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Translation of Phil. 3.16

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 6:22 am
by Peter Streitenberger
Dear Biblical-Greeks,

In Phil. 3.16 it states (RP, TR, HF etc.): "πλὴν εἰς ὃ ἐφθάσαμεν, τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν κανόνι, τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν".

In some translations the two infinitives στοιχεῖν and φρονεῖν are treated as adhortatives, usually coded by subjunctives ("let us"). E.g. the Darby Translation: "But whereto we have attained, let us walk in the same steps". But that would be the only time in the NT (Rom 12.15 is another case, not a parallel passage).

A TLG search in the Greek literature showed that φθάνω with infinitives is not used as adhortative, regarding the infinitives (cf. Homerus, Illias, 10.3688 and so forth). This combination is e.g. found at Thucydides, Historiae, 4.8,3: „Δημοσθένης δὲ προσπλεόντων ἔτι τῶν Πελοποννησίων ὑπεκπέμπει φθάσας δύο ναῦς ἀγγεῖλαι Εὐρυμέδοντι“ „But Demosthenes sent, the peloponnensic fleed still under its way, two ships, to inform Eurymedon in advance". Liddell-Scott renders some other examples, that do not show such a combination in the sense of an Adhortativ, rather with a final meaning: "φθαίης ἔτ᾽ εἰς ἐκκλησίαν ἐλθεῖν (v. l. ἐλθών) hurry to be in time to get to. ., Ar.Eq.935 (lyr.)". In some rare cases infinitives could be used as imperatives, but as H. v. Siebenthal states in his Grammar (now in English as well) in rare cases under certain contexts. He puts this passage in this category, but I am not convinced. Εἰς ὃ seems to direct as corelate towards the following clause as in 2Thessalonicher 1.11.

Now the question: Is the following rendering possible: "However we have attained to it, to walk by the same rule, to mind the same thing". Please overlook some possible errors, me not being an English native speaker.

Thanks for all input! Peter

Re: Translation of Phil. 3.16

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 10:33 am
by Barry Hofstetter
First of all notice that there are text critical issues with the verse, the second infinitive clause omitted in the critical texts. That doesn't affect your question, but it's still nice to know. Secondly, this is simply the infinitive used for the imperative, more frequent in poetry, but not unknown in prose. Smyth:
2013. Infinitive in Commands.—The infinitive may be used for the second person of the imperative. The person addressed is regarded as the subject. This infinitive is commoner in poetry than in prose (where it has a solemn or formal force).

Re: Translation of Phil. 3.16

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 11:36 am
by nathaniel j. erickson
Regarding the imperitival infinitive, I would also note that Mandilaras, The Verb in the Greek Non-Literary Papyri, has the following to say:
In papyri (less so in the N.T.) the imperitival infinitive is well attested. It occurs frequently in official documents, edicts, and regulations, and is also frequent in private letters (sec. 757).
Granted that this use is rare in the New Testament (though exactly how rare is debated), it is not uncommon in Koine Greek. Since it is an attested construction in Greek of the period and fits the context here, I agree with Barry that the infinitive is simply imperitval here.
Εἰς ὃ seems to direct as corelate towards the following clause as in 2Thessalonicher 1.11.
It is possible that Εἰς ὃ points forward. However, that is unlikely. More likely is that it points backward. I would actually argue the same for 2Thessalonians 1.11. I'm curious how you understand that passage and why you see εἰς ὄ as forward pointing there?
In the first clause of Phil. 3.16, πλὴν εἰς ὃ ἐφθάσαμεν, the force is something like: "However, we have already arrived at this" where "this" is referring to the points discussed already in the paragraph. The first clause serves to introduce the summation of this section of the argument.
Is the following rendering possible: "However we have attained to it, to walk by the same rule, to mind the same thing".
I suppose this rendering is possible. I would tend to expect the infinitives to be articular if the meaning you propose was the intended meaning. Regardless, it would take some convincing arguments that this is the understanding intended rather than an imperitival sense, which makes good sense in the immediate context. Do you know of any translations that follow your proposed reading of the passage (in any language)? I checked a couple German translations as well as one Modern Greek translation that actually follows the Greek reading your are asking about (though my Modern Greek is not very good, so I don't put a lot of weight on my understanding of that text), and they all seem to take the infinitives as imperitval of some sort.

