propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

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Thomas Farrar
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propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

Post by Thomas Farrar » October 6th, 2013, 10:52 am

Hi all,

I'm looking for assistance with an exegetical question which depends on Greek grammar. I have Daniel B. Wallace's Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament and have dabbled in the basics of koine Greek but haven't yet completed even a first course in it. So I can use all the help I can get.

I am currently working on an exegesis of Jude's quotation from 1 Enoch in Jude 14-15. I'm responding to an interpretation which claims that nearly all English translations render this verse incorrectly, and that most commentators misinterpret Jude's point as a result.

Jude introduces the quotation from 1 Enoch 1:9-10 with the words "proepheteusen de kai toutois hebdomos apo adam enoch", literally (correct me if I'm wrong) "Prophesied and also to these the seventh from Adam, Enoch"

The key issue here is that the verb propheteuo is not modified by any preposition but only by the third person plural pronoun in the dative case (toutois).

Most English translations include the preposition "about" or "concerning", i.e. "It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied" (ESV).

However, my interlocutor argues as follows:
"If Jude had wanted to say "prophesied ABOUT these men" (NIV) he would have written proepheteusen PERI touton (verb + preposition PERI + genitive case pronoun plural), but instead what Jude actually wrote was proepheteusen toutois (verb + dative case pronoun plural) "prophesied TO these men". The difference between these two constructions is always observed elsewhere in the New Testament. (See F. Blass, A. Debrunner, & R.W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament, University of Chicago 1961, section 229 p.121).

The minor but important grammatical error in this verse appears to have originated with the Latin Bible (which reads "prophesied however concerning them" prophetavit autem de his), and unfortunately was then followed by Luther, Tyndale, the King James Bible and, it appears, the translators of every English version since."
(I've noted that A.T. Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament supports the reading "to these".)

Based on the above grammatical point, the following conclusion is reached:
Here Jude makes it clear that this particular "Enoch" (i.e. the Book, not the Genesis patriarch) did not prophesy "concerning" these false teachers "to" Jude himself, nor "to" the faithful, but only prophesied "to" the false teachers. This is Jude's way of making it clear that the quote that follows is not from the real Enoch of Genesis, but from the Jewish author who styled himself "Enoch the Seventh from Adam" and who only prophesied to those that were taken in by his book.
These quotations are from the pamphlet "The Angels that Sinned: Slandering Celestial Beings" which can be accessed at http://www.christadelphia.org/pamphlet/p_sinned.htm.

I am skeptical of this interpretation, because Jude elsewhere appears to endorse material from 1 Enoch (e.g. the 'angels that left their first estate' in Jude 6), and also because, by attributing the quotation to "Enoch, the seventh from Adam" it appears to me that he thought it was genuinely the words of the Genesis patriarch. Furthermore, it appears that patristic writers -- even those with a very low view of 1 Enoch, like Augustine -- universally accepted that Jude viewed his quotation as authentic, divinely inspired prophecy.

Nevertheless, the grammatical argument from the propheteuo + dative construction seems fairly strong. The only other "propheteuo + dative" construction in the NT is in Matt. 26:68 where Jesus' enemies taunted him, "Prophesy to us, you Christ!" However, in the LXX there a number of instances in the book of Jeremiah where this construction is used: Jer. 14:14 LXX, 29:9 LXX, 36:31 LXX, 44:19 LXX, 34:10-16 LXX (remember that the versification in Jeremiah LXX does not match that of the MT/English Bible in the later chapters). In all of these instances, 'prophesy to' is used with reference to false prophecy. By contrast, when referring to authentic prophecy from Jeremiah or Uriah, a prepositional construction is used: propheteuo + preposition + genitive pronoun (Jer. 32:30 LXX; 33:11-12 LXX; 33:20 LXX). The preposition varies between epi, peri and kata. The same prepositional construction is used of authentic prophecy in Ezra 5:1 LXX, Ezek. 36:1 LXX, Ezek. 37:9 LXX and Amos 7:15 LXX. (I am not aware of any propheteuo + dative constructions in the LXX outside of Jeremiah.)

