Elision in Life

Other Greek writings of the New Testament era, including papyri and inscriptions
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Daniel Semler
Posts: 114
Joined: February 18th, 2019, 7:45 pm

Elision in Life

Post by Daniel Semler » June 19th, 2019, 10:42 am

Hi ya

In this from Jospehus' Life :
ἔφην δ᾿ ἐγὼ πρὸς τὸ πλῆθος τὰ γράμματα λαβεῖν δόντων ἑκουσίως τῶν κομιζόντων· οὐ γὰρ ἐβουλόμην αὐτοὺς τὰ περὶ τὰς φρουρὰς τοὺς ἐναντίους εἰδέναι, μὴ δείσαντες τοῦ γράφειν ἀποστῶσιν.”
(Life 1:261 JOSEPH-T)
https://accordance.bible/link/read/JOSEPH-T#Life_261
in particular the bit in bold it seems to be a compressed syntax to express the thought that J received the letters from those carrying them, who handed them over willingly. What it says seems clear enough but how it came to be serialized in this manner interests me. I have yet to commence in earnest my study of composition (have been delayed alas by other things) but there is no relative pronoun in the δόντων ἑκουσίως τῶν κομιζόντων clause indicating the the letters as one would have in English. The is only an implied subject for λαβεῖν unless one accepts ἐγὼ, somewhat distant though it is, and the fact that it could be emphatically linked to ἔφην, though emphasis doesn't seem to be required here. So neglecting the usual case for an infinitive subject you could do that I suppose. Though I think I'd prefer to consider it an implied/elided accusative subject of the infinitive really.

Anyhow what question am I asking ? Not sure really. J seems to elide a fair amount and I suspect that's just how Greek is and if it's still intelligible that's fine. It has struck me more and more lately, as I read Life, that Greek elides and relies more heavily on retention of context by the reader than perhaps written English tends to. Or perhaps better put, that it does so without the explicit markers that English employs. And there are many more cases, and more difficult ones in Life than this. This happens to be a handy example.

Thoughts, comments ?

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

Re: Elision in Life

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 19th, 2019, 4:01 pm

I think this is a genitive absolute, lit.

ἔφην δʼ ἐγὼ πρὸς τὸ πλῆθος τὰ γράμματα λαβεῖν δόντων ἑκουσίως τῶν κομιζόντων...

"With those who carried (them) giving them willingly, I told the crowd that I received the letters..."

Or it could be a genitive of separation of sorts, "I told the crowd that I received the letters from those carrying them, who gave them willingly." But I could see no parallel examples using λαμβάνω.

At any rate, the syntax is very compressed.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Daniel Semler
Posts: 114
Joined: February 18th, 2019, 7:45 pm

Re: Elision in Life

Post by Daniel Semler » June 20th, 2019, 10:23 am

Thanx for this Barry.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
June 19th, 2019, 4:01 pm
I think this is a genitive absolute, lit.

ἔφην δʼ ἐγὼ πρὸς τὸ πλῆθος τὰ γράμματα λαβεῖν δόντων ἑκουσίως τῶν κομιζόντων...

"With those who carried (them) giving them willingly, I told the crowd that I received the letters..."
If you mean by "with" that the letter carriers are present standing with him, that isn't the case in this text. Earlier in the narrative it is stated that they are held captive elsewhere. I looked up the gen abs again, I had not considered it here until you suggested it, and I'm not sure that it applies here, given the contextual info. So I went over a bunch of categories of participial use in Wallace and I'm not really finding a match for this usage. That said, this could be more a classical usage than an NT one.

Your second option seems to better capture what I think it means - oh hang on ... I might better understand this second option now, if one takes τῶν κομιζόντων as the gen of sep (not quite but close, fair enough - perhaps genitive of agency) and the δόντων ἑκουσίως as adjunct to it. And then that, combined with compressed syntax. I'll have to keep an eye out for infinitives with supporting genitive participle constructions or do a search for such.

Thanx
D
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Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1582
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Re: Elision in Life

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 20th, 2019, 11:41 am

Daniel Semler wrote:
June 20th, 2019, 10:23 am
Thanx for this Barry.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
June 19th, 2019, 4:01 pm
I think this is a genitive absolute, lit.

ἔφην δʼ ἐγὼ πρὸς τὸ πλῆθος τὰ γράμματα λαβεῖν δόντων ἑκουσίως τῶν κομιζόντων...

"With those who carried (them) giving them willingly, I told the crowd that I received the letters..."
If you mean by "with" that the letter carriers are present standing with him, that isn't the case in this text. Earlier in the narrative it is stated that they are held captive elsewhere. I looked up the gen abs again, I had not considered it here until you suggested it, and I'm not sure that it applies here, given the contextual info. So I went over a bunch of categories of participial use in Wallace and I'm not really finding a match for this usage. That said, this could be more a classical usage than an NT one.

Your second option seems to better capture what I think it means - oh hang on ... I might better understand this second option now, if one takes τῶν κομιζόντων as the gen of sep (not quite but close, fair enough - perhaps genitive of agency) and the δόντων ἑκουσίως as adjunct to it. And then that, combined with compressed syntax. I'll have to keep an eye out for infinitives with supporting genitive participle constructions or do a search for such.
Interesting, I've never had anybody misunderstand the "with" in the hyper-literalistic translationese that we tend to teach students in handling the GA in Greek (and the ablative absolute in Latin). The GA shows the circumstances related to the action of the main verb, and one way of expressing that in English is to turn it into a participial phrase and make it the object of "with" in English. A simpler example: τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τοῦτο εἴποντος, ἀπῆλθον, "With the man having said this, I left." Now, this is horrible English, and we use clauses or the equivalent, "When the man said this" or "Since the man said this" and a real English translation of the above certainly would do something of that nature, maybe "After those carrying the letters gave them to me willingly, I told that crowd that I had received them..." Of course δόντων is predicate to τῶν κομιζόντων.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε· πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε

Daniel Semler
Posts: 114
Joined: February 18th, 2019, 7:45 pm

Re: Elision in Life

Post by Daniel Semler » June 20th, 2019, 12:09 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
June 20th, 2019, 11:41 am
Interesting, I've never had anybody misunderstand the "with" in the hyper-literalistic translationese that we tend to teach students in handling the GA in Greek
It has often been remarked that if there is a way to misunderstand something Semler will do it :) And no, it isn't always accidental, though in this case I was just trying to be sure.

Of course in this case though it is true that the letter carriers are not present J is also lying to the crowd and he explains why in the following passage which I left unbolded in the OP.

But the real issue here is whether having received the letters from the carriers willingly he is then telling the crowd that he received the letters, OR, is he telling the crowd that he received the letters from the carriers voluntarily rather than having his guards on the roads arrest the carriers and take the letters from them, which is what actually happened. Is the voluntary handing over part of the deception or not ? Would this contextual piece of information argue for or against this being a GA ?

Thx
D
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