Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post Reply
Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3332
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 19th, 2016, 1:06 am

Acts 25:16 wrote:Πρὸς οὓς ἀπεκρίθην, ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἔθος Ῥωμαίοις χαρίζεσθαί τινα ἄνθρωπον εἰς ἀπώλειαν, πρὶν ἢ ὁ κατηγορούμενος κατὰ πρόσωπον ἔχοι τοὺς κατηγόρους, τόπον τε ἀπολογίας λάβοι περὶ τοῦ ἐγκλήματος.
Is the use of the optatives here general high-register Koine, or a specific requirement of addressing a ruler in a legal case? Did the writer of the Acts characterise this address as using the optative because it was conventional to use the optative in portraying a petition before a ruler in this way, or to portray Paul in this situation as using high register Greek, when others may not have used such formal Greek?
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

RandallButh
Posts: 884
Joined: May 13th, 2011, 4:01 am

Re: Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post by RandallButh » June 19th, 2016, 3:49 am

I think you halfway answer yourself. Obviously, before the ruler in a potentially capital case a person is going to put their best face forward and use the best language possible. So this is an example of high register Koine.

The quotation itself would have allowed a subjunctive in Koine even classical as direct speech (indirect would prefer εἴη/ἔχοι), though an infinitive clause may be more common. Perhaps the infinitive was avoided with πρὶν ἢ because of following an infinitive clause.

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3332
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 19th, 2016, 5:05 am

What did the educated Roman elite learn to write and compose speeches in? Attic or Koine Greek?

Is Paul making an,"I am Roman" statement by using the highest register - the register of grammar closest to the literary Attic that an official may have learnt? In sociolinguistic termd, is he choosing a register or dialect to show membership of a group?
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

RandallButh
Posts: 884
Joined: May 13th, 2011, 4:01 am

Re: Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post by RandallButh » June 19th, 2016, 6:44 am

I'm not sure that the distinction Koine vs. Attic is fixed for the first century. Look at Josephus. He writes an educated Koine//Attic.

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3332
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 19th, 2016, 10:12 am

RandallButh wrote:I'm not sure that the distinction Koine vs. Attic is fixed for the first century. Look at Josephus. He writes an educated Koine//Attic.
I've only read here and there from Josephus, and not right the way through in translation. Is there anything to suggest that Josephus was pro-Roman in his choice of register or dialect? Is his work similar to actual Roman historians?
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

RandallButh
Posts: 884
Joined: May 13th, 2011, 4:01 am

Re: Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post by RandallButh » June 19th, 2016, 12:28 pm

In dialect and register, Josephus was pro-Greek.
In Antiquities 17-19 studies have argued that he has phrases from Θουκυδίδου. Read a book or few other chapters from War or Antiquities.

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3332
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 20th, 2016, 1:33 am

RandallButh wrote:In dialect and register, Josephus was pro-Greek.
In Antiquities 17-19 studies have argued that he has phrases from Θουκυδίδου. Read a book or few other chapters from War or Antiquities.
Based just on this morning's two chapters of book 11 of the Antiquities, I'd say that Josephus is much easier to pick and go with than either of the historians from the 5th century. The style of narrative in those two chapters at least, has less of the complexity in constructing narrative with participles that both Thucydides is famous for, and which the Gospels and Acts employ.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3332
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 20th, 2016, 1:34 am

Another question about prestige and register in that address.

BDAG says that πρὶν ἢ, as opposed to simply πρὶν common in the Attic sub-dialect / idiom, is typical of the wider Ionic Sprachraum. In other words, the way that the Ionic dialect was spoken in Athens (or Attica) left off the ἢ from the phrase πρὶν ἢ, as a regional feature. Just reading the BDAG entry, it would be easy to think that the choice between Attic πρὶν and Ionic πρὶν ἢ was a clear and binary one between two Abstandsprachen, but within a dialect continuum the loss of an element of a phrase, which could be lost without confusion, is common enough.

Besides the prepositional usage of πρὶν (in D for example and which continues into Modern Greek) is there any significance in the choice of πρὶν ἢ in Acts 25 in terms of register?
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

RandallButh
Posts: 884
Joined: May 13th, 2011, 4:01 am

Re: Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post by RandallButh » June 20th, 2016, 8:48 am

I think of πρὶν ἢ as normal Greek. It's common enough in GNT, LXX, Josephus, so what's not to like?

Stephen Carlson
Posts: 2590
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne
Contact:

Re: Acts 25:16 optative formal situ. or high-reg Koine?

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 20th, 2016, 10:39 pm

If the optative fits, you must acquit!
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest