Use of the dative τῷ διαβόλῳ in Matthew 25:41

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Use of the dative τῷ διαβόλῳ in Matthew 25:41

Post by Barry Hofstetter » May 4th, 2018, 11:23 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 10:37 pm
In my opinion the dative of agent is indeed a nonentity, except when used with a perfect passive, which is what we happen to have here.
Yes, quite rare, even in Attic Greek.
I read the OP's question the same and I have to balk at the notion about asking whether an interpretation of a particular text is "grammatically possible" because the question is asking about what the text could mean in isolation, but the text does not occur in isolation but in context. As a general matter, lots of interpretations are "grammatical possible," even weird ones, as long as there is contextual support for it.
Since authors actually write to communicate, and want their readers to understand, context usually provides sufficient clarification. They tend to avoid "weird" constructions (but not always, calling as witness the book of Revelation). Yes, there are contexts in which true ambiguity occurs, but those are relatively rare. What happens too often in biblical interpretation is theological motivation to read the text a particular way.
In this case here, the contextual support for disambiguating the dative is almost entirely theological: how first-century Jews understood who prepared the eternal fire. The text is not teaching new concepts about the eternal fire but presupposing them. Answering the interpretative question as a result cannot avoid the (first-century) theology.
I'm not sure I agree, which is why I cited BDAG above to demonstrate the normal usage of ἐτοιμάζω with the dative. I think knowing the first century background is helpful, but not absolutely necessary.

Now, being a Latin language sort of person, I wondered how Jerome rendered this:

qui paratus est diabolo et angelis eius...

Now, agency in Latin is practically always expressed by the preposition ā/ab + ablative. Like Greek, there is a dative of agent, but also like Greek it's restricted to one context, when used with the passive periphrastic (don't ask). Diabolo and angelis could be either ablative or dative, but paro (paratus) often takes a dative just like its Greek counterpart, and if Jerome had intended agency, he would have written ā diabolō et angelīs. Jerome therefore understands the text as using a dative of reference with the verb, as has just about everyone else in the history of interpretation.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Use of the dative τῷ διαβόλῳ in Matthew 25:41

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 7th, 2018, 9:50 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 11:23 pm
I'm not sure I agree, which is why I cited BDAG above to demonstrate the normal usage of ἐτοιμάζω with the dative. I think knowing the first century background is helpful, but not absolutely necessary.
Thanks for your comments. THe BDAG cite is helpful, but what's really needed is a study of this verb in the perfect passive, otherwise the dative of agent won't even come up.

In this forum, we do try to distinguish between theological arguments and grammatical arguments, and based on the rules of the forum we ground our discussions in the latter. Fine, but this distinction is artificial. Evidence is evidence. First-century readers on the other hand made used of the full-range of relevant evidence, including theological, for their interpretations. Occasionally theology is the most relevant disambiguator on a point, as I think it is the case here since Jesus is appealing to an already known theology concept. I realize this could be frustrating to someone making a novel or unusual theological point, but focusing only on a portion of the evidence may not be sufficient to come to a sound judgment. All we get are various grammatical possibilities which much evaluated in line with the background theology (which we are not supposed to discuss).
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Re: Use of the dative τῷ διαβόλῳ in Matthew 25:41

Post by Ken M. Penner » May 7th, 2018, 12:06 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 9:50 am
Jesus is appealing to an already known theology concept.
I am writing an article on the Tree of Life in Enochic Literature, and as it happens I just read a similar phrase in 2 Enoch 10:4, which is not dependent on Matthew 25: "This place, Enoch, has been prepared for those who do not glorify God ..." Too bad we don't have the Greek original of this possibly 1st century composition.
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Ken M. Penner
St. Francis Xavier University

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