Acts 13:48 - Subordinate Clause

How do I work out the meaning of a Greek text? How can I best understand the forms and vocabulary in this particular text?
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Re: Acts 13:48 - Subordinate Clause

Postby rhutchin » January 8th, 2013, 2:26 pm

Peter Streitenberger wrote:Dear Friends,
ἐπίστευσαν belongs to the main clause and is the predicate, followed by a subordinate clause that describes the already believing gentiles as such being appointed to eternal life. I'd say, that believe is forefronted and the appointment is the result of it. Right ?
Yours
Peter, Germany


Robertson, "Word Pictures in the New Testament," says, "The subject of the verb is the relative clause. By no manner of legerdemain can it be made to mean 'those who believed were appointed.'" That's one opinion contrary to what you say.
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Re: Acts 13:48 - Subordinate Clause

Postby rhutchin » January 8th, 2013, 2:35 pm

rhutchin wrote:Acts 13:48 includes this:

και ἐπιστευσαν ὁσοι ἡσαν τεταγμενοι εἰσζην αἰωνιον

Someone explained this verse thusly, "οσοι (all who, a subgroup of a previously identified main group) introduces a subordinate clause, but "believed" is in the main clause. In the subordinate clause (including οσοι) there is only "all who had been appointed to eternal life". The conditions stated in a subordinate clause depend on those in the main clause for their existence. Putting it simply, "believed" results (directly or indirectly) in "appointed". "

I objected saying, " 'Believed' is not the cause of someone being appointed; it is a quality (or status) obtained by those described as "appointed." Those people who had been appointed believed."

The person responded,"If the circumstances were as you describe, the author would not have used a subordinate clause - he would have used a genitive clause: it would include a γαρ or at least begin with a και or some similar particle. I won't ask you to believe me when I say that the conditions of a subordinate clause are subject to the conditions of its main clause."

Is this person correct in his analysis?


Additional analysis provided by the perosn above:

"Also stated in Robertsons exposition "The Jews here had voluntarily rejected the word of God." - at least he admitted it was voluntary.

"The subject of the verb is the relative clause. By no manner of legerdemain can it be made to mean 'those who believed were appointed[/i].'"WRONG CONJUGATION. Believed is conjugated for the plural - if the relative clause was the subject, "believed" would need to be singular.

The verb and its subject must be in the same clause. To support Robertsons's point of view, it would be necessary to first move "believed" from the main clause to the relative clause, which, putting it bluntly, would be major text wresting.

If the subject of "believed" was not the relative clause as a whole but οσοι, the "and" separating "believed" from "all who" would need to be relocated to precede believed. In translation even then, "believed" would need to be placed between "all who" and "had been appointed" - making it "all who believed had been appointed" - a direct contradiction of Robertson's claim.

και οσοι - and all of the previously stated people (all who did so) had been appointed to eternal life. It is an epilogue, in the same pattern as "and they all lived happily ever after."

Again, is he correct in his analysis?
Roger Hutchinson
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Re: Acts 13:48 - Subordinate Clause

Postby David Lim » January 8th, 2013, 10:37 pm

rhutchin wrote:"The subject of the verb is the relative clause. By no manner of legerdemain can it be made to mean 'those who believed were appointed[/i].'"WRONG CONJUGATION. Believed is conjugated for the plural - if the relative clause was the subject, "believed" would need to be singular.

"οσοι" is plural and "ησαν τεταγμενοι" is plural, so why must anything be singular? By the way, I would consider it to be a correlative clause (functions as a noun phrase) rather than a relative clause (functions as an adverbial phrase).

rhutchin wrote:The verb and its subject must be in the same clause. To support Robertsons's point of view, it would be necessary to first move "believed" from the main clause to the relative clause, which, putting it bluntly, would be major text wresting.

The verb and its subject are indeed in the same clause. The verb is "επιστευσαν" and the subject is "οσοι ησαν τεταγμενοι εις ζην αιωνιον". The structure is "επιστευσαν { οσοι ( ησαν τεταγμενοι ( εις ζην αιωνιον ) ) }", where "ησαν τεταγμενοι" can be considered to specify what "οσοι" refers to. "οσοι" itself means that the subject of "επιστευσαν" is exactly the same entity as the ones who "ησαν τεταγμενοι εις ζην αιωνιον".

rhutchin wrote:If the subject of "believed" was not the relative clause as a whole but οσοι, the "and" separating "believed" from "all who" would need to be relocated to precede believed. In translation even then, "believed" would need to be placed between "all who" and "had been appointed" - making it "all who believed had been appointed" - a direct contradiction of Robertson's claim.
και οσοι - and all of the previously stated people (all who did so) had been appointed to eternal life. It is an epilogue, in the same pattern as "and they all lived happily ever after."