The lone exception I could find to this distinction is in Jer. 36:27 LXX. In the MT and English Bible of Jer. 29:27, it is the words of the false prophet Shemaiah (being quoted by God), who complains to the priests that they have not rebuked Jeremiah for prophesying 'to you' (propheteuo + dative). In Shemaiah's view Jeremiah's prophecy was false, so it fits our grammatical distinction. However, in Brenton's LXX text and translation, the words of Jer. 36:27 LXX are instead spoken by God to Shemaiah and made positive instead of negative: God complains to Shemaiah, "And now wherefore have ye reviled together Jeremias of Anathoth, who prophesied to you?" In this instance, the propheteuo + dative construction is used of genuine predictive prophecy.

However, as an additional twist, the New English Translation of the Septuagint follows the MT reading in which these words are spoken negatively by Shemaiah to the priests, not positively by God to Shemaiah. (I don't have access to a critical LXX text so I don't know the text-critical issues involved - perhaps this warrants a separate post in the textual criticism forum).

As you can see this is a pretty involved question, but I wanted to lay the facts out on the table. From Wallace's Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament p. 141ff, it seems to me that in Jude 14 we have either a "dative of indirect object" or a "dative of interest".

My underlying questions are these:
1) Is "concerning these" or "about these" a justifiable translation of the Greek, or is "to these" definitely preferable?
2) In light of the above evidence, is it fair to say there is a syntactical convention that "propheteuo + dative pronoun" refers to prophecy that is somehow inauthentic, while "propheteuo + preposition + genitive pronoun" refers to authentic, inspired prophecy?

I know the issues are quite technical but that's why I'm coming here for help. Any advice on this issue is greatly appreciated, as well as referrals to any literature which addresses this issue. I haven't found a commentary or monograph on Jude that discusses this specific syntactical issue in any detail.

Blessings in Christ,
Tom
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 6th, 2013, 4:37 pm

Greetings, Tom, and welcome to B-Greek.

One request: Please don't discuss theological controversies, we avoid them like the plague, because we are all about trying to understand the text per se, and please don't link to sites that do. That can draw argumentative people who don't know Greek but want to argue theology.

Also: As a beginner, please stay in the beginner's section. You are welcome as long as you are working on your Greek, and we will support you in that. We will also do our best to avoid becoming the arbiter in theological disputes, it distracts from what we do here.

Now back to Jude 14: here is the Greek:
Προεφήτευσεν δὲ καὶ τούτοις ἕβδομος ἀπὸ Ἀδὰμ Ἑνὼχ
So let me rephrase your questions as follows:

(1) Most translations say that Enoch "prophesized against" or "prophesized about" these people. But A. T. Robertson's Word Pictures translates δὲ καὶ τούτοις as "and to these also". Are both translations valid? Which is most likely to be correct?
(2) Does the verb προφητεύω indicate the role of these people by the case it uses?

Does that capture your question?

P.S. have you read The Book of Enoch?
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Thomas Farrar
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Re: propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

Post by Thomas Farrar » October 6th, 2013, 4:58 pm

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for the feedback, in the future I won't link to theological controversies.

I think you've captured the first part of my question well. I would also like to know whether the Greek grammar of Jude 14 conveys the idea of a false or uninspired prophecy (in light of the similar constructions in Jeremiah LXX), or whether the grammar is ambiguous on this point and could also convey the idea of true, inspired prophecy.

I have read parts of the Book of Enoch, particularly the early chapters which seem to be the basis of the allusions in 2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6. I am also intrigued by the similarities between the "Son of Man" judgment scene in 1 Enoch 62 and Jesus' prophecy of the judgment in Matt. 25:31-46.

