Temporal Dative in John 2:20

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Temporal Dative in John 2:20

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 4th, 2012, 9:39 pm

John 2:20 wrote:εἶπαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι · τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν οἰκοδομήθη ὁ ναὸς οὗτος, καὶ σὺ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερεῖς;


What's the meaning of the temporal dative τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν in John 2:20?

Translations seem to be all over the map. The NRSV and NET have "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years," while the RSV, NASB, NIV, and ESV have "It has taken (or took) forty-six years to build this temple." The ESV also has a note suggesting "This temple was built forty-six years ago" -- which Wallace's grammar defends.
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Re: Temporal Dative in John 2:20

Postby Louis L Sorenson » December 4th, 2012, 11:22 pm

It could be for several reasons. I have not checked Robertson or BDB. The structure of the two sentences are not parallel. Here are my guesses and I suppose there could be more reasons:

(1) Option 1
Perhaps a missing ἐν dropped out because the forty-six years was fronted?
[ἐν] τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν οἰκοδομήθη ὁ ναὸς οὗτος:
καὶ σὺ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερεῖς;

But note Smyth §1542

ἐν is added:

a. To words denoting time when there is no attributive: ἐν τῷ χειμῶνι in winter X. O. 17.3; cp. cross1444. b. When the attributive is a pronoun (sometimes): (ἐν) ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ. c. To statements of the time within the limits of which an event may take place (where ἐντός with the genitive is common); to statements of how much time anything takes; with numbers, ὀλίγος, πολύς, etc. Thus, ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις for (during) three days X. A. 4.8.8, οὐ ῥᾴδιον τὰ ἐν ἅπαντι τῷ χρόνῳ πρα_χθέντα ἐν μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳ δηλωθῆναι it is not easy to set forth in a single day the acts of all time L. 2.54, ἐξελέσθαι τὴν διαβολὴν ἐν οὕτως ὀλίγῳ χρόνῳ to clear myself of calumny in so brief a time P. A. 19a. ἐν is rarely omitted in prose, and chiefly when there is an attributive: μιᾷ νυκτὶ T. 6.27. d. Always with adjectives or adverbs used substantively: ἐν τῷ παρόντι, ἐν τῷ τότε. e. To words denoting the date of an event, not a point of time: ἐν τῇ προτέρᾳ πρεσβείᾳ in the first embassy Aes. 2.123. Thuc. employs ἐν, as ἐν τῇ ὑστεραίᾳ ἐκκλησίᾳ in the assembly held the day after 1. 44, but usu. the simple dative, as μάχῃ in the battle 3. 54, ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἐσβολῇ in that incursion 2. 20, τῇ προτέρᾳ ἐκκλησίᾳ in the first assembly 1. 44.


(2) Option 2
Or an unwritten implied participle? τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν [παραγαγουσι] οἰκοδομήθη. cf.Smyth §1498:

Dative of the Participle expressing Time.—In expressions of time a participle is often used with the dative of the person interested in the action of the subject, and especially to express the time that has passed since an action has occurred (cp. “and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren” St. Luke i. cross36).

ἀποροῦντι δ' αὐτῷ ἔρχεται Προμηθεύς Prometheus comes to him in his perplexity P. Pr. 321c, Ξενοφῶντι πορευομένῳ οἱ ἱππεῖς ἐντυγχάνουσι πρεσβύ_ταις while Xenophon was on the march, his horsemen fell in with some old men X. A. 6.3.10. The idiom is often transferred from persons to things: ἡμέραι μάλιστα ἦσαν τῇ Μυτιλήνῃ ἑα_λωκυίᾳ ἑπτά, ὅτ' ἐς τὸ Ἔμβατον κατέπλευσαν about seven days had passed since the capture of Mytilene, when they sailed into Embatum T. 3.29. This construction is frequent in Hom. and Hdt. The participle is rarely omitted (T. 1.13.).

a. A temporal clause may take the place of the participle: τῇ στρατιᾷ, ἀφ' οὗ ἐξέπλευσεν εἰς Σικελία_ν, ἤδη ἐστὶ δύο καὶ πεντήκοντα ἔτη it is already fifty-two years since the expedition sailed to Sicily Is. 6.14.


