Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

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Peter Streitenberger
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Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

Post by Peter Streitenberger » November 15th, 2017, 6:11 pm

Dear friends,

in a TC discussion board the question was raised, if the following reading in the NA text is normal or sound Greek:

Acts 25:6 Διατρίψας δὲ ἐν αὐτοῖς ἡμέρας οὐ πλείους ὀκτὼ ἢ δέκα, καταβὰς εἰς Καισάρειαν, τῇ ἐπαύριον καθίσας ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος ἐκέλευσεν τὸν Παῦλον ἀχθῆναι.
The ESV has put it this way (sound English, but is it sound Greek?):
After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought.

I do think it is Un-Greek and this reading caused me to search the entire TLG, if this way of using the negation οὐ causing a strange scopus of it, is found anywhere else. I found nothing. One example how Greek does such a structure is e.g as in Demosthenes, Against Macartatus 10.7 "οἱ δὲ κατάλοιποι ἦσαν οὐ πλείους ἢ τριάκοντα" (those who remained were not more than thirty in number). All similar structures mentioned in the NT and countless more in extra biblical literature are to understand syntactically, but the topological misplacement of οὐ in the NA version of Acts 25,6 by fronting it, resulting in "ἡμέρας οὐ πλείους ὀκτὼ ἢ δέκα" (literal "days, not more eight or ten,...." sounds spurious in English as well I think) produces an unknown scopus of the negation and results in an unknown supplement structure after "days". As expected nowhere else in the whole Greek Literature, from Homer until the end of Byzanz. I was not surprised to find no parallel. After substituting the ἢ where it was supposed to could have been lacking or to be added the following version could be suggested: ἡμέρας οὐ πλείους ἢ ὀκτὼ ἢ δέκα. In a TLG run only normal "more than" structures as πλείους ἢ πεντήκοντα (Antiphon, De choreuta 22.4) could be found or normal or-connections, but not one such a combination of "more than" with an or-connection, cf. an interesting double ἢ as or-connection at Demosthenes, Contra Macartatum 43.10: καὶ αἱ ψῆφοι ὀλίγαις πάνυ ἐγένοντο πλείους, ἢ τρισὶν ἢ τέτταρσιν, ἐν τῷ Θεοπόμπου καδίσκῳ ἢ ἐν τῷ τῆς γυναικός. "And there were a very few more votes—some three or four—in the box of Theopompus than in that of the lady."

To sum up the matter: the NA reading is UnGreek, because:

The scopus of the negation οὐ is set wrong due to its false ordering and fronting. Such supplement structure after a head (here "days") noun structure does not exist.

Suggested solution:

If the reading were correct, one would expect something, as done in Alexander on Aristotle: οὐ πλείους τῶν ἕξ (not more than the six): here the article is used, would be proper in connection with a noun as "days" that is counted. Or a syntax as in a passage in Sextus: οὐ πλείους ἢ δέκα (not more than ten).

In regard to the or-connection I would suggest something as in Hippoctrates: ἀνεθερμάνθη μίην ἢ δύο ἡμέρας (it was warmed up for one or two days), placing the "days" at the end of the expression. The only possible way to rescue the correctness of the NA reading would be (at least in my thinking): οὐ πλείους ὀκτὼ ἢ δέκα ἡμέρας or οὐ πλείους ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ ἢ δέκα. That would both be sound Greek, as Luke always does, but out of other reasons, not the issue here, not a reading of having a chance to be genuine.

But the misplacement and fronting of οὐ makes it ungrammatical and false.
Agreed ?
Yours in Christ! Peter

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1025
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 15th, 2017, 10:40 pm

Well, οὐ would simply be an adverb modifying πλείους. Cf Xen. C. 2.1.5:

Κροῖσος μὲν ὁ Λυδὸς ἄγειν λέγεται μυρίους μὲν ἱππέας, πελταστὰς δὲ καὶ τοξότας πλείους ἢ τετρακισμυρίους

Xenophon. (1910). Xenophontis opera omnia, vol. 4. Medford, MA: Oxford, Clarendon Press.

How would you negate πλείους in this sentence? Notice that like Acts 25:6, the adjective follows the nouns it modifies, so the syntax is actually identical. οὐ normally precedes what it negates...

