ὑπό with secondary agency? (James 1:14)

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
cwconrad
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Re: ὑπό with secondary agency? (James 1:14)

Post by cwconrad » January 28th, 2012, 7:44 pm

nicholasj.ellis wrote:To take an errant example of ὑπό with an instrumental usage that assumes an alternate primary agency, consider the following

Rev. 6:8 - καὶ ὁ ᾅδης ἠκολούθει μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτοῖς ἐξουσία ἐπὶ τὸ τέταρτον τῆς γῆς ἀποκτεῖναι ἐν ῥομφαίᾳ καὶ ἐν λιμῷ καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν θηρίων τῆς γῆς.

Here, we have a pretty clear use of ὑπό as instrument, in combination with several ἑν+dative constructions: "authority was given . . . to kill with the sword, and with famine, and with the wild beasts."

The difference, of course, is that this use is with an active infinitive, rather than a passive. So, could one have said "they would be killed "ἐν ῥομφαίᾳ καὶ ἐν λιμῷ καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν θηρίων τῆς γῆς", or does the move to passive completely preclude?
I think that the author of Revelation, given the plethora of solecisms attributed to him, should be the last source in which to seek examples of standard Koine Greek usage. There's no question but that ὑπὸ + genitive is here used to indicate instrumentality; this would be like English "bring about death by wild beasts." Ordinarily standard Greek usage calls for an instrumental dative to indicate an inanimate factor bringing about a result and for a genitive with ὑπό to indicate persons or animate factors. But the distinction between ultimate, intermediary, and immediate agencies isn't necessarily indicated with precision.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

nicholasj.ellis
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Re: ὑπό with secondary agency? (James 1:14)

Post by nicholasj.ellis » January 28th, 2012, 8:08 pm

cwconrad wrote:I think that the author of Revelation, given the plethora of solecisms attributed to him, should be the last source in which to seek examples of standard Koine Greek usage.
Granted.

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