Acts 15:20 The extent of ἀπὸ / ἀλισγημάτων

Forum rules
Please quote the Greek text you are discussing directly in your post if it is reasonably short - do not ask people to look it up. This is not a beginner's forum, competence in Greek is assumed.
Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Acts 15:20 The extent of ἀπὸ / ἀλισγημάτων

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 9th, 2014, 5:40 am

Acts 15:20 wrote:ἀλλὰ ἐπιστεῖλαι αὐτοῖς τοῦ ἀπέχεσθαι ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλισγημάτων τῶν εἰδώλων καὶ τῆς πορνείας καὶ τοῦ πνικτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος.
Are the genitives in red following the preposition ἀπὸ or the noun ἀλισγημάτων?

"But command them to stay away from the pollution of idols, (from) sexual misconduct, (from) strangled animals and from food with blood in it." [Or a hendiadys of the last two] OR
But command them to keep away from the polution of idols, of sexual misconduct, of strangled animals and of food with blood in it." [Or a hendiadys of the last two].

In other words, can only Idols be an ἀλίσγημα, or can all four be?
0 x


Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

cwconrad
Posts: 2110
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714
Contact:

Re: Acts 15:20 The extent of ἀπὸ / ἀλισγημάτων

Post by cwconrad » July 9th, 2014, 6:37 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Acts 15:20 wrote:ἀλλὰ ἐπιστεῖλαι αὐτοῖς τοῦ ἀπέχεσθαι ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλισγημάτων τῶν εἰδώλων καὶ τῆς πορνείας καὶ τοῦ πνικτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος.
Are the genitives in red following the preposition ἀπὸ or the noun ἀλισγημάτων?

"But command them to stay away from the pollution of idols, (from) sexual misconduct, (from) strangled animals and from food with blood in it." [Or a hendiadys of the last two] OR
But command them to keep away from the polution of idols, of sexual misconduct, of strangled animals and of food with blood in it." [Or a hendiadys of the last two].

In other words, can only Idols be an ἀλίσγημα, or can all four be?
I had read somewhere -- and can't recall where now -- that there are four kinds of impurities from which the rabbis insisted that Gentiles should abstain if they were to associate with Jews. If that's the case, then τῶν εἰδώλων καὶ τῆς πορνείας καὶ τοῦ πνικτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος
all are dependent on τῶν ἀλισγημάτων
0 x
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1582
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Acts 15:20 The extent of ἀπὸ / ἀλισγημάτων

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 10th, 2014, 6:32 am

I have always taken τῶν εἰδώλων as dependent on τῶν ἀλισγημάτων, and, because of the repetition of καί and the definite articles, the rest of the genitives as the objects of the preposition. I spot checked the ESV and the NAS and they take it similarly.
0 x
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε· πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Acts 15:20 The extent of ἀπὸ / ἀλισγημάτων

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 10th, 2014, 8:14 am

I think that ἀπέχεσθαι (+gen.) is okay by itself and there would be meaning if the ἀπὸ weren't there. The present choice between the two ways of taking it would be there too.

The ἀπὸ is not present in the NA-UBS text. My suspicion is that the ἀπὸ has been added to clarify which of the two alternative structures should be taken.

The actual letter written does not contain the qulification of ἀλισγημάτων and the ἀπὸ has not been written there.
Acts 15:29 wrote:ἀπέχεσθαι εἰδωλοθύτων καὶ αἵματος καὶ πνικτοῦ καὶ πορνείας· ἐξ ὧν διατηροῦντες ἑαυτούς, εὖ πράξετε. Ἔρρωσθε.
That lends weight to the claim that Carl has related from the unspecified source.
Barry Hofstetter wrote: I spot checked the ESV and the NAS and they take it similarly.
Acts 15:20 ESV wrote:but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.
Acts 15:20 NAS wrote:but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.
Noting that ἀλισγημάτων "pollutions". Though it is very possible that each of the following 4 things could be pollutions severally, it could also be in the plural because εἰδωλοθύτων is plural.

On the weight of evidence from English translations, I would guess that adding the ἀπὸ has the effect of making it clear that each of the four things relate to the ἀπέχεσθαι, whereas without that ἀπὸ it could be ambiguous.
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1582
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Acts 15:20 The extent of ἀπὸ / ἀλισγημάτων

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 10th, 2014, 12:47 pm

I didn't even notice that απο was missing from the SBL text (which is what I'm usually reading these days) as well. I don't think it changes much, though, since the issue remains substantially the same.
0 x
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε· πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Acts 15:20 The extent of ἀπὸ / ἀλισγημάτων

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 10th, 2014, 2:47 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:I don't think it changes much, though, since the issue remains substantially the same.
Could you give me a reference to a grammar to explain your reliance on the repitition of the articles?
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