Additionally, if your analysis were plausible, one would expect to see something in the manuscripts, but no such variation is reported in NA28.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Peter Streitenberger
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Joined: June 3rd, 2011, 10:45 am

Re: Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

Post by Peter Streitenberger » November 16th, 2017, 6:28 am

Dear Barry,

I hope I dont get nervous comments writing on TC, but if it is not according to the rules here, I delete or quit doing so:
To the NA reading: P74 has a quite obvious error and singular reading here (checked the Picture of it by my own): plionas , Vaticanus has a false singular reading as well: hmeras ou pleionas, Sinaiticus has a  wrong singular reading as well: ou pleious hmeras, so NA took hmeras ou pleious oktw h deka, not trusting their own running horses. As the Alex. MS are in disagreement this shows that reconstructing an Alex. Texttype is not possible, seeing an common archtype behind is mere speculation, as one is used to it: each Alex. MS goes its own way, so the compilations produces a "test tube baby", as one has said, or an artificial text, never ever having existed.
I dont trust the TC apparatus of NA, as it is highly biased. I prefer the CNTTS, Van Soden and others. I abandoned the NA text many many years ago and read (in that order the of quality): RP, HF, Antoniades, Pickering f35. As I see only twelf MS are the basis of the NA reading: C 33 69 81 323 440 945 1175 1270ccc 1739 1891 2344, not among them the NA Papyri, or the both codices they switch, one time Aleph, another B, sometimes in agreement, mostly not (I counted an average of disagreement by a computer based analyis with the CNTTS apparatus of 1,82 discrepencies in Luke between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus).
So take all Acts MSS, minus the lacunae MS, minus the Alex. MS, minus the ones above and you get the RP reading: Διατρίψας δὲ ἐν αὐτοῖς ἡμέρας πλείους1 ἢ δέκα, καταβὰς εἰς Καισάρειαν, τῇ ἐπαύριον καθίσας ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος ἐκέλευσεν τὸν Παῦλον ἀχθῆναι.
So the majority is clear. This is the text I read. I only came across the NA, as someone came up with it, not reading it by myself.

Then:
>Κροῖσος μὲν ὁ Λυδὸς ἄγειν λέγεται μυρίους μὲν ἱππέας, πελταστὰς δὲ καὶ τοξότας πλείους ἢ τετρακισμυρίους
I cant see a negation by οὐ in that example, maybe I dont get your reasoning thats why.

>How would you negate πλείους in this sentence? Notice that like Acts 25:6, the adjective follows the nouns it >modifies, so the syntax is actually identical. οὐ normally precedes what it negates...
As suggested:
οὐ πλείους ὀκτὼ ἢ δέκα ἡμέρας OR οὐ πλείους ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ ἢ δέκα.

Yours Peter

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1025
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 16th, 2017, 8:44 am

Peter Streitenberger wrote:
November 16th, 2017, 6:28 am
Dear Barry,

I hope I dont get nervous comments writing on TC, but if it is not according to the rules here, I delete or quit doing so:
TC issues are permitted as long as they are primarily related to understanding the Greek in a particular text, as the discussion here. What is not permitted are discussions which are purely TC for the sake of TC.
To the NA reading: P74 has a quite obvious error and singular reading here (checked the Picture of it by my own): plionas , Vaticanus has a false singular reading as well: hmeras ou pleionas, Sinaiticus has a  wrong singular reading as well: ou pleious hmeras, so NA took hmeras ou pleious oktw h deka, not trusting their own running horses. As the Alex. MS are in disagreement this shows that reconstructing an Alex. Texttype is not possible, seeing an common archtype behind is mere speculation, as one is used to it: each Alex. MS goes its own way, so the compilations produces a "test tube baby", as one has said, or an artificial text, never ever having existed.
Let me point out that these are not singulars, but simply the alternate form of the accusative plural. In p74, πλίονας drops the iota by way of itacism, but is clearly the plural. The same with Vaticanus, with the more correct spelling, πλείονας. Why do you say that πλείους in Sinaiticus is singular? That also is accusative plural to agree with ἡμέρας. Note also that the Byzantine Text has πλείους, which is plural. Now, it's becoming clear to me that you are defending the Byz/TR reading, ἡμέρας πλείους ἢ δέκα, but the syntactical reasons you are advancing to do so seem spurious to me.


I dont trust the TC apparatus of NA, as it is highly biased. I prefer the CNTTS, Van Soden and others. I abandoned the NA text many many years ago and read (in that order the of quality): RP, HF, Antoniades, Pickering f35. As I see only twelf MS are the basis of the NA reading: C 33 69 81 323 440 945 1175 1270ccc 1739 1891 2344, not among them the NA Papyri, or the both codices they switch, one time Aleph, another B, sometimes in agreement, mostly not (I counted an average of disagreement by a computer based analyis with the CNTTS apparatus of 1,82 discrepencies in Luke between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus).

