Monday, May 21, 2007

1 Peter 1:3-5—Look, Ma, no finite verbs!

Alert reader Bryan C. McWhite made an interesting observation in the comments on the 1 Peter 1:5 post. He observed that there's not a finite verb to be had for love nor money in 1 Peter 1:3-5.
Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ κατὰ τὸ πολὺ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἀναγεννήσας ἡμᾶς εἰς ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν δι᾽ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκ νεκρῶν, 4 εἰς κληρονομίαν ἄφθαρτον καὶ ἀμίαντον καὶ ἀμάραντον, τετηρημένην ἐν οὐρανοῖς εἰς ὑμᾶς 5 τοὺς ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ φρουρουμένους διὰ πίστεως εἰς σωτηρίαν ἑτοίμην ἀποκαλυφθῆναι ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ.
He asked if I had any thoughts, and I haven't. I did a fairly quick scan of grammars and commentaries, and found no light there, either.

Now, perhaps it is as simple as disputing the period at the end of verse 5, as verse 6 (beginning with ἐν ᾧ) certainly carries the thought on. It is certainly possible that the sentence stretches to verse 9. In that case, the first finite verb would be ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, in verse 6. If that's the case, however, does that reflect back on the exegesis of vv. 3-5?

The microphone is open to your thoughts as well.

Good catch, Bryan!


Bryan C. McWhite said...

Our God certainly is an amusing one sometimes. My reading schedule brought me to this very passage today and I was in the process of memorizing it when your post came up on Google Reader. Have a look at my post/journal entry on 1 Peter 1-2 today.

Unfortunately, I don't know enough about Petrine grammar to know whether the lack of a finite verb in a pericope like this is an oddity or not. It may be that Peter is a bit of a grammar renegade (the nerve) and he does not intend to link 1:3-5 to a finite verb anywhere in the context.

My only other thought is that it may make sense to see agaliasthe as the governing verb if only because it would be an appropriate verb to govern an opening doxology like this (similar to Paul's Walt Whitman-like run-on doxological sentence in Eph. 1:3-11, which also begins with eulogaetos, but nevertheless deploys six finite verbs, I believe.

Sorry, I felt like writing a run-on sentence for some reason.

Greg MaGee said...

Thanks for the food for thought guys - interesting discussion on the theology and the grammar. If I'm not mistaken, the participles are all adjectival, rather than adverbial. They should not need a finite verb to govern them. I think there is a finite verb (between "blessed" and "God") at the beginning of verse 3, but this does not affect the participles. Let me know if I'm missing something here. It is a fun sentence to diagram - difficult to fit it all onto one page!

Greg MaGee said...

That is, there is an --implied--finite verb between "blessed" and "God" in verse 3. It is not actually there in the passage!

DJP said...

A run-on is very much "in the spirit of" this post! (c;

DJP said...

Implied finites don't count, Greg! Now come on, no cheating!

(Commentators argue about whether to supply esto, something else, or, with Lenski, nothing.)

Bryan C. McWhite said...

Good stuff, Greg. Hope you're enjoying the end of the semester, brother.

I can see all of them as adverbial except the first one (anagenao). Could you explain how you see that functioning adverbially?

Greg MaGee said...

Maybe we can all go on an implied verb scavenger hunt :) Glad we have a forum for this - thanks Daniel.

I've been enjoying the posts at your blog Bryan - good to be able to follow what you're doing and learning.

From what I see, the first participle (anagennao) functions substantivally (adjectivally), governed by the article before kata. The whole phrase is appositional to the preceding - "the God and Father . . ."

Bryan C. McWhite said...

Yeah, right on, Greg. That makes sense. So, there's your next post Daniel: How we know, grammatically, that this pericope is not essentially about us or our inheritance, but about the "blessed God."