Blessings,
Thomas
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 6th, 2013, 5:05 pm

Thomas Farrar wrote:I'm looking for assistance with an exegetical question which depends on Greek grammar. I have Daniel B. Wallace's Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament and have dabbled in the basics of koine Greek but haven't yet completed even a first course in it. So I can use all the help I can get.
Many people further their study of Greek by reason of their getting into situations like what you have described here.

That being said, there are a number of ways you can go forward with your study. Having succinct grammatical rules is great for these sort of forums and for other types of arguements that people want to win from time to time. Quoting a rule, usually with big names or making a great arguement looks good on paper or sounds good in an arguement - that is like an air war. Quoting linguistic theory takes arguementation to the "next" level, like using unconventional weapons (WMDs). Those types of approaches might have their place, and many people seem to have good reasons for pursuing their study of Greek in that direction, but I don't think that is the best way to go. Mucking it on the ground and wading through the Greek for yourself is reading. Ultimately being on the ground, having a personal involvement with the text wins out. Reading and struggling with the text is disorganised, the rules that you think you know get confused, the words that you think you understand seem to mean something completely different from time to time. I suggest you further your study, by getting a grounding in as much as you personally need to read, and then read widely and over many years. Although you are presently coming to Greek to win or understand an arguement, don't just use the language as a tool to win arguements, it is so much more than that, learn it and enjoy reading it.

With that in mind, let's have a look at one of your statements:
Thomas Farrar wrote:2) In light of the above evidence, is it fair to say there is a syntactical convention that "propheteuo + dative pronoun" refers to prophecy that is somehow inauthentic, while "propheteuo + preposition + genitive pronoun" refers to authentic, inspired prophecy?
It does seem that the second rule you have suggested could hold water based on the evidence you have provided, and that may or may not be the case, or it may be the case, but the rule might not be too accurate. Greek is a language like any other, so looking at what it seems to be the general line that someone is trying to say is a valid way of approaching the language. Look at the context of the epistle you have taken it from...

Verses 14b and 15 don't sound unreasonable given the context of "the ungodly" given in verse 4. The coming judgement of the ungodly doesn't seem like a false prophesy. Jude is a very short letter, not an exposition of heresy. It is unlikely that a catholic (publicly read for all) text will have a great long reference to ideas that the author is suggesting that we don't accept. Writing with certain grammatical rules are like other human habits and customs - even people with the best table manners may occasionally eat using their forks prongs-up - and there would be a measure of people who would judge them to be such and so type of person because of that. Language learning can be quite laid back and enjoyable.
Last edited by Stephen Hughes on October 6th, 2013, 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Thomas Farrar
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Re: propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

Post by Thomas Farrar » October 6th, 2013, 5:17 pm

Thank you Stephen for your thoughtful reply which has a lot of wisdom in it that I will take to heart.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 6th, 2013, 5:32 pm

It's very rare for almost all translations to be wrong. There are people here whose Greek is better than mine, but to me, the grammar allows either the interpretation that this is about them ("of them"), the interpretation in most translations, or to them. It is true that the word περι can indicate who or what the prophecy is about, I see three places in the New Testament where this is true. The word prophecy is used 28 times, but in many cases it does not state who or what the prophecy is about. Revelation 10:11 uses a different word for this. So I don't see a lot of evidence for the rule, but I have only searched in the New Testament, and fairly quickly.

The standard lexicon, BDAG, does not contain this rule, or the rule about the cases.

