Acts 21:9 προφητεύουσαι

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grogers
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Acts 21:9 προφητεύουσαι

Post by grogers » February 5th, 2016, 2:27 pm

I do hope this is not a stupid question and I hope I am in the correct forum. In Acts 21:9, which is the better rendering of προφητεύουσαι ? Most translations say 'prophesied' while the NAS reads 'prophetesses' which seems to agree with the nominative case. Is this correct or should the emphasis be more on the active voice? Or am I missing the point altogether?
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Glen Rogers

cwconrad
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Re: Acts 21:9 προφητεύουσαι

Post by cwconrad » February 5th, 2016, 2:59 pm

grogers wrote:I do hope this is not a stupid question and I hope I am in the correct forum. In Acts 21:9, which is the better rendering of προφητεύουσαι ? Most translations say 'prophesied' while the NAS reads 'prophetesses' which seems to agree with the nominative case. Is this correct or should the emphasis be more on the active voice? Or am I missing the point altogether?
The text:
Acts 21:9 τούτῳ δὲ ἦσαν θυγατέρες τέσσαρες παρθένοι προφητεύουσαι
The word in question is a present active participle, nom. f. pl. in agreement with παρθένοι, so that it could literally enough be rendered "prophesying". Many of us think of translation as conveying in the target language the substantial meaning of the original text rather than mirroring the structure of the original. The sentence could just as well be rendered, "This man had four unmarried daughters who prophesied" without any loss of essential content in the Greek text.
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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)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Acts 21:9 προφητεύουσαι

Post by Jonathan Robie » February 5th, 2016, 3:04 pm

grogers wrote:I do hope this is not a stupid question and I hope I am in the correct forum. In Acts 21:9, which is the better rendering of προφητεύουσαι ? Most translations say 'prophesied' while the NAS reads 'prophetesses' which seems to agree with the nominative case. Is this correct or should the emphasis be more on the active voice? Or am I missing the point altogether?
Here is the sentence:
Acts 21:9 wrote: τούτῳ δὲ ἦσαν θυγατέρες τέσσαρες παρθένοι προφητεύουσαι.
Let's look at θυγατέρες τέσσαρες παρθένοι προφητεύουσαι. The phrase θυγατέρες τέσσαρες παρθένοι means four unmarried daughters or four virgin daughters. προφητεύουσαι describes them, it is a present active participle, feminine plural, corresponding to the daughters, and it is nominative.

Now let's look at the main verb, simplifying the sentence a bit:
τούτῳ δὲ ἦσαν θυγατέρες προφητεύουσαι.
I think the main verb is ἦσαν. If the subject of the participle is the same as the subject of the main verb, the participle is nominative, as we see here. The main verb puts us into past time, the present participle shows ongoing action with respect to that time. So the above simplified sentence says "to this one there were daughters who were prophesying" or "to this one there were daughters who would prophesy". But the context fits the second interpretation better. And that's the sense that the English is translating.

Does that help?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

grogers
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Re: Acts 21:9 προφητεύουσαι

Post by grogers » February 5th, 2016, 3:11 pm

That makes sense. I suppose this is why it is rendered prophesied in most English translations rather than prophetesses. I am not sure that it really matters. Thanks a lot for the help.
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Glen Rogers

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Acts 21:9 προφητεύουσαι

Post by Jonathan Robie » February 5th, 2016, 3:12 pm

I see that Carl got there first, and was more concise ;->

I like your question. It shows that you are thinking about a mismatch between the translation and the underlying Greek, and you understand enough about the participle to know that there's a question here. Asking that question in the Beginner's Forum is appropriate.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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