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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

II Tim 2:15 Postscript

In a comment on my last ὁρθοτομέω post, Lingamish asked about the syntax of the whole of II Tim. 2:15. I had focused so much on ὁρθοτομέω, that I hadn't read back more than to recognize that ὁρθοτομέω was a participle being functioning as a subject relative clause. (Sorry for the linguist-speak. An explanation is at the end of this post.)

What hadn't struck me is how parallel II Tim. 2:15 is to Rom. 12:1. (Read it in translation, and you have no idea.) Maybe this is old news to you all. Maybe they tell you this stuff in seminary, or some commentary from the 1800's has made this old news, but it took me by surprise.
Rom 12:1 παρακαλω ουν υμας... παραστησαι τα σωματα υμων θυσιαν ζωσαν αγιαν ευαρεστον τω θεω

II Tim. 2:15 σπουδασον σεαυτον δοκιμον παραστησαι τω θεω εργατην ανεπαισχυντον
Match up the forms:
παρακαλω ... υμας<> σπουδασον
'I appeal to you' <> 'make an effort'

τα σωματα υμων <> σεαυτον
'your bodies' <> 'yourself'

παραστησαι [τω θεω] <> παραστησαι τω θεω
standard translations:
'present [your bodies] [to God]' <> 'show [yourself] to God'
but literally:
'cause to be present [with God]' <> 'cause to be present with God'

θυσιαν ζωσαν <> εργατην ανεπαισχυντον
'living sacrifice' <> 'unashamed worker'

αγιαν ευαρεστον τω θεω <> δοκιμον [τω θεω]
'holy, acceptable to God' <> 'acceptable [to God]'
I don't have much more to say about it. But I thought it was interesting in its own right, and worth a mention.

A brief tutorial on relative clauses

Relative clauses are chunks of sentences used to modify, i.e., identify and/or describe nouns.
the book that I left on the table
the neighbor who lives next door
In relative clauses in English the noun being modified is left out of the clause, being replaced either by who(m), which, or that which is placed as the first word in the clause.
the book that I left on the table
the neighbor who lives next door
Greek works in a parallel way. The word that substitutes for the modified noun is ος.

This is just a rough approximation. The syntax of relative clauses can be quite complex and differ dramatically from language to language. Some of the complexity is that different languages treat relative clauses differently depending on what the grammatical role of the modified noun is in the clause itself. In English, if the noun is not the subject of the clause you can omit the who(m), which, or that:
the book that I left on the table, or
the book I left on the table
but not if the noun is the subject
The neighbor who lives next door is friendly., but not
*The neighbor lives next door is friendly.
In Greek, the relative clauses based on subjects are normally given as participles instead of full fledged clauses. An example is found in Matt. 13:44:
θησαυρω [κεκρυμμενω εν τω αγρω] [ον ευρων ανθρωπος εκρυψεν]
'treasure [which was hidden in a field] [which finding a man hid]'
Actually there are two participles as subject relatives here, κεκρυμμενω and ευρων. In English we can't embed relative clauses like: *'which [which a man found] hid', hence the funny calque above. But because the modification is done with participles in Greek, there it can be easily said.

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