The Book of Enoch seems to be written to the elect and righteous, about the wicked and godless. It starts out as follows:
The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed.
So at first blush, without further study, I would say that (1) it is ambiguous, and (2) Enoch helps resolve the ambiguity. But there could well be more to it than I know, so watch this space.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » October 6th, 2013, 6:24 pm

Bauckham and Kelly both note the oddness of the dative here. Somehow I am having a hard time accepting the notion that dative case with Προεφήτευσεν would entail that the prophecy was inauthentic because that isn't a feature of the semantics of the dative case. Unless we argue that there is some sort of special idiom in regard to Προεφήτευσεν with the dative and I find that far fetched.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » October 6th, 2013, 7:01 pm

In first Kings we see προφητεύει used in a context where the authenticity of the prophecy is an issue and the dative pronoun is used:

1Kings 22:18 καὶ εἶπεν βασιλεὺς Ισραηλ πρὸς Ιωσαφατ βασιλέα Ιουδα Οὐκ εἶπα πρὸς σέ Οὐ προφητεύει οὗτός μοι καλά, διότι ἀλλ᾿ ἢ κακά;

NETS And the king of Israel said to Iosaphat, king of Iouda, “Did I not tell you that this one does not prophesy anything good to me, for on the contrary evil?”

1Kings 22:18 RSV And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?”
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George F Somsel
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Re: propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

Post by George F Somsel » October 7th, 2013, 1:51 am

In one respect, it would seem that it is correct to say that the prophecy would be TO them rather than concerning them. In the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 2:14 it has
καὶ Ἠλείας (ὁ προφή)της ἐκ Θεσ(βῶν) … καὶ τὴν Σαμαρίαν, καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπροφήτευεν περὶ Ὀχοζείου ὅτι
Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008).

So that it would appear that the subject of the prophecy is preceded by the preposition περί. Three is generally, however, more than one way in which to phrase a statement so it is possible that the dative could be used though it is also conceivable that what is intended is that the prophecy was TO them rather than concerning them yet, even as being a prophecy TO them would not thereby eliminate that it was also CONCERNING them. I would be extremely hesitant, however, to make any judgment regarding the authenticity of the prophecy on that basis.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: propheteuo + dative in Jude 14

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 7th, 2013, 3:33 am

Thomas Farrar wrote:Thank you Stephen for your thoughtful reply which has a lot of wisdom in it that I will take to heart.
You will hear many good things from people who have a range of skills and a breadth of experience. Because of a difference in time-zone, my contributions come at a different time to others, I suggest that you consider what all contributers to the discussion have to say.
Thomas Farrar wrote:I have read parts of the Book of Enoch, particularly the early chapters which seem to be the basis of the allusions in 2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6. I am also intrigued by the similarities between the "Son of Man" judgment scene in 1 Enoch 62 and Jesus' prophecy of the judgment in Matt. 25:31-46.
When you first discover things Henny Pennyism - jumping to simple conclusions based on limited evidence seems to have let you discover hidden secrets - is a very real trap you can fall into. Read more widely and you will see many more similarities. Books were written within religious movements not just. Read some secondary literature if you can - you may agree or disagree with what others have to say, but at least you should consider what they are saying.

To I think it might be useful to look at the beginning of 1 Enoch (H.R. Charles) http://www.ccel.org/c/charles/otpseudep ... NOCH_1.HTM
The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be 2 living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed. And he took up his parable and said -Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the angels showed me, and from them I heard everything, and from them I understood as I saw, but not for this generation, but for a remote one which is 3 for to come. Concerning the elect I said, and took up my parable concerning them:

(...)

9And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones
To execute judgement upon all,
And to destroy all the ungodly:
And to convict all flesh
Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed,
And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. [My emboldening:SGH]
If the τούτοις is read within the context of that work it would seem to mean "to them (the righteous)". Within the context of the epistle to Jude the righteous are in the second person ("you"). This apparent interdiscursivity suggests to me that even though τούτοις is written in the 3rd person, it is actually referring to the 2nd person, and would be better translated as "to you" (or "concerning you"). I don't think that a resolution of the interdiscursivity should be brought into translations - Bible translations traditionally preserve the text rather than convey the sense of the Greek.

To put my point succinctly; if a prophesy is about or to someone or some people in this second person ("you") situation - ie. in the case when the prophesy is both directed to the person and is about the person - then the difference between "to" and "about" is minimal. It is only in the first and third person that "to" and "about" become markedly different.
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