Acts 20:20 meaningless negative "mh anaggeilai"

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davidwalucy@yahoo.com
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Acts 20:20 meaningless negative "mh anaggeilai"

Post by davidwalucy@yahoo.com » February 12th, 2016, 2:26 am

Greetings,

I am wondering why the negative particle mh is the in the phrase

... tou mh anaggeilai ... It seems to say that he did not declare (anaggellw)

in acts 20:20.

Thanks,
David
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cwconrad
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Re: Acts 20:20 meaningless negative "mh anaggeilai"

Post by cwconrad » February 12th, 2016, 11:05 am

davidwalucy@yahoo.com wrote:Greetings,

I am wondering why the negative particle mh is the in the phrase

... tou mh anaggeilai ... It seems to say that he did not declare (anaggellw)

in acts 20:20.

Thanks,
David
It helps to have the whole text in view when discussing a question of this sort; in addition, it's easy enough to type or at least paste in the Greek text in Unicode so that we don't have to deal with various patterns of transliteration.
Acts 20:20 wrote: ὡς οὐδὲν ὑπεστειλάμην τῶν συμφερόντων τοῦ μὴ ἀναγγεῖλαι ὑμῖν καὶ διδάξαι ὑμᾶς δημοσίᾳ καὶ κατ᾿ οἴκους,
First of all, the τοῦ μὴ governs both ἀναγγεῖλαι and διδάξαι. There's a rhetorical double-negative (sometimes called "Litotes") here employed to emphasize that the speaker made his point crystal clear: "I omitted not one of the advantageous aspects so as to avoid (i.e. in order not to be) setting forth my message and explaining (them) to you in public as well as privately." That is to say, "I did not try not to announce = "I certainly did announce ... "
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

davidwalucy@yahoo.com
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Re: Acts 20:20 meaningless negative "mh anaggeilai"

Post by davidwalucy@yahoo.com » February 13th, 2016, 12:42 pm

Greetings cwconrad et al,

Thank You. If I understand correctly, I believe you are saying a more literal translation is:

"I omitted not one of the advantageous aspects so as to avoid (i.e. in order not to be) setting forth my message and explaining (them) to you in public as well as privately."

This makes sense to me.

My final question: I looked at approximately 10 different English translations of Acts 20:20, and they all seem to drop the "in order not to be / so as to avoid" sense, as if ignoring the particle μὴ, which was the origin of my confusion. Why do you suppose that is? Is it because the translators worry that the English reader would be misled by a more literal rendering, for example? I have already read the NT from Matthew to Acts 20:20 and this is the fist instance of a consistent "non-literal" translation I have seen from virtually all English translations.

Regards,
David
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Re: Acts 20:20 meaningless negative "mh anaggeilai"

Post by davidwalucy@yahoo.com » December 31st, 2016, 11:07 pm

Greetings,

I came upon another explanation of the use of μὴ in Acts 20:20. This explanation appears on page 1094 in Robertson’s A Grammar of the New Testament:
With verbs of hindering and denying the negative μὴ is not necessary, but it was often used by the ancients as a redundant negative repeating the negative notion of the verb, just as double negatives carried on the force of the first negative. It was not always used. When the verb itself was negatived, then μὴ ου could follow. But we do not find this idiom in the N. T.
Finally, some (Such as Robinson) interpret the genitive infinitive phase (του μη αναγγειλαι) as being an ablative rather than an infinitive of purpose.

Regards,
David Rotolo
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Robert Crowe
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Re: Acts 20:20 meaningless negative "mh anaggeilai"

Post by Robert Crowe » January 2nd, 2017, 9:57 am

An interesting construction. μή emphasises the negative in the controlling verb. Greek negatives don't undo one another as in English where we sometimes find such gibberish as 'I can't hardly fail to disagree with you less.'

It seems Robertson is taking τοῦ μὴ ἀναγγεῖλαι to be the object of the main verb.
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Re: Acts 20:20 meaningless negative "mh anaggeilai"

Post by davidwalucy@yahoo.com » February 16th, 2017, 2:30 am

Greetings Robert Crowe et al,
In Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, he actually does explicitly take the position that τοῦ μὴ ἀναγγεῖλαι is an ablative phrase, and he even translates it as “… from declaring unto you… ,” consistent with the semantics of an ablative.

I quote Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament referring to the above:
From declaring unto you (του μη αναγγειλαι υμιν — tou mē anaggeilai humin). Ablative case of the articular first aorist active infinitive of αναγγελλω — anaggellō with the redundant negative after verbs of hindering, etc. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1094).
Regards,
David Rotolo
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Robert Crowe
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Re: Acts 20:20 meaningless negative "mh anaggeilai"

Post by Robert Crowe » February 16th, 2017, 7:35 pm

davidwalucy@yahoo.com wrote:In Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, he actually does explicitly take the position that τοῦ μὴ ἀναγγεῖλαι is an ablative phrase, and he even translates it as “… from declaring unto you… ,” consistent with the semantics of an ablative.

I quote Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament referring to the above:

From declaring unto you (του μη αναγγειλαι υμιν — tou mē anaggeilai humin). Ablative case of the articular first aorist active infinitive of αναγγελλω — anaggellō with the redundant negative after verbs of hindering, etc. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1094).
While not disagreeing with Robertson, an alternative analysis is possible by taking τῶν συμφερόντων as the ablative object of ὑπεστειλάμην followed by τοῦ ἀναγγείλαι in it's usual 'for the purpose of' meaning. "in no way did I shy away from things worthwhile in order to proclaim to you and teach you"

Robertson's analysis requires taking τῶν συμφερόντων as an objective genitive. "in no way did I shy away from proclaiming to you and teaching you things worthwhile"

While both these analyses are grammatically feasible, I think Robertson's makes better sense. (It's never a good idea to bet against Einstein.)
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Re: Acts 20:20 meaningless negative "mh anaggeilai"

Post by Robert Crowe » February 17th, 2017, 1:52 am

Robert Crowe wrote:an alternative analysis is possible by taking τῶν συμφερόντων as the ablative object of ὑπεστειλάμην
Sorry, should have said ablative complement.
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Re: Acts 20:20 meaningless negative "mh anaggeilai"

Post by davidwalucy@yahoo.com » August 25th, 2018, 7:22 pm

Thank you Robert Crowe. I appreciate your insight to your alternate analysis.

Best Regards,
David Rotolo
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