David Lim
Posts: 901
Joined: June 6th, 2011, 6:55 am

Re: Acts 15:20 The extent of ἀπὸ / ἀλισγημάτων

Post by David Lim » July 11th, 2014, 2:43 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:I have always taken τῶν εἰδώλων as dependent on τῶν ἀλισγημάτων, and, because of the repetition of καί and the definite articles, the rest of the genitives as the objects of the preposition. I spot checked the ESV and the NAS and they take it similarly.
Like Stephen Hughes, I'm not quite convinced that the presence or absence of the articles make any difference, especially given Acts 15:29 that he mentioned, and "των αλισγηματων". For whatever it is worth, I found http://www.mjstudies.com/storage/Mark%207.19b.pdf, which states "four pollutions" on page 10, however it makes some very strange claims, such as that "πορνεια" has to do with ritual impurity, and that both pericopes for Mark 7:19 and Rom 14:20 employ the use of the Greek term "κοινος" ('common,clean') ["κοινος" is supposed to refer to "unclean", not "clean"!].
Stephen Hughes wrote:On the weight of evidence from English translations, I would guess that adding the ἀπὸ has the effect of making it clear that each of the four things relate to the ἀπέχεσθαι, whereas without that ἀπὸ it could be ambiguous.
And I also don't see why the preposition removes the ambiguity, since the four phrases could still be tied to "αλισγηματων".

Unfortunately a rudimentary search of the LXX+NT only turns up 4 lonely examples with multiple genitive phrases, each with the article, modifying a genitive phrase:
[1 Chr 24:6] και εγραψεν αυτους σαμαιας υιος ναθαναηλ ο γραμματευς εκ του λευι κατεναντι του βασιλεως και των αρχοντων και σαδωκ ο ιερευς και αχιμελεχ υιος αβιαθαρ και αρχοντες των πατριων των ιερεων και των λευιτων οικου πατριας εις εις τω ελεαζαρ και εις εις τω ιθαμαρ
[1 Chr 24:31] και ελαβον και αυτοι κληρους καθως οι αδελφοι αυτων υιοι ααρων εναντιον του βασιλεως και σαδωκ και αχιμελεχ και αρχοντων πατριων των ιερεων και των λευιτων πατριαρχαι αρααβ καθως οι αδελφοι αυτου οι νεωτεροι
[1 Chr 28:13] και των καταλυματων των εφημεριων των ιερεων και των λευιτων εις πασαν εργασιαν λειτουργιας οικου κυριου και των αποθηκων των λειτουργησιμων σκευων της λατρειας οικου κυριου
[Ezra 8:29] αγρυπνειτε και τηρειτε εως στητε ενωπιον αρχοντων των ιερεων και των λευιτων και των αρχοντων των πατριων εν ιερουσαλημ εις σκηνας οικου κυριου
It doesn't really help that all of them involve the same two groups, "the priests and the Levites", which are so closely related. However, the last example shows that the preposition "ενωπιον" does not cause the inner phrases to split into "αρχοντων των ιερεων" and "των λευιτων".

I'm sure that someone with better software and tagged texts can produce more stuff for us to chew on. :)
0 x
δαυιδ λιμ

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1582
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Acts 15:20 The extent of ἀπὸ / ἀλισγημάτων

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 11th, 2014, 7:35 am

Well, I note that F.F. Bruce and Culy & Parsons (Acts: A Handbook on the Greek Text), simply assume that 4 discrete items are being discussed, with no hint to the contrary (i.e., that the genitives following the καί's are dependent genitives with τῶν ἀλισγημάτων) as did every translation and commentary that I checked. Now, my question here is this: if you want to make the remaining 3 genitives objective complements discrete from τῶν ἀλισγημάτων τῶν εἰδώλων, how would you write it? How would it look different from what Luke wrote?
0 x
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε· πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re-emphasising Luke's Greek in Acts 15:20

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 11th, 2014, 8:21 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:Well, I note that F.F. Bruce and Culy & Parsons (Acts: A Handbook on the Greek Text), simply assume that 4 discrete items are being discussed, with no hint to the contrary (i.e., that the genitives following the καί's are dependent genitives with τῶν ἀλισγημάτων) as did every translation and commentary that I checked. Now, my question here is this: if you want to make the remaining 3 genitives objective complements discrete from τῶν ἀλισγημάτων τῶν εἰδώλων, how would you write it? How would it look different from what Luke wrote?
I would explicate either way as:
Acts 15:20 Byz, explicating there are 4 defilements wrote:ἀλλὰ ἐπιστεῖλαι αὐτοῖς τοῦ ἀπέχεσθαι ἀπὸ τῶν [τεσσάρων] ἀλισγημάτων ὄντων [καὶ] τῶν εἰδώλων καὶ τῆς πορνείας καὶ τοῦ πνικτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος.
Acts 15:20, making it clear that [b][i]all[/i][/b] four things shuld be avoided wrote:ἀλλὰ ἐπιστεῖλαι αὐτοῖς τοῦ ἀπέχεσθαι [οὐ μόνον] τοῦ τῶν εἰδώλων ἀλισγήματος [ἀλλὰ] καὶ τῆς πορνείας καὶ τοῦ πνικτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος.
I would lose the ἀπὸ in the second for syntactic reasons if the other words were to be added - rather than repeat it four times (three times if the third and fourth were considered a hendiadys). I think the nesting of the genitive is not so important as to be needed.
Stephen Hughes wrote:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:I don't think it changes much, though, since the issue remains substantially the same.
Could you give me a reference to a grammar to explain your reliance on the repitition of the articles?
David Lim wrote:Like Stephen Hughes, I'm not quite convinced that the presence or absence of the articles make any difference, especially given Acts 15:29 that he mentioned, and "των αλισγηματων".
My mood is even on this point. I was not making a challenge for proof. I was making a genuine request for information that could lead to a learning opportunity. Intelligent people that Barry knows of may have something worthwhile to say on this.
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Can ritual impurity include πορνεία?

