Stephen Hughes wrote:
Acts 12:1 wrote:Κατ’ ἐκεῖνον δὲ τὸν καιρὸν ἐπέβαλεν Ἡρῴδης ὁ βασιλεὺς τὰς χεῖρας κακῶσαί τινας τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς ἐκκλησίας.
My third question about Acts 12:1-2 is about the phrase ἐπιαλεῖν τὰς χεῖρας. Is it a common Greek expression to use it with the infinitive? Has it been extended to fit the idiom of another language? If that is so, is it over-used in the NT where συλλαμβάνειν might have been expected?
Reading this question triggered in my mind a recall of the Homeric formula that I found fascinating half a century ago:
βῆ δ’ ἰέναι
"He strode to go" or "He planted his foot forward to go" or "he made to go", i.e. he performed an action with an intention that the infinitive expresses. It's said that the Greek infinitive is in origin a dative-case form; English commonly prefixes "to" as German prefixes the preposition "zu" and French "à" (sometimes, at least) to an infinitive; indication of intent
is surely one of the primary functions of the infinitive.
I chose at once to do check the grammar at once, a step that Stephen has confessed to be his last-resort measure. Here's what I found that seems to have some bearing on the question:
Infinitive usage in Smyth: §§1989-2000
Smyth wrote:§1989 Infinitive not in indirect discourse
§1994. Under verbs of will or desire are included verbs expressing an activity to the end that something shall or shall not be done. Thus, δίδωμι offer, give, διαμάχομαι struggle against, ποιῶ, διαπρᾱ́ττομαι, κατεργάζομαι manage, effect, παρέχω offer (others in 1992, 1993).
BDF wrote:§390. The infinitive of purpose likewise dates very far back and it certainly has a much wider range of usage in Homer than in Attic authors, who use it mostly after verbs meaning ‘to give, appoint, present, send’, etc. (1) In the NT it has become common again in a wide sphere (probably under Ionic influence) with a variety of verbs of motion (cf. LXX, Thack. 24; Huber 80), and is the equivalent of a final clause: Mt 5:17 οὐκ ἦλθον καταλῦσαι, ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι. (2) Also, of course, with διδόναι, ἀποστέλλειν, etc. as in Attic: Mk 3:14 ἀποστέλλῃ κηρύσσειν. (3) Ἵνα can again represent this infinitive (also final ὥστε: Lk 9:52 εἰσῆλθον ὥστε ἑτοιμάσαι, 4:29, s. §391(3)); an analytical construction with ἵνα is the natural one, especially when the subordinate clause is loosely connected or is of considerable extent, while the especially close connection of the infinitive to the main verb in certain fixed idioms does not permit the replacement of the infinitive. (4) As to the differences among NT authors, what has been outlined in §388 applies here also...
I don't really think that the infinitive usage with ἐπιβάλλειν τὰς χεῖρας is at all unusual.