Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Hebrews 2:3—three prepositional phrases

Next, let's take a quick look at Hebrews 2:3. It's nestled within the wonderful (and instructive) 2:1-4. Here the author asks:
πῶς ἡμεῖς ἐκφευξόμεθα τηλικαύτης ἀμελήσαντες σωτηρίας, ἥτις ἀρχὴν λαβοῦσα λαλεῖσθαι διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκουσάντων εἰς ἡμᾶς ἐβεβαιώθη
He specifies the σωτηρία he is talking about as τηλικαύτη, then refers to its origin. Its origin reinforces its greatness, because it was first spoken (ἀρχὴν λαβοῦσα λαλεῖσθαι) by the Lord. But he does not say so quite that simply. The author's way is both terser and more elegant at the same time.

Note the three prepositional phrases he employs, bang-bang-bang. This great salvation was:
  1. First spoken διὰ τοῦ κυρίου
  2. Then confirmed ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκουσάντων
  3. εἰς ἡμᾶς
Note too how the author brackets the prepositional phrases within two verbs or verbal phrases, so that the pre-phrases are given (as I say) bang-bang-bang: ἀρχὴν λαβοῦσα λαλεῖσθαι διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκουσάντων εἰς ἡμᾶς ἐβεβαιώθη.

Over-woodenly, it would be something like this: "how shall we escape, after disregarding salvation so great as this, which having first been spoken by the Lord, unto us by those who heard was confirmed."

11 comments:

Pat Park said...

Thanks Dan for driving this first year Greek student to his Greek New Testament and BDAG, sharpening tools along the way. You're adding to my understanding of the importance of studying the languages and increasing my appetite for more.

DJP said...

Thanks, Pat, and praise God. You could hardly have more perfectly expressed one of my main goals in creating this blog.

Matt Harmon said...

Pat,

It's nice to see one of my first year students using his Greek during Spring Break. :)

DJP said...

Do I see a new link in your next semester Required Reading list, professor?

(c;

Matt Harmon said...

Dan,

Be careful what you wish for :)

In all seriousness I am wrestling with how the blogosphere might be used in the context of my classes. If you have any suggestions let me know.

DJP said...

Seriously?

Well, for my part, I'd just make my day if Greek profs around the country (and world) saw value to what I was doing here, pointed their students to it, and joined in themselves. Heck, I'd even be open to the idea of making this a team-blog one day.

If I were still teaching in an institution and knew of a site like this—which as far as I know is the only one of its kind; but do note my use of the word "like"—I'd definitely point my students to it. I'd say, "For bite-sized examples of the sort of thing I'm urging on you, make this a regular stop, and dive in."

Don't know if that's what you were asking, but there it is.

Matt Harmon said...

Dan,

I have already pointed my first year Greek students to this blog, so that step is already taken. Maybe I could have Pat give a "testimonial" to encourage other students in the class to follow his lead in visiting and commenting.

What I'm considering is whether I could do something like "require" students to post on this blog in order to "make" them join the conversation (perhaps for extra credit?). And if so, what might that look like? Those are the kind of logistics I'm mulling over.

Keep up the good work.

DJP said...

Hm. Well, first, thanks; what a nice idea.

A couple of ways occur to me.

One is: could require a weekly reading report, where they take one post from that week, summarize what it says, what they got from it, plus agree/disagree.

Alternately, you could have a brief period on Fridays discussing the week's posts. Tell students they'll be graded on their participation. Agree, disagree, interact.

But then you'll have to pray as a class that my flow of ideas and time to post continues!

(c:

Pat Park said...

Dan,

I'll pray for that. Thanks for your heart to share your gift in this way.

I guess I should at this point apologize to classmates if our work load just went up, but I enjoy the "bite sized examples" in their context. Working through the verbs forms has been helpful, as well as exposure to some new vocab.

Next I need to figure out how to grab a Greek font to post in.

Pat Park said...

Okay I've been at this too long today. The phrase, ἀρχὴν λαβοῦσα λαλεῖσθαι, in your wooden translation comes out "which having first been spoken." I've got the "first" in ἀρχὴν and having been spoken from λαλεῖσθαι(infinitive present form of lalew). But what happened to the λαβοῦσα (which appears to be a aorist partiple form of lambavw)?

DJP said...

That's a less literal rendering within my literal rendering. I take it as idiomatic. Very woodenly, it would be "which having taken a beginning to be spoken." Paul Ellingworth (NIGTC) says that the expression is found in secular Greek and Philo (140).