Re: Translation of Phil. 3.16

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 12:44 pm
by Stirling Bartholomew
Peter, looking through a dozen commonly used English versions it is fairly standard to translate this passage as a first person plural imperative; “Let us ...” — is this functioning as a hortatory-subjunctive? http://dcc.dickinson.edu/grammar/latin/ ... ubjunctive. Lest we get bogged down quibbling about metalanguage, it appears to be of little consequence whether or not hortatory is utilized in that description of a first person plural imperative. The English translations tell the tale.

Obviously, the so-called imperatival infinitives in Greek, lacking inflection for person and number do not signify in a formal manner anything equivalent to a first person plural imperative. The discussion of so called imperatival infinitives, in the grammars I have on hand, ranges from minimalist to nonexistent. Apparently Wallace mentions it, which will not come as a surprise to no one familiar with GGBB. Here is an article that at least mentions the usage in Phillipians and James.

https://grksociety.com/2015/10/14/greek ... and-james/

Perhaps one might say this is simply an infinitive, every thing else is semantics. Not simply an imperative infinitive which is something like an albino panther.

Re: Translation of Phil. 3.16

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 6:45 pm
by Barry Hofstetter
389. The imperatival infinitive is extremely old and is especially common in Homer, while in Attic it has become less frequent (Schwyzer II 380; subject in nom.). It is limited in the NT to two passages in Paul, both without subject; when the subject is to be expressed, even Paul uses ἵνα: E 5:33 (§387(3)).

R 12:15 χαίρειν μετὰ χαιρόντων, κλαίειν μετὰ κλαιόντων, Ph 3:16 πλὴν εἰς ὃ ἐφθάσαμεν, τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν; but cf. also Lk 9:3 μηδὲν αἴρετε … μήτε ἀνὰ δύο χιτῶνας ἔχειν. A governing verb (of saying, or χρή, δεῖ) can readily be supplied everywhere in the NT passages (which was not the case with the old imperatival inf.); cf. the accusatives with inf. in T 2:2–10 with a single occurrence of παρακάλει in v. 6. The salutatory inf. χαίρειν in epistolary style (A 15:23, 23:26, Ja 1:1 [§480(5)]) is likewise clearly elliptical. The independent inf. (with any modifiers belonging to the subj. in the acc.) or acc. with inf. in legal phraseology (λέγειν ‘one must say’ = λεκτέον, κεῖνον ἀπόλλυσθαι ‘he must die’) is also the result of a subsequent detachment of a governing δοκεῖ etc.; cf. Schwyzer II 383; Bonitz, Index Aristotelicus s.v. Infinitiv. The better reading in 2 T 2:14 is μὴ λογομάχει AC* latt (pm. -χεῖν, conceived as dependent upon διαμαρτυρόμενος). Is IEph 11.1 μόνον ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ εὑρεθῆναι imperatival or a loose addition (§391(4)) to ἢ … φοβηθῶμεν ἢ … ἀγαπήσωμεν? Imperatival inf. in the pap. Mayser II 1, 150f., 303–5 (primarily in official orders and the like). Interchange of impera. and inf. (Lk 9:3) e.g. PEleph 1.4 (311 BC) παρεχέτω Ἡρακλείδης πάντα, εἶναι δὲ ἡμᾶς ….—Rob. 1092f.; Moule 126f.
Blass, F., Debrunner, A., & Funk, R. W. (1961). A Greek grammar of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (pp. 196–197). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Re: Translation of Phil. 3.16

Posted: May 17th, 2020, 7:39 am
by Peter Streitenberger
Thanks for the interesting answers, you all!
To address some concerns: I only know of one translator committee of only one German translation currently debating this verse and if it should be changed, as I heard they are very open to it (Prof. Jantzen/Jettel). I wanted to spot them on this debate, maybe of interest for them. Otherwise no other translation has had such an idea, but better than an argumentum ad populum are reasons, and thank you for having provided such!