I don't understand what this is about. "και" here is simply a conjunction between "επιστευσαν οσοι ησαν τεταγμενοι εις ζην αιωνιον" and the earlier phrase, and it has nothing to do with the meaning of the phrase in question.

Finally, as Stephen pointed out right at the beginning, the text itself does not grammatically necessitate causation in either direction, but simply identity of the two descriptions; the ones who believed were as many as (the same as) the ones who had been appointed for eternal life. If you just give me the phrase all by itself, I would say that it means "those who had been appointed for eternal life believed", however what "being appointed ..." means is not clear at all. So we still need the context anyway. But we aren't keen on discussing interpretations on B-Greek, so you might still have to figure that out yourself. :)
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Re: Acts 13:48 - Subordinate Clause

Postby rhutchin » January 9th, 2013, 1:44 pm

David Lim wrote:Finally, as Stephen pointed out right at the beginning, the text itself does not grammatically necessitate causation in either direction, but simply identity of the two descriptions; the ones who believed were as many as (the same as) the ones who had been appointed for eternal life. If you just give me the phrase all by itself, I would say that it means "those who had been appointed for eternal life believed", however what "being appointed ..." means is not clear at all. So we still need the context anyway. But we aren't keen on discussing interpretations on B-Greek, so you might still have to figure that out yourself. :)


Apparently, there are people (on websites) advocating that τεταγμενοι should be taken as the middle voice. So, it appears that if you take τεταγμενοι to be the middle voice, you can go off in one theological direction and if you take τεταγμενοι to be passive, you can go off in a different theological direction. At least, in that case, a grammatical analysis would sort out one view from the other.

A question, grammatically speaking, can τεταγμενοι be either middle or passive voice or is it pretty certain that it is to be taken as passive (or middle)?
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Re: Acts 13:48 - Subordinate Clause

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 9th, 2013, 2:37 pm

rhutchin wrote:A question, grammatically speaking, can τεταγμενοι be either middle or passive voice or is it pretty certain that it is to be taken as passive (or middle)?


As I suggested earlier, it is grammatically underdetermined whether it is "passive" or "middle" because the middle-passive form says nothing about who the agent is. It merely says that the subject is affected (the middle-passive part) and remains in the state of having been so affected (the perfect part). The English passive tends to exclude any agency of the subject, but not the Greek middle-passive. So you're asking for the Greek voice to tell more than it actually means.

I realize that this is an important verse in the predestination debate, and I realize that it's frustrating that Luke did not write Acts 13:48 with that debate in mind, but let's keep the focus on what (little) the Greek syntax tells us.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: Acts 13:48 - Subordinate Clause

Postby cwconrad » January 9th, 2013, 2:39 pm

rhutchin wrote:
David Lim wrote:Finally, as Stephen pointed out right at the beginning, the text itself does not grammatically necessitate causation in either direction, but simply identity of the two descriptions; the ones who believed were as many as (the same as) the ones who had been appointed for eternal life. If you just give me the phrase all by itself, I would say that it means "those who had been appointed for eternal life believed", however what "being appointed ..." means is not clear at all. So we still need the context anyway. But we aren't keen on discussing interpretations on B-Greek, so you might still have to figure that out yourself. :)


Apparently, there are people (on websites) advocating that τεταγμενοι should be taken as the middle voice. So, it appears that if you take τεταγμενοι to be the middle voice, you can go off in one theological direction and if you take τεταγμενοι to be passive, you can go off in a different theological direction. At least, in that case, a grammatical analysis would sort out one view from the other.

A question, grammatically speaking, can τεταγμενοι be either middle or passive voice or is it pretty certain that it is to be taken as passive (or middle)?


Yes. That is to say, it can be argued legitimately either way, although those who take it one way rather than the other will tell you that it could only be the way they take it. My own way of expressing this ambivalent sense of τεταγμένοι εἰσίν is with a hyper-literal English version, "they are lined up (for salvation)." That is to say, the form τεταγμένοι εἰσίν really doesn't indicate whether the subject(s) are responsible for their being "lined up" or whether some external force or agency has put them into this lineup.

IF this thread has served any real purpose of clarification at all, perhaps it has helped to clarify the extent to which the assumptions that we bring with us to the interpretation of these Biblical Greek texts impact the way we read them. Texts that may seem theologically especially profound may very well be the most open to eisegetical readings.
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