Accusative Case in John4: 24

Girgis Boshra
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Accusative Case in John4: 24

Post by Girgis Boshra » July 5th, 2017, 4:04 am

Why St. John uses the accusative Case in (τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας) here?
πνεῦμα ὁ θεός, καὶ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτὸν ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ δεῖ προσκυνεῖν. (Joh 4:24)
I know that (δεῖ) followed by acc. and inf. but in this text, I think it is proper to use (τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας) in nom. and (δεῖ) doesn't need acc. besides, τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας is not a subject of the inf. προσκυνεῖν, for the inf comes here after (δεῖ).
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Accusative Case in John4: 24

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » July 5th, 2017, 5:16 am

I don't see any options for interpretation of this structure. Apparently John thought it was proper to use accusative. We can easily understand what he meant. Maybe you just could change your presuppositions about how δεῖ can be used?

I can't follow your thought about the subject. Isn't δεῖ impersonal, like "it is necessary"? The thought in English is "It is necessary for (in Greek, acc.) those who worship him, to worship (inf.) in spirit and truth". The word order is normal, τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτὸν is the topic, ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ δεῖ προσκυνεῖν is the focus where ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ is fronted because it tells the way it is done instead of other possible ways. Why wouldn't the infinitive come after δεῖ? What would it actually change? The current order sounds natural.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Accusative Case in John4: 24

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » July 5th, 2017, 2:07 pm

I agree with Eeli. I looked for a plain simple explanation of what is going on in my NT grammars and didn’t find one. Smyth #1984 wasn’t much better. So as last resort I looked in Cooper.


John 4:23 ἀλλὰ ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν, ὅτε οἱ ἀληθινοὶ προσκυνηταὶ προσκυνήσουσιν τῷ πατρὶ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ· καὶ γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ τοιούτους ζητεῖ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτόν. 24 πνεῦμα ὁ θεός, καὶ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτὸν ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ δεῖ προσκυνεῖν.
Guy Cooper [1] “In most modern languages it is very natural for infinities to be introduced by impersonal verb forms and phrases. This manner of expression is also found in Classical Greek, with the subject of the infinitive in the accusative ...”

[1] Attic Greek Prose Syntax, v1, p794, 1:54.4.2.A
δεῖ is quasi-impersonal. Constructions like this, you read them all the time and don't even slow down or give them any thought. So when it comes to explaining them you haul out your ancient NT reference grammars which are more trouble to read then the greek text.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Accusative Case in John4: 24

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 6th, 2017, 9:56 am

I agree with Eeli and Stirling.

For the accusative, you can compare examples like these.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Accusative Case in John4: 24

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 6th, 2017, 9:11 pm

Yeah, the OP seems to be using word order to identify syntactic functions, which really isn't the way Greek works.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Accusative Case in John4: 24

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 6th, 2017, 9:23 pm

I think the range of syntactical usage of δεῖ accommodates the quoting of the accusative here.

Within the structure of the text, I find more issue with the use (sense) of καί than with the carrying over of the accusative in quotation.

I read the passage like this:
23b καὶ γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ τοιούτους ζητεῖ (+ acc.) τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτόν. 24 πνεῦμα ὁ θεός, καὶ (from context it seems to be almost explanatory "therefore" / "so" v. BDAG 1.b.ζ) "τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτὸν" ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ δεῖ προσκυνεῖν.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Accusative Case in John4: 24

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 7th, 2017, 12:56 am

I'm in Leipzig, and my BDAG is sitting at home. It's possible that this is just being carried over, like Stephen Hughes suggests, but I suspect this may also involve the arguments of δεῖ. Of course, the resulting parallelism makes it fit together well.

Wiktionary has a sense that seems to fit:
δεῖ "(with personal accusative and infinitive) it behooves one to, it is necessary to, one must".

Abbott-Smith also discuss acc + infinitive:
one must, it is necessary: c. inf., Mt 26:54, Mk 13:7, Ac 5:29, al.; c. acc. et inf., Mt 16:21, Mk 8:31, Jo 3:7, Ac 25:10, al.; with ellipse of acc., Mt 23:23; of acc., and inf., Mk 13:14, Ro 1:27 8:26; οὐ (μὴ) δεῖ (non licet), ought not, must not: Ac 25:24, II Ti 2:24; impf., ἔδει, of necessity or obligation in past time regarding a past event (Bl., § 63, 4), Mt 18:33, Lk 15:32, Jo 4:4, Ac 27:21, al.; periphr., δέον ἐστίν (as in Attic, χρεών ἐστι = χρή, v.s. δέον), Ac 19:36; id., with ellipse of ἐστίν, I Pe 1:6 τὰ μὴ δέοντα (= ἃ οὐ δεῖ I Ti 5:13.
Let's look at some of those verses.

