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NT: Find if there are any singular relative pronouns with plural antecedents?


EricC
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Philemon 5 is well known for its difficulty. Along with many other commentaries on Philemon, I have Colossians & Philemon by David W. Pao (2012) in https://www.accordancebible.com/product/zondervan-exegetical-commentary-on-the-new-testament-11-volumes/.

 

I'll let Pao explain it:

 

 

Following the word order in Greek, the verse literally reads: “because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints” (NASB; cf. NAB; NJB; NKJV; REB; HCSB; ESV). Some consider this grouping of two nouns followed by two prepositional phrases an “ugly duplication.”51 For those who consider the two nouns as a group with two prepositional phrases modifying both nouns, the word “faith” would mean “faithfulness.”52 Proponents of this reading see “no reason why Paul should not have thought of both love and faith as the sum of the Christian lifestyle and therefore of both as related to both ‘the Lord Jesus’ and ‘all the saints.’”53
    Several scholars have, however, detected a chiastic structure here:54

a    Love
   b    faith
   b´    in the Lord Jesus
a´    for all the saints

With this construction, “in the Lord Jesus” (πρὸς τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν) modifies “faith” (τὴν πίστιν), while “for all the saints” (εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους)55 modifies “love” (τὴν ἀγάπην): “because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus” (NIV; cf. NRSV, GNB, TNIV).56 This reading is preferable for a number of reasons. First, this chiastic structure explains the existence of the two prepositional phrases in successive order and maintains the usual Pauline use of the term πίστις in the sense of “trust” or “faith.” Moreover, the Ephesian parallel with a simpler structure in Greek confirms this reading: “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people” (Eph 1:15).
    The Colossian parallel not only provides the same two-part structure (“because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints,” Col 1:4), but the relationship between “love” and “faith” there helps illuminate the relationship between the two here. In Colossians, the conjunction “and” (καί) is probably epexegetical: “because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, a faith that is expressed in the love that you have for all the saints.” This is supported by the reappearance of only “love” at the end of that thanksgiving section (Col 1:8).

One thing Pao did not mention is the accusative singular feminine pronoun ἣν functioning as a relative pronoun (in English as "which" or "that"). Seems to me that if it is improper and / or unattested in the NT that such a singular pronoun have a plural antecedent, then that's another solid argument in favor of chiasmus here. I'm still trying to clarify the arguments and evidence.

 

So, my question is this: Is there some way to search the GNT for any instances where a singular relative pronoun might have a plural antecedent? (A search of any GNT is a help, but I'd prefer searching the Accordance TR (I guess it's a version of Stephanus' TR) until such time as Accordance gets Scrivener's TR.)

 

Thank you!

Edited by EricC
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I don't know of a way to search specifically for that. There are places where a singular pronoun could refer to a double antecedent (eg 1 Tim 1.9), but it's a subjective determination whether the pronoun refers to both nouns or just one. Your best option might be to just search for that specific form of the pronoun and evaluate the usage for yourself. 

 

 

One word of caution from Dan Wallace:

 

"Not infrequently relative pronouns do not follow the basic rules of agreement. Sometimes the gender of the RP does not match that of the antecedent, usually because of sense agreement superseding syntactical agreement (constructio ad sensum). As you recall, the rules of agreement do not normally involve case for the RP. Yet sometimes the case of the relative is attracted to that of the antecedent (known as attraction or direct attraction); at other times, though much less often, the antecedent is drawn to the case of the RP (known as inverse or indirect attraction).

 
To make matters more difficult, the relation of the RP to its antecedent is sometimes complicated: the antecedent may be lacking, or the relative phrase may be adverbial and thus not refer to a noun or other substantive. As with the demonstratives, the discovery of these syntactical “glitches” occasionally yields a point of exegetical value as well."
 
Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: an Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 337.
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Hi Eric,

 

  I'm a little lost here - is this the Greek you are referring to : Col. 1:4 ἀκούσαντες τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην ἣν ἔχετε εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους and the RP as in bold here ? Neither Eph 1:5 nor Col 1:8 have an RP. Curiously the TR have τὴν here but ἣν ἔχετε is omitted. It doesn't appear that ἥν is serving as a singular RP for a compound antecedent here. Re-reading the bit from Pao it appears to be addressing another passage and referring to these for comparison.

 

  So which passage is it that you are interested in ?

 

thx

D

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Daniel,

 

I'm referring to Philemon verse 5. That's what Pao is commenting on in referring to the other passages.

Edited by EricC
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Ah ... ok - I missed it right at the beginning of your first post - ooops.

 

Ok, the Accordance Greek syntax module does tag antecedents. In this case it tags a on πίστιν as the antecedent of ἥν. I've not really looked for compound antecedents before. Acc does tag plural antecedents but the case you have in Philemon 5 is actually a compound of two singulars. It appears that such cases may be tagged in some cases, though perhaps a little oddly. Someone who knows how this part of the syntax db works would have to comment but it appears that the antecedent tagged is the first word of the phrase which is the antecedent. We appear to see that here in Luke 5:10.

 

post-32023-0-90952500-1604415963_thumb.jpg

 

If that holds you might do a relatively simple syntax search looking for antecedents in the first place of a phrase followed by antecedents on singular pronouns. Alas, both the antecedent proper and the thing that refers to it are tagged with antecedent. They are not distinguished as antecedent and referencer or antecedent and anchor. Regardless in Philemon 5 the referent of the RP is just πίστιν which likely means Marco didn't think this was such a case.

 

Finally, I notice that the NA and TR punctuate the Greek slightly differently:

 

“ἀκούων σου τὴν ἀγάπην καὶ τὴν πίστιν, ἣν ἔχεις πρὸς τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους,”
(Philemon 1:5 Novum Testamentum Graece (New Testament in Greek))
https://accordance.bible/link/read/GNT28-T#Philem._5

 

“ἀκούων σου τὴν ἀγάπην, καὶ τὴν πίστιν ἣν ἔχεις πρὸς τὸν Κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους,”
(Philemon 1:5 Greek New Testament: Textus Receptus)
https://accordance.bible/link/read/GNT-TR#Philem._5

 

Note the placement of the comma. I don't know what to make of that but it may suggest different scope for the RP perhaps.

 

Thx

D

Edited by דָנִיאֶל
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The Exegetical Guide to the GNT (available in Accordance and does include Philemon) is helpful here. Part of the exposition:

 

These two coordinated prep. phrases can be related to the two preceding nouns (τὴν ἀγάπην and τὴν πίστιν) in three basic ways:

(1)    Both phrases may modify each noun: “the love and the faith which you have for the Lord Jesus and for all God’s holy people” (NJB; sim. Moffatt [“your love and loyalty to . . .”], NAB2, REB; Barth-Blanke 271 [“your love and faithfulness”]; Dunn 315, 317–18).
(2)    Both phrases may modify τὴν πίστιν only: “I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints” (RSV; sim. NASB2).
*(3)    The εἰς phrase may modify τὴν ἀγάπην and the πρός phrase τὴν πίστιν, in an instance of chiasmus (A-B-B-A): “your love for all God’s people and the faith which you have in the Lord Jesus” (GNB; sim. NRSV, TNIV; BDF §477[2]; R 1200; Turner, Style 97; ZG 652; Moo 387–89; O’Brien 275, 278–79; R. Bultmann, TDNT 6:212n277 [“probably”]); and with the order “faith . . . love,” CEV, NLT, NET; Fitzmyer 3, 95–96, following the order found in

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Daniel & mgvh,

 

Thank you for your input and help!

Edited by EricC
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