So take all Acts MSS, minus the lacunae MS, minus the Alex. MS, minus the ones above and you get the RP reading: Διατρίψας δὲ ἐν αὐτοῖς ἡμέρας πλείους1 ἢ δέκα, καταβὰς εἰς Καισάρειαν, τῇ ἐπαύριον καθίσας ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος ἐκέλευσεν τὸν Παῦλον ἀχθῆναι.
So the majority is clear. This is the text I read. I only came across the NA, as someone came up with it, not reading it by myself.
Alright, but your original syntactic arguments for rejecting the text are what is under discussion. The variation in the manuscripts doesn't reflect a syntactic difficulty in the NA reading of the text.

Then:
>Κροῖσος μὲν ὁ Λυδὸς ἄγειν λέγεται μυρίους μὲν ἱππέας, πελταστὰς δὲ καὶ τοξότας πλείους ἢ τετρακισμυρίους
I cant see a negation by οὐ in that example, maybe I dont get your reasoning thats why.
The text is parallel except for the presence of the negation. My question was where would you place οὐ in order to negate πλείους, a question which seemed relevant to the argument I thought you were making.
>How would you negate πλείους in this sentence? Notice that like Acts 25:6, the adjective follows the nouns it >modifies, so the syntax is actually identical. οὐ normally precedes what it negates...
As suggested:
οὐ πλείους ὀκτὼ ἢ δέκα ἡμέρας OR οὐ πλείους ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ ἢ δέκα.
So for you, it's the placement of ἡμέρας, which is in actuality completely irrelevant.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1025
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 16th, 2017, 10:34 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
November 16th, 2017, 8:44 am
Peter wrote:To the NA reading: P74 has a quite obvious error and singular reading here (checked the Picture of it by my own): plionas , Vaticanus has a false singular reading as well: hmeras ou pleionas, Sinaiticus has a  wrong singular reading as well: ou pleious hmeras, so NA took hmeras ou pleious oktw h deka, not trusting their own running horses. As the Alex. MS are in disagreement this shows that reconstructing an Alex. Texttype is not possible, seeing an common archtype behind is mere speculation, as one is used to it: each Alex. MS goes its own way, so the compilations produces a "test tube baby", as one has said, or an artificial text, never ever having existed.
Barry wrote:Let me point out that these are not singulars, but simply the alternate form of the accusative plural. In p74, πλίονας drops the iota by way of itacism, but is clearly the plural. The same with Vaticanus, with the more correct spelling, πλείονας. Why do you say that πλείους in Sinaiticus is singular? That also is accusative plural to agree with ἡμέρας. Note also that the Byzantine Text has πλείους, which is plural. Now, it's becoming clear to me that you are defending the Byz/TR reading, ἡμέρας πλείους ἢ δέκα, but the syntactical reasons you are advancing to do so seem spurious to me.
It just occurred to me that by "singular reading" you may have intended "unique reading" i.e., a reading which differs from all other manuscripts? If so, you can ignore the statements above.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Peter Streitenberger
Posts: 199
Joined: June 3rd, 2011, 10:45 am

Re: Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

Post by Peter Streitenberger » November 16th, 2017, 8:25 pm

>Now, it's becoming clear to me that you are defending the Byz/TR reading, ἡμέρας πλείους ἢ δέκα, but the >syntactical reasons you are advancing to do so seem spurious to me.

No, I didn`t mention the byz Reading or tried to defend it and I have no hidden agenda to foster a TC debate here, at least for me the issue is clear and settled long ago and if someones mind is set in this regard, I have no intention to change ones mind, at least not here in this group. The issue of the grammatical correctness of the NA reading came up somewhere else and at least I have some problems with it (or I could be wrong, as sometimes), but nothing is said on the byz text. As I dont read the NA text myself at all, I was pointed towards it by a forum debate somewhere else. We could easily leave out the TC issue here and need not discuss the byz text. I am more interested in the grammatical correctness of the reading. I found some interesting passages in literature. If you want to continue, maybe of interest: the closest *almost* counter example is "λέγονται γὰρ ὑπὲρ πεντακισχιλίους ἀποθανεῖν, ἀποκτεῖναι δὲ Ῥωμαίων οὐ πλείονας ἢ πεντακοσίους" Plutarch, Marcellus 11.8 (A try of an englisch rendering: As it is said that  more than 5000 have died, but that not more than 500 of the Romans were killed".

