by Daniel Semler »

nathaniel j. erickson wrote: April 29th, 2021, 12:24 pm
Matt. 27:55 Ἦσαν δὲ ἐκεῖ γυναῖκες πολλαὶ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν θεωροῦσαι, αἵτινες ἠκολούθησαν τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας διακονοῦσαι αὐτῷ·
Reading one scholar's comment on this text, they say the participle θεωροῦσαι is adjectival and give no further comment. In the larger context of the work, "adjectival" should be understood as referring to the "attributive adjective" function of the participle (as opposed to "predicate adjectival", aka conjunct/adverbial). I was struck by this interpretation because, while admittedly possible, it is far from a certain case.
Could he simply have meant that it provides further description of the women, that is, it is just generally adjectival ?

thx
D
Jonathan Robie
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Re: Participle in Matt. 27:55

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: April 29th, 2021, 4:20 pm
Jason Hare wrote: April 29th, 2021, 4:04 pm Why couldn't it simply be circumstantial? "Many women were there looking on from afar." They were there eating (circumstantial). They were there listening to music (circumstantial). They were there looking (circumstantial). That's certainly how I'd read it. I just answers the question of what they were doing there.
Well, sure. Circumstantial is just a sub-category of a predicate (or adverbial) participle.
That's how I read it too. But it's interesting how people who read the passage the same way struggle to agree on meta-language to describe that agreement. And common. Describing how we understand it in English too can often help us past the meta-language and see if we understand it the same way or not.
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Re: Participle in Matt. 27:55

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Daniel Semler wrote: April 29th, 2021, 9:10 pm Could he simply have meant that it provides further description of the women, that is, it is just generally adjectival ?
I am reading it this way:

vc Ἦσαν δὲ
p ἐκεῖ
s γυναῖκες πολλαὶ
adv ἀπὸ μακρόθεν
v.part θεωροῦσαι


In this interpretation, ἀπὸ μακρόθεν is most closely associated with θεωροῦσαι, they are observing from afar.

Are you suggesting it should be read this way?

vc Ἦσαν δὲ
p ἐκεῖ
s γυναῖκες πολλαὶ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν
v.part θεωροῦσαι

In this interpretation, the women are many, and they are from far away, and they are observing. I'm not sure - is ἀπὸ μακρόθεν used in this way elsewhere? BDAG identifies it as an adverb, θεωροῦσαι looks like the best candidate verb. The same sentence tells us where these women are from:

αἵτινες ἠκολούθησαν τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας

So far, I think the first interpretation is correct.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Daniel Semler
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Re: Participle in Matt. 27:55

Post by Daniel Semler »

Jonathan Robie wrote: April 30th, 2021, 8:36 am
Daniel Semler wrote: April 29th, 2021, 9:10 pm Could he simply have meant that it provides further description of the women, that is, it is just generally adjectival ?
I am reading it this way:

vc Ἦσαν δὲ
p ἐκεῖ
s γυναῖκες πολλαὶ
adv ἀπὸ μακρόθεν
v.part θεωροῦσαι


In this interpretation, ἀπὸ μακρόθεν is most closely associated with θεωροῦσαι, they are observing from afar.

Are you suggesting it should be read this way?

vc Ἦσαν δὲ
p ἐκεῖ
s γυναῖκες πολλαὶ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν
v.part θεωροῦσαι

In this interpretation, the women are many, and they are from far away, and they are observing. I'm not sure - is ἀπὸ μακρόθεν used in this way elsewhere? BDAG identifies it as an adverb, θεωροῦσαι looks like the best candidate verb. The same sentence tells us where these women are from:

αἵτινες ἠκολούθησαν τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας

So far, I think the first interpretation is correct.
I wasn't trying to make that distinction, and it didn't occur to me reading this. Rather the distinction between women watching from far off, and some unnamed others who might be described in some other way. I read the surrounding section of Matt 27 and there doesn't appear to be in the immediate area mention of any other group so if it is to be considered this way it's not for the purpose of distinguishing them from another group. I am, of course, speculating on what a scholar I haven't read - or at least likely haven't read - might mean in what appears to be a somewhat casual or throwaway remark.

Thx
D
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