I did another TLG search and found some passages, eg. in Aristoteles, de plantibus, 2.828b, 22: „τότε τὸ ξύλον φθάνει γίνεσθαι μέλαν“. „Then the wood begins, to get black". That means the Verb φθάνω gets an extension (as we Germans say) by the infinitive. Same case could be in Phil. 3,16. It is according to Ockham`s Razor without much implications that has to be fulfilled. The LXX shows a similar passage in 1Kings 12.18: „καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ροβοαμ ἔφθασεν ἀναβῆναι τοῦ φυγεῖν εἰς Ιερουσαλημ“. „But KIng Rehabeam succeeded, to mount the chariot and to flee to Jerusalem". All passages with the combination of φθάνω with Inf. is in according with the entry in Liddel-Scott and does nowhere show an Adhortativ, rather the normal usage of infinitives.

Why should the infinitive be articular, to meet the requirements for an alternative view - maybe I did not grasp the argument.

The solutions so far are plausible, but I think with a bit more implications, and the normal way of treating infinitives grants a sentence that is to understood in context and I would put Phil 3.16 in the same syntactical and semantical category as these other instances, no need to open another new and fancy one. I am still open for some ideas, but 1 hour in the TLG showed only hits that prooved this normal usage of an infinitive not something spectacular as an Adhortative. Very very good is the new feature in the TLG to do morphological searches, I one is able to search for all instances of φθάνω in combination with an surrounding infinitive, which brought no hit for an adhortative.

Re: Translation of Phil. 3.16

Posted: May 17th, 2020, 12:13 pm
by Barry Hofstetter
Peter Streitenberger wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 7:39 am

The solutions so far are plausible, but I think with a bit more implications, and the normal way of treating infinitives grants a sentence that is to understood in context and I would put Phil 3.16 in the same syntactical and semantical category as these other instances, no need to open another new and fancy one. I am still open for some ideas, but 1 hour in the TLG showed only hits that prooved this normal usage of an infinitive not something spectacular as an Adhortative. Very very good is the new feature in the TLG to do morphological searches, I one is able to search for all instances of φθάνω in combination with an surrounding infinitive, which brought no hit for an adhortative.
I'm not sure that you understand the syntax of the passage. The infinitive is not dependent on φθάνω, nor does φθάνω condition it contextually in the way that you seem to think. The use of the infinitive here is independent, and is pretty much why everyone reads it as imperatival.

Re: Translation of Phil. 3.16

Posted: May 17th, 2020, 12:31 pm
by Peter Streitenberger
We disagree, Barry, as a normal function of the infinitive among others is an adverbial, in this suggestion with a final or another debatable force, and as such, very clearly depending on a verb. BRD § 390, Zerwick § 392, BR § 237, Duhoux § 228. Siebenthal (German edition § 220). Examples for verbs as coming or arriving as governing predicate ruling an infinitive please see Luke 9,28, Luke 3.12 and many others. At least in the suggested rendering, the other renderings as adhortativ, there your doubts are to understand, but that was not what we were talking about. Treated as adhortatives as DBR suggest and following this idea almost all versions, they are indeed Independent from the main verb. But this was not at stake.