I think what I am labeling o is traditionally considered the subject of the verb, but I'm wondering if there's a good reason not to think of this as two objects, similar to a double accusative. The case marks it as an object of the verb, doesn't it?

John 3:7
v Δεῖ
o ὑμᾶς
o2 γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν.

Mark 8:31
v δεῖ
o τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου
o2 πολλὰ παθεῖν

Matt 16:21
v δεῖ
o αὐτὸν
o2 εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ἀπελθεῖν καὶ πολλὰ παθεῖν

I suspect this is similar, but o2 is disrupted by the verb δεῖ:

John 4:24
o τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας
o2
o αὐτὸν
+ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ
v δεῖ
o2
v.inf προσκυνεῖν.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Accusative Case in John4: 24

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 7th, 2017, 1:14 am

Here's what LSJ has to say - looks like Wiktionary probably got it from here:
c. acc.pers. et inf., it is needful for one to do, one must, once in Hom., τί δὲ δεῖ πολεμιζέμεναι . . Ἀργείους why need the Argives fight? Il.9.337; δ. <μ’> ἐλθεῖν Pi.O.6.28, etc.: with nom. of the Pron., ἡγούμην . . δεῖν . . μεγαλοψυχότερος φαίνεσθαι D.19.235: rarely δεῖ σ’ ὅπως δείξεις, = δεῖ σε δεῖξαι, S.Aj.556, cf.Ph.54; δεῖ σ’ ὅπως μηδὲν διοίσεις Cratin.108; (the full constr. in S.Ph.77 τοῦτο δεῖ σοφισθῆναι . . ὅπως γενήσῃ): rarely c. dat. pers., there is need of . . for . ., θεοῖσι προσβαλεῖν χθονὶ ἄλλην δεήσει γαῖαν E.Hipp.941, cf. X.An.3.4.35, Oec.7.20: the acc. pers. is often omitted, ἐκ τῶν μανθάνειν δεῖ (sc. ἡμᾶς) Hdt.1.8, cf. A.Ag. 567, Eu.826, etc.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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RandallButh
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Re: Accusative Case in John4: 24

Post by RandallButh » July 7th, 2017, 3:15 am

I don't understand why there is special, extended discussion on John 4.24. Eeli, Stirling, and Jonathan were all correct at a first go.

It is good, simple, clear Greek. Δεῖ wants an infinitive complement, and the infinitive [ἀπαρέμφατος] wants accusative [αἰτιατικάς] arguments. Done.

If one wants to discuss pragmatics, then we can point out that τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτόν is first fronted as a Contextualizing Constituent [a.k.a. Topic] and ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ is fronted as marked salient information [Focus]. Double Done.

I've often said that John shows simple, natural Greek structures, in fact, John is the smoothest "Greek-styled" writing among the four gospels. [n.b.-- before quoting some source to me that says that 'Luke is the best Greek' or some such confusion, please try to unpack what I mean and maybe read a half dozen chapters of John and Luke in a sitting.]

John 4.24 reads very smoothly to anyone who can hold 15 words in a string while reading Greek, which is a sina qua nun, pardon my Latin, for any attempt at fluent reading.

Now I'll have my morning coffee. :)
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Accusative Case in John4: 24

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 7th, 2017, 5:51 am

RandallButh wrote:
July 7th, 2017, 3:15 am
I don't understand why there is special, extended discussion on John 4.24. Eeli, Stirling, and Jonathan were all correct at a first go.
But I think you are the first person to give a precise explanation. I felt like we all knew how to read the sentence, but not how to explain it well.

And you've now given that explanation:
RandallButh wrote:
July 7th, 2017, 3:15 am
Δεῖ wants an infinitive complement, and the infinitive [ἀπαρέμφατος] wants accusative [αἰτιατικάς] arguments. Done.

If one wants to discuss pragmatics, then we can point out that τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτόν is first fronted as a Contextualizing Constituent [a.k.a. Topic] and ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ is fronted as marked salient information [Focus]. Double Done.
Very nice. I think my problem in the last post was that I was trying to give Δεῖ two arguments after reading the above lexicon entries. So let me revise what I wrote above:

John 4:24
o
s τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτὸν
+ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ
v δεῖ
o
v.inf προσκυνεῖν.

In this case, your verbal explanation is simpler and clearer than the Treedown ...
RandallButh wrote:
July 7th, 2017, 3:15 am
Now I'll have my morning coffee. :)
My excuse was going to be that I hadn't had my morning coffee yet ... sigh ...
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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