To or about?

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Re: To or about?

Postby Evan Blackmore » November 22nd, 2012, 4:32 am

I'd be inclined to construe εν Ηλια with λεγει rather than οιδατε, because only a few verses earlier Paul has written εν τω Ωσηε λεγει (9:25), where there's no ambiguity about the syntax.

Paul is like nearly all of us: when he's used a particular construction once, it lodges in his mind, and it becomes more likely to pop out again a short time later. So I find it hard to believe that εν Ηλια λεγει is functioning differently from εν τω Ωσηε λεγει.

If we feel there's a difference, that may be because we've been brought up to think that a piece of literature has only one acceptable designation--viz. its Library of Congress Catalog title. But in ancient times, ways of citing passages were much more flexible. A passage cited as εν τω Ωσηε could equally well have been cited as εν βιβλω των προφητων (Acts 7:42). A passage cited as εν τη βιβλω Μωυσεως (to take the last example raised in this thread) could equally well have been cited as εν τω νομου κυριου (Luke 2:24).

Even in modern times we haven't yet become absolutely inflexible in this respect. We'd allow "Homer says in the catalog of ships" and "Joyce says in Anna Livia Plurabelle," even though there's no literary work or pericope officially entitled "The Catalog of Ships" or "Anna Livia Plurabelle." I personally don't see that εν Ηλια λεγει need pose any greater problem than those.
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Re: To or about?

Postby Iver Larsen » November 22nd, 2012, 4:58 am

It looks like I need to clarify what I meant by fronting. The sentence in question is:

οὐκ οἴδατε ἐν Ἠλίᾳ τί λέγει ἡ γραφή, ὡς ἐντυγχάνει τῷ θεῷ κατὰ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ;

As far as I know οἶδα can take as object either a phrase in the accusative or a content clause which often begins with τί. So, I take the object or content clause for οἴδατε to be τί λέγει ἡ γραφή ἐν Ἠλίᾳ (what the Scripture says (with respect?) to Elijah.) It cannot mean "in the scroll of Elijah" like "in the scroll of Hoseah" partly because there is no article, partly because there is no book entitled Elijah. If it were to be "in the passage of Elijah" I would have expected a definite article at least.

I am not against the idea of "with respect/regard to", but it is not quite satisfactory. It is so semantically broad that it can cover almost any sense. Regardless of how we classify the illusive ἐν, what the author has in mind to focus on is the divine words to Elijah as clarified in verse 4.

Maybe it fits BDAG sense 8 where I read among other things:
⑧ marker denoting the object to which someth. happens ..., to,
The something happening here is speaking and the speaking happens to Elijah. ἐν can be used to refer to the semantic role of experiencer in the case of verbs of communication. That would be sense m in L&N: m to (experiencer): 90.56. The crucial speech to Elijah is in verse 4. The rest of verses 2 and 3 describes Elijah's frustration. It is only setting the scene for the divine communication in v. 4.

BDAG sense 12 is:
⑫ marker of specification or substance
That seems to be L&N's sense k and l: k with regard to (specification): 89.5, l of (substance): 89.141

Because I am a bible translator, I come to the text as a translator and look at larger chunks of text rather than individual words. The context does not indicate to me that "about" is the right choice, because the text in Romans is not really about Elijah, but about God and his message to Elijah. I am not going to discuss various English bible translations here, but only notice that NIV has added "the passage about" in order to retain the "in". This is supported by the quote from Barnes that David gave, but the argument is weakened by the fact that ἐπί is used in the two places referred to rather than ἐν.

So, in summary, I can accept "with regard to" or "in connection with" because that carries very little meaning and will fit almost any context, but later it is narrowed to Elijah as the recipient of the divine communication, so I am not exlcuding the sense "to" referring the one who heard from God.
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Re: To or about?

Postby Evan Blackmore » November 22nd, 2012, 5:56 am

Iver Larsen wrote:It cannot mean "in the scroll of Elijah" like "in the scroll of Hoseah" partly because there is no article, partly because there is no book entitled Elijah. If it were to be "in the passage of Elijah" I would have expected a definite article at least.


Thanks not just for this, but for all your thoughts about this topic, which I find most intriguing.

I suppose my hesitations are:

1) "Cannot" is a stronger word than I'd be inclined to use. In reality the article is often missing, as a quick computer search will reveal, e.g. (to take incontestable "book" names) εν βιβλω λογων ησαιου (Luke 3:4), εν βιβλω ψαλμων (Luke 20:42), εν βιβλω των προφητων (Acts 7:42, already cited), etc., etc. In the present case there are several plausible reasons for avoiding use of the article, e.g. the desire to avoid the jingle τω... τι.

2) Acts 7:42 also shows that (at least in some manuscripts) Hosea, like Elijah, wasn't a βιβλος in those days (just a section in the βιβλω των προφητων).

3) In addition, I doubt whether there was a very fixed boundary between "βιβλος" and "passage." That might have varied; for instance, different copies of the prophets might have occupied a different number of βιβλοι.
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Re: To or about?

