.Mt 5:3 Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι,
ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν
My interpretative maxim:
Paraphasing this to suit the context: "Any interpretation is possible, but not every interpretation makes sense; any interpretation is possible, but not every interpretation construes."1 Cor 10:23 Πάντα ἔξεστιν ἀλλ᾿ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει· πάντα ἔξεστιν ἀλλ᾿ οὐ πάντα οἰκοδομεῖ.
I have been utterly astounded to follow this picaresque thread, wondering repeatedly how it got to this point and where in the world it is headed.
Although attention has frequently been called during the course of the thread to the importance of context, much of the discussion has focused upon the clause “Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι” viewed quite apart from its context. I don’t quite understand why it should be thought that there’s some value in examining the clause outside of any context — especially when the context in which it appears is replete with several exemplars of the clause-initial μακάριοι with ellipsis of εἰσὶν and a subject in the form of an article and a substantival element, the whole sequence ending with μακάριοί ἐστε, ὁτάν … The pattern is one of the most common of all in Greek: predicate word + copula (often elliptical, as here) + subject. Also ignored in the speculation is the improbability of construal of τῷ πνεύματι with the clause-opening μακάριοι; we should certainly in ordinary circumstances assume that τῷ πνεύματι construes with οἱ πτωχοί which constitutes the subject of μακάριοι. That is to say, the construction of this clause ought, I honestly believe, to be recognized by a reader of Greek who has read more than a score of chapters of the GNT, as a standard structural pattern of Greek expository prose.
Once opened up for speculative interpretation apart from its context, the thread has taken several tacks in its leisurely drift out into the lagoon. μακάριοι may perhaps be a verb instead of an adjective — it may imply μακαρίζονται. If that’s permissible, then τῷ πνεύματι might be an instrument or agent (the latter much more likely with a perfect or aorist verb form — or with a verbal adjective such as μακαριστέον — but that, as Stephen Carlson notes, is a Classical construction, not so common in Koine Greek). If τῷ πνεύματι is an instrumental dative to be construed with μακάριοι viewed as verbal, that’s problematic because it implies that τὸ πνεῦμα is inanimate. But that too may be based upon a questionable assumption that “spirit” must be a “person”. Gender gets us nowhere toward demonstrating that assumption: the noun πνεῦμα is neuter (and may just as well mean “wind” or “breath” as “spirit”); claims that παρακλῆτος is used with masculine pronouns and must be personal reduce to a matter of gender of nouns and grammatical agreement with the gender of nouns.
It would make far more sense to explore the collocation of πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι in this clause. In doing so, one ought perhaps to consider at the same time the Lucan parallel to this verse:
Luke 6:20 … Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοί, ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ
and perhaps also to consider the range of usage and reference for the word πτωχός in the GNT. That, however, would go far beyond the grammatical construction and deep into the semantics of the phrase οἱ πτωχοί in the gospels and in early church history, which is to say, far beyond the proper focus of B-Greek discussion.