Barry Hofstetter
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Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 17th, 2017, 12:05 am

Peter Streitenberger wrote:
November 16th, 2017, 8:25 pm
>Now, it's becoming clear to me that you are defending the Byz/TR reading, ἡμέρας πλείους ἢ δέκα, but the >syntactical reasons you are advancing to do so seem spurious to me.

We could easily leave out the TC issue here and need not discuss the byz text. I am more interested in the grammatical correctness of the reading. I found some interesting passages in literature. If you want to continue, maybe of interest: the closest *almost* counter example is "λέγονται γὰρ ὑπὲρ πεντακισχιλίους ἀποθανεῖν, ἀποκτεῖναι δὲ Ῥωμαίων οὐ πλείονας ἢ πεντακοσίους" Plutarch, Marcellus 11.8 (A try of an englisch rendering: As it is said that  more than 5000 have died, but that not more than 500 of the Romans were killed".
Notice that ἀποκτεῖναι is active, better, "They say that more than 5,000 [of Hannibal's troops) died, but they [Hannibal's forces] killed no more than 500 [of the Romans]."

How is this "almost" a "counter example?" It seems to be quite parallel to the NA reading of the text.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Peter Streitenberger
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Joined: June 3rd, 2011, 10:45 am

Re: Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

Post by Peter Streitenberger » November 17th, 2017, 5:11 am

>Notice that ἀποκτεῖναι is active, better, "They say that more than 5,000 [of Hannibal's troops) died, but they
>[Hannibal's forces] killed no more than 500 [of the Romans]."
Thank you, yes! (I leave my faulty passive rendering printed here above as it was, and of course your are right).

And here is my reasoning why I still do not count it as counter example:
The Genitive Ῥωμαίων is not more than an forfronted attribute attached to the cardinal number 5000 and so not to compare to the NA version of Acts 25,6. Unlike it a mismatch of Gender agreement and so Ῥωμαίων not being a constituent as "days" in the NA passage, only an attribute. Then not the supposed ἢ (substituted for the "than" as missing in other parallels at least in the NT) and ἢ (the or-connection) combination, and so forth. The ἢ is used at Plutarch as the normal way to express the "than" connection, not as in Acts an or-issue and some more points, not be be an counter example).The fronting of  Ῥωμαίων is to highlight this group as contrast to the one named in the first clause, so to be explained. So to name this as closest example and having ruled out its relevance, I remain in the opinion, that NA here is Un-Greek. I could not find anything closer and there are a lot of such expressions in literature. The difference is, that NA Acts 25,6 is to explain as supplement construction (more on that below), that makes it strange in my eyes.

Compared with this and structures as in Acts 24.11 οὐ πλείους εἰσίν μοι ἡμέραι δεκαδύο:

As I said Acts 24,11 is not ungrammatical and not to compare with the NA text in Acts 25,6 as well. The difference to the NA version is that it is not a supplement construction (some additional information after the "days"-constituent told afterwords: "days - not more than 8 or 10.) as the NA version would be, and exactly that made me doubt the whole thing as such a scopus of the negation or strong focus on the right dislocated addition of the cardinal information added to "days" is not plausible. So the NA reading is standing alone.

Yours Peter

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1025
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 17th, 2017, 7:12 pm

I'll makes this my last response. Bottom line, I don't see it. For one thing, I see nothing wrong with fronting the direct object before an adjective which modifies it, and note that ἡμέρας is the direct object of διατρίψας. A negative adverb would normally precede what it modifies, and we have that in Acts 25:6. Nothing about the verse shouts out to me "abnormal Greek." Have you found anybody else who agrees with your syntactic argument or who has mentioned it before? Here is an example which has the noun fronted before the adjective:

οἱ ἄλλως ἐπιφανεῖς ὅσοι τε ἐς ἡγεμονίας ἐθνῶν ἢ στρατοπέδων ἐξῄεσαν, ὡς ἑκατὸν μέν ποτε καὶ εἴκοσι ῥάβδους ἀμφʼ αὐτὸν γενέσθαι, βουλευτὰς δὲ πλείους διακοσίων...

Appian. (1879). The Civil Wars. (L. Mendelssohn, Ed.). Medford, MA: Teubner.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Peter Streitenberger
Posts: 199
Joined: June 3rd, 2011, 10:45 am

Re: Grammatical Problems with the NA reading in Acts 25,6

Post by Peter Streitenberger » November 18th, 2017, 9:14 am

Ok, then no further discussion wanted, could have said more, but ok for me. Bye. Yours Peter

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