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 12th, 2014, 3:14 pm

David Lim wrote:For whatever it is worth, I found http://www.mjstudies.com/storage/Mark%207.19b.pdf, which states "four pollutions" on page 10, however it makes some very strange claims, such as that "πορνεια" has to do with ritual impurity, ...
The URL that you mean to refer to is http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/2002-4_291.pdf . The detail that you are referring to is on the 10th page of the article, which is numbered as page 300 in the work.

David I admire your astuteness :ugeek: in noticing that "ritual impurity" includes πορνεία in the reasoning of that article. I don't, however, find it "strange" that πορνεία would be used of ritual defilement / impurity in a very early Christian reference.

The cultus of the early Christians was to some extent a derivative of the Jewish forms of worship. I also think that the word πορνεία, should be given a broader, more general rendering of "sexual misconduct", which would include both the timing and usage of the marital act as well illicit acts. There are many canons of the early church that address these things in detail.

What makes this concept of ἀλισγήματα both interesting and at the same time unaccessible for me (at least) is that its thinking predates the struggles with Gnosticism and Valentinianism in the 2nd and later centuries that have shaped to a large degree what it means to think like a christian. It seems that during those later disputes, centring on the nature of the Incarnation there was a rejection by "orthodox" christianity of the anti-cosmic duality of the material and spiritual worlds. This earlier period where eating a certain type of food could make one feel a barrier between himself and God was to some extent swept under the carpet. It is interesting and enlightening to read this article that Carl and David have referred to. As a matter of opinion, I think that the translation / understanding that we see in the English translations is a true reflection of the later Christian understanding of this verse (post age of heresies), but not of the understanding that it had at the time it was written (age of interaction / coexistence / tension with Judaism).

To consider the broader context of "pollution", the only other place it seems that a cognate word - ἀλισγεῖν "to pollute" is used is in
Daniel 1:8 wrote:καὶ ἐνεθυμήθη Δανιηλ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὅπως μὴ ἀλισγηθῇ ἐν τῷ δείπνῳ τοῦ βασιλέως καὶ ἐν ᾧ πίνει οἴνῳ καὶ ἠξίωσε τὸν ἀρχιευνοῦχον ἵνα μὴ συμμολυνθῇ
And Daniel resolved in (his) heart that he would not be polluted by the meal (provided for) by the king and (nor) by the wine (so provided) and he asked the leader of the eunuchs to not be defiled (be able to not bread Jewish dietary requirements (Kashrut), specifically in this case, to be able to eat (ὄσπρια) legumes).
Consider also, this verse, which spells out very clearly the need for ritual purity from sexual intercourse.
1 Kings 21:5-7 (LXX) (=1 Samuel 21:4-6) wrote:5 καὶ ἀπεκρίθη ὁ ἱερεὺς τῷ Δαυιδ καὶ εἶπεν οὐκ εἰσὶν ἄρτοι βέβηλοι ὑπὸ τὴν χεῖρά μου ὅτι ἀλλ’ ἢ ἄρτοι ἅγιοι εἰσίν εἰ πεφυλαγμένα τὰ παιδάριά ἐστιν ἀπὸ γυναικός καὶ φάγεται. 6 καὶ ἀπεκρίθη Δαυιδ τῷ ἱερεῖ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ἀλλὰ ἀπὸ γυναικὸς ἀπεσχήμεθα ἐχθὲς καὶ τρίτην ἡμέραν ἐν τῷ ἐξελθεῖν με εἰς ὁδὸν γέγονε πάντα τὰ παιδάρια ἡγνισμένα καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ ὁδὸς βέβηλος διότι ἁγιασθήσεται σήμερον διὰ τὰ σκεύη μου. 7 καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ Αβιμελεχ ὁ ἱερεὺς τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως ὅτι οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἄρτος ὅτι ἀλλ’ ἢ ἄρτοι τοῦ προσώπου οἱ ἀφῃρημένοι ἐκ προσώπου κυρίου παρατεθῆναι ἄρτον θερμὸν ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ ἔλαβεν αὐτούς.
I have quoted it in the Greek, because the number of days (three) are not mentioned in the English translations based on the Masora text of the OT. Ritual as a rhythm of life that requires changes to our good and regular rhythm of life is a way to let us realise that there is more to our lives than the daily rat race.

In other words, I don't find this to be a "very strange claim ..."
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Post Reply

Return to “New Testament”