Rev 4.2 καθημένος - awkward construction?

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Louis L Sorenson
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Rev 4.2 καθημένος - awkward construction?

Post by Louis L Sorenson » May 9th, 2011, 10:57 pm

I've read Revelation chapters 4-5 a number of times in the last few weeks. I know the book of Revelation is known for its ungrammatical structures (either purposely or non-purposely). When I read Rev 4.2-3, the last word in verse two, καθήμενος, "sitting" strikes me as odd. The phrase I wonder about is "καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον καθήμενος,"
Εὐθέως ἐγενόμην ἐν πνεύματι, καὶ ἰδοὺ θρόνος ἔκειτο ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον καθήμενος, 3 καὶ ὁ καθήμενος ὅμοιος ὁράσει λίθῳ ἰάσπιδι καὶ σαρδίῳ, καὶ ἶρις κυκλόθεν τοῦ θρόνου ὅμοιος ὁράσει σμαραγδίνῳ.
Is this an example of anacolouthon (breaking off of thought/sentence and starting a new one)? or are there words which are not written but implied (term?) ? Or is this perfectly normal Greek?

It seems like the phrase , καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον καθήμενος, is couching the words [ἦν τις] , καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον καθήμενος [ἦν τις]. 'someone was sitting'. It's almost like καθήμενος is an anarthrous noun like ἄνθρωπος. Are there any other instances of participles being used like this? Are participles (indefinite participles) usually accompanied by τις, δεινος, or some other qualifier when they are anarthrous?

I read a fair amount of Greek. Is this an awkward construction? A.T. Robertson does not mention it. I don't have access to a lot of commentaries on Revelation. But the construction just seems a little odd.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Rev 4.2 καθημένος - awkward construction?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » May 10th, 2011, 6:40 am

"Go not to Revelation for grammar, young man!" But while I would be hard pressed to find a classical author or even another Koine writer expressing it this way, I think what we have with καθήμενος in 4:2 is an anarthrous substantive, with an appropriate verb to be supplied from context, κεῖται or καθίζεται or even as you suggest ἦν. However, even if we leave the verb out in English, as does the Greek, it makes perfect sense, "and one sitting on the throne. And the one sitting is like..." the articular ὁ καθήμενος then specifying who it is who sits in terms of the following description.

Barry
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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cwconrad
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Re: Rev 4.2 καθημένος - awkward construction?

Post by cwconrad » May 10th, 2011, 6:53 am

Well, most of the solecisms in Revelation (which constructions, as has been noted, some people think were deliberately employed) are indeed intelligible as is this anarthrous participle used as a substantive. I think I would agree with Barry here, perhaps even go a bit farther and say that anyone with a solid year of Biblical Greek should expect Revelation to be relatively easy reading, but reading that will nevertheless jar the reader repeatedly with unexpected locutions, rather like an older man or woman listening to teenagers in conversation and wondering if this is the same language.
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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)

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Rev 4.2 καθημένος - awkward construction?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » May 10th, 2011, 11:51 am

Carl, that's a really good analogy. I remember back in graduate school taking a seminar in Greek orators, reading folks like Isocrates and Demosthenes. For a research project on persecution in the ancient church I sat down to read Revelation, and was shocked at the strangeness of the Greek. I remember thinking "I wonder if this is how educated folks in the ancient world would have viewed this text?" :shock:
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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refe
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Re: Rev 4.2 καθημένος - awkward construction?

Post by refe » June 6th, 2011, 11:10 am

I've heard it said that Revelation makes perfect sense unless you try to make it make perfect sense. ;) I think that goes for both the Greek and the book itself!
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Jason Hare
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Re: Rev 4.2 καθημένος - awkward construction?

Post by Jason Hare » June 6th, 2011, 6:18 pm

refe wrote:I've heard it said that Revelation makes perfect sense unless you try to make it make perfect sense. ;) I think that goes for both the Greek and the book itself!
Strangely, the Revelation makes better sense in hyperliteral translation into Hebrew. ;) LOL

Jason
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Jason A. Hare
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Steven Jensen
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Re: Rev 4.2 καθημένος - awkward construction?

Post by Steven Jensen » April 23rd, 2014, 6:53 pm

I was currently working on translating chapter 4 of Revelation for class, when I came across what seems to be this awkward construction. However My Greek class uses "Basics of Biblical Greek" written by William D. Mounce, as it's text book, in which I recently had to check something similar. I don't think that is should be counted as awkward, or weird, just not normal. It is however more normal than one might think. For me what seemed odd was not the needing of "someone" but the absence of the article as found in verse 4. the result would be one is sitting; the one who is setting; something of this nature, as the participle is functioning substantial. This usually has the presence of the article as in verse 4. typically without the article we would not translate the participle adjectival but adverbially(key words being while, after, had, depending on the tense.) on Page 272 Mounce makes it clear that in most cases we can determine if it is adverbial or adjectival by the presence of the article, however not always. context becomes the end factor, because not always will there be an article for the use of adjectival. It seems here the absence, only my speculation, is due to the prepositional phrase. With the same word being used in the next verse with the articular it is fairly clear that it should be translated adjectival; one is sitting, or the one who is sitting.

I hope this is helpful.

Steven Jensen
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