Postby Iver Larsen » November 22nd, 2012, 6:27 am

Since we have discussing BDAG it may be worth mentioning that Rom 11:2 is listed in BDAG under sense 1a:

① marker of a position defined as being in a location, in, among (the basic idea, Rob. 586f)
ⓐ of the space or place within which someth. is found, in: ....—W. quotations and accounts of the subject matter of literary works: in (Ps.-Demetr. c. 226 ὡς ἐν τῷ Εὐθυδήμῳ; Simplicius in Epict. p. 28, 37 ἐν τῷ Φαίδωνι; Ammon. Hermiae in Aristot. De Interpret. c. 9 p. 136, 20 Busse ἐν Τιμαίῳ παρειλήφαμεν=we have received as a tradition; 2 Macc 2:4; 1 Esdr 1:40; 5:48; Sir 50:27; Just., A I, 60, 1 ἐν τῷ παρὰ Πλάτωνι Τιμαίῳ) ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ 1 Cor 5:9. ἐν τῷ νόμῳ Lk 24:44; J 1:45. ἐν τοῖς προφήταις Ac 13:40. ἐν Ἠλίᾳ in the story of Elijah Ro 11:2 (Just., D. 120, 3 ἐν τῷ Ἰούδα). ἐν τῷ Ὡσηέ 9:25 (Just., D. 44, 2 ἐν τῷ Ἰεζεκιήλ). ἐν Δαυίδ in the Psalter (by David is also prob.: s. 6) Hb 4:7. ἐν ἑτέρῳ προφήτῃ in another prophet B 6:14

Louw and Nida do not list Rom 11:2 anywhere as an example.

I am not convinced that BDAG is correct in their analysis of this verse.
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Re: To or about?

Postby Evan Blackmore » November 22nd, 2012, 8:14 am

Yes, I agree that caution is wise, but we do seem to be uncovering more and more apparent examples of the disputed phenomenon. The passage cited by BDAG from Justin is particularly striking. The standard commentaries (Sanday & Headlam, ICC, pp. 310-11; Cranfield, ICC, vol. 2 pp. 545-46; Billerbeck vol. 3 p. 288) list lots of others, including examples from Philo and from ancient citations of Homer (e.g. εν νεκυια--cf. my "in the catalog of ships" above). They also point out that the same usage is common in Hebrew in the Rabbinic literature. There's even an instance in the Song of Songs Midrash 1:6 (88a) where "in Elijah" (bʾlyhw) introduces a reference to the very passage cited by Paul here.
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Re: To or about?

Postby David Lim » November 22nd, 2012, 10:23 pm

Evan Blackmore wrote:Yes, I agree that caution is wise, but we do seem to be uncovering more and more apparent examples of the disputed phenomenon. The passage cited by BDAG from Justin is particularly striking. The standard commentaries (Sanday & Headlam, ICC, pp. 310-11; Cranfield, ICC, vol. 2 pp. 545-46; Billerbeck vol. 3 p. 288) list lots of others, including examples from Philo and from ancient citations of Homer (e.g. εν νεκυια--cf. my "in the catalog of ships" above). They also point out that the same usage is common in Hebrew in the Rabbinic literature. There's even an instance in the Song of Songs Midrash 1:6 (88a) where "in Elijah" (bʾlyhw) introduces a reference to the very passage cited by Paul here.

Interesting. Do you mind posting those two instances from Justin and the Song of Songs Midrash? I don't know where to get them. Thanks!
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Re: To or about?

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » November 22nd, 2012, 11:08 pm

Here's the Shir HaShirim Rabbah reference (in Soncino's translation it's 1:38):
ודכוותיה כתיב באליהו שנאמר (מלכים א יט) ויאמר קנא קנאתי לה' אלהי ישראל כי עזבו בריתך בני ישראל


Soncino's rendering is "It is said of Elijah," although "in Elijah" seems more likely.
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Re: To or about?

Postby Evan Blackmore » November 23rd, 2012, 1:15 am

And here's the passage from Justin (Dialogue 120:3):

φησὶ γοῦν καὶ ἐν τῷ Ἰούδᾳ· Οὐκ ἐκλείψει ἄρχων ἐξ Ἰούδα καὶ ἡγούμενος ἐκ τῶν μηρῶν αὐτοῦ, ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ ᾧ ἀπόκειται· καὶ αὐτὸς ἔσται προσδοκία ἐθνῶν


Whatever the exact meaning of ἐν + designation-of-content, it's evident that it was a customary usage in a wide range of Greek (and Semitic) communities.
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Re: To or about?

Postby Stephen Carlson » November 23rd, 2012, 2:39 am

David Lim wrote:Interesting. Do you mind posting those two instances from Justin and the Song of Songs Midrash? I don't know where to get them. Thanks!


A Greek text of Justin can be found here: http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/books/just ... olog1g.htm
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: To or about?

Postby Iver Larsen » November 23rd, 2012, 4:56 am

Stephen,

Do you know which font is used at that link? I cannot read it in my browser. Also it seems to end at capter 68.

These examples have the definite article except if the name is also the name of the book like David. The article is not present in Rom 11:2 and Elijah is not the name of a book/scroll. This bothers me.
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