Re: Translation of Phil. 3.16

Posted: May 17th, 2020, 2:12 pm
by Barry Hofstetter
Peter Streitenberger wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 12:31 pm
We disagree, Barry, as a normal function of the infinitive among others is an adverbial, in this suggestion with a final or another debatable force, and as such, very clearly depending on a verb. BRD § 390, Zerwick § 392, BR § 237, Duhoux § 228. Siebenthal (German edition § 220). Examples for verbs as coming or arriving as governing predicate ruling an infinitive please see Luke 9,28, Luke 3.12 and many others. At least in the suggested rendering, the other renderings as adhortativ, there your doubts are to understand, but that was not what we were talking about. Treated as adhortatives as DBR suggest and following this idea almost all versions, they are indeed Independent from the main verb. But this was not at stake.
I'm sorry, Peter, but you are mixing up categories which don't apply. As far as I know, φθάνω is never used with an infinitive in the way you seem to think, although it is used with a supplemental participle (see LSJ particularly). But if you don't trust the grammars, lexicons and the reading of practically everyone since ancient times (cf. Jerome verumtamen ad quod pervenimus ut idem sapiamus et in eadem permaneamus regula), then I don't know what else to say.

Re: Translation of Phil. 3.16

Posted: May 17th, 2020, 8:52 pm
by nathaniel j. erickson
Peter, I see a couple issues in your line of thinking that need to be addressed.
1. your example Greek sentences are different syntactically from Phil. 3.16.
It is important to notice that, syntactically, the examples you have pulled from TLG are all different from the syntax we have in Phil. 3.16.
Aristoteles, de plantibus, 2.828b, 22: „τότε τὸ ξύλον φθάνει γίνεσθαι μέλαν“.
1Kings 12.18: „καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ροβοαμ ἔφθασεν ἀναβῆναι τοῦ φυγεῖν εἰς Ιερουσαλημ“.
Phil 3.16 πλὴν εἰς ὃ ἐφθάσαμεν, τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν κανόνι, τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν

For the first two your explanation of "the Verb φθάνω gets an extension (as we Germans say) by the infinitive" makes sense. It is almost a periphrastic expression where the metaphor "arrive at a point" is combined with the verbal notion of an infinitive to get a meaning something like "began to." This works for these passages because the infinitive is clearly both in the same clause and in a sort of "idiomatic" relationship with the main verb (or it is giving the main verb "an extension"). However, with the example from Phil. we have a "point of arrival" specified by εις ο which completes the predication of the verb φθἀνω: "We arrived to this place" (with the notion of place obviously being metaphorical). The syntactic slot which the infinitives fill in relation to φθἀνω in the first two examples does not seem to be available in the Phil. passage. They seem to be forced to be understood in relation to εἰς ὄ rather than φθἀνω, and thus constitute either a subordinate clause or an independent clause. Which, of course, is how seemingly everyone understands it and renders it with an imperative. To get around this you would seem to have to come up with a novel explanation for the otherwise normal function of εἰς ὄ. This point is intimately related with the following point.

2. Your proposed English translation represents a different understanding of the Greek syntax than what you seem to be arguing for.
Your proposed translation:
"However we have attained to it, to walk by the same rule, to mind the same thing".

This translation assumes that εἰς ὄ "to it" is the point at which "we have arrived", completing that predication. The following two infinitive phrases--"to walk by the same rule, to mind the same thing"--are not adverbial extensions of "we have arrived", but explanations of "it". In other words, in this translation your infinitive phrases are basically noun phrases, not adverbial. If you want to understand them as "adverbial" in the sense that the passage from Aristotle or LXX you quote are, I really have no idea how you would render than into English. It certainly would not be the translation you have proposed. Remember, the Greek passages you quote are essentially using an "idiomatic" expression with the meaning of something like "begin to." If we could ignore the presence of εἰς ὄ then a rendering something like "However, we have begun walking by the same rule, minding the same thing" perhaps get at representing the understanding of the Greek syntax you seem to be arguing for. However, we can't just ignore εἰς ὄ.

I don't really see anything gained by trying to understand the syntax as you are analyzing it.