(3) Option 3: A dative of time (past)

τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν [πάλαι] οἰκοδομήθη ὁ ναὸς οὗτος.
"forty-six years (ago) this temple was built"
Smyth §1540

The dative denotes the time at which an action takes place and the date of an event.

ταύτην μὲν τὴν ἡμέρα_ν αὐτοῦ ἔμειναν, τῇ δὲ ὑστεραίᾳ κτλ. throughout that day they waited there, but on the day following, etc. X. H. 1.1.14. So τῇ προτεραίᾳ the day before, τῇ δευτέρᾳ the second day, Ἐλαφηβολιῶνος μηνὸς ἕκτῃ (ἡμέρᾳ) φθίνοντος on the sixth of waning Elaphebolion Aes. 2.90, ἕνῃ καὶ ϝέᾳ on the last of the month D. 18.29; τρίτῳ μηνί in the third month L. 21.1, περιιόντι τῷ θέρει when summer was coming to an end T. 1.30, ἐξηκοστῷ ἔτει in the sixtieth year 1. 12; also with ὥρᾳ (χειμῶνος ὥρᾳ in the winter season And. 1.137).
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Re: Temporal Dative in John 2:20

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 5th, 2012, 11:17 am

Thanks for that, Louis. Based on the parallel contrast, I am leaning toward option 1, with the idea being that Jesus is going to rebuild in 3 days what was built in 46 years. I can't really see how the 46 years ago is supposed to work (option 2), grammatically, though there may be other (historical and terminological) reasons for it.
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Re: Temporal Dative in John 2:20

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » December 5th, 2012, 5:30 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
John 2:20 wrote:εἶπαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι · τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν οἰκοδομήθη ὁ ναὸς οὗτος, καὶ σὺ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερεῖς;


What's the meaning of the temporal dative τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν in John 2:20?

Translations seem to be all over the map. The NRSV and NET have "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years," while the RSV, NASB, NIV, and ESV have "It has taken (or took) forty-six years to build this temple." The ESV also has a note suggesting "This temple was built forty-six years ago" -- which Wallace's grammar defends.


τεσσεράκοντα is uninflected. So why are we calling it a dative?
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Re: Temporal Dative in John 2:20

Postby Evan Blackmore » December 5th, 2012, 5:52 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:I am leaning toward option 1, with the idea being that Jesus is going to rebuild in 3 days what was built in 46 years.


Barrett (p. 167) agrees: "It seems impossible to translate otherwise." His analysis is intruiging:

The dative (ἔτεσιν) is partly locative, the whole period regarded as a unit of time, and partly instrumental, time "by the lapse of which anything is brought about" (Robertson, 527, cf. 523).


This reminds me of Moulton's remark (vol. 1 p. 75) that "the common locative dative of time (point of time)" and the "instrumental dative of extension in time" are "not always easy to distinguish."

It may be relevant to note that copyists varied considerably regarding insertion/omission of ἐν in such passages. In this very passage we have two instances of ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις (vv. 19-20); B omits ἐν the first time, and א omits it the second time. In some other passages the manuscripts are almost evenly balanced. Some of the variations may be merely errors of the eye, but others give the impression that different copyists felt ἐν to be required or not required in different contexts.

I also wonder whether the omission of ἐν may add emphasis to τεσσαράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν, "taking what was already the most important part of a clause and placing it in a position of prominence in order to attract even more attention to it" (Runge p. 269). (Runge is talking only about shifts of word-order, but of course the same principle can apply also to the omission of just-omittable words.)
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Re: Temporal Dative in John 2:20

Postby David Lim » December 5th, 2012, 9:56 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:τεσσεράκοντα is uninflected. So why are we calling it a dative?

"ἔτεσιν" is dative, so Stephen is referring to the whole "τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν" as dative.
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Re: Temporal Dative in John 2:20

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » December 6th, 2012, 1:08 am

David Lim wrote:
Stirling Bartholomew wrote:τεσσεράκοντα is uninflected. So why are we calling it a dative?

"ἔτεσιν" is dative, so Stephen is referring to the whole "τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν" as dative.

Thanks David,

It helps to read the passage. :) I was seeing ἔτεσιν as ἐστιν.
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