Greek Geek Time - ως + Infinitive

I’ve been hoping to continue my series on Ignatius’ epistle to the Ephesians, but a Greek construction has me me tripped up. What do you make of ως + infinitive in IgnEph 2:1? The translation in the Ante-Nicene Fathers series translates it "as...shall also refresh". More recently Holmes translated it "may the Father...refresh him..." and his last edition had the same. The first step to figuring out what is the best translation here is to figure out what all the options are. Here are the resources I used that I found useful on this:

The Options

Wallace’s GGBB (591, 593) says the construction occurs a few times in the NT, but it is rare, and means either purpose or result. None of the examples of purpose or result discussed in his grammar have the construction.

Robertson has a little discussion on this (990, 1091, 1093). He brings up Heb 7:9 as an example of an absolute use. There is also Luke 9:52, which appears to express purpose.

Young identifies the uses in the NT as expressing purpose (169). He also brings up Acts 20:24, which would express purpose. Robertson mentions this one but does not discuss it.

I could not find in McKay’s A New Syntax where he discussed the construction. However, his discussion on 92 of ως in exclamations drew my attention.

BDF (sections 391 and 391a) mentions the construction, but does not really discuss it.

Smyth had some relevant material. He mentions the use of ως + infinitive in expressions of result(section 2011). He lists a number of examples of the construction used in an absolute sense (section 2012).


So it boils down to a few possibilities. Here is the text (...ως και αυτον ο πατηρ Ιησου Χριστου αναψυξαι...) and how it could be rendered according to our options:

  1. Result: "...resulting also in the Father of Jesus Christ renewing him..."
  2. Purpose: " that the Father of Jesus Christ might also renew him..."
  3. Absolute: " also the Father of Jesus Christ renewed him..."
  4. Wish or Exclamation: "...may the Father of Jesus Christ renew him..."

The first two options make no sense at all in context. The third is possible, but it is the latter that makes the most sense in context. So, I am going to have to go with Holmes on this one for now.

P.S. Somebody please invent a time machine and so someone can go back and tell these guys to use more obvious idioms.


Nick Norelli 2008-02-13 12:33:53

Yeah, but if you had a time machine you could just go back and learn the idiom when it was obvious. Then they wouldn’t need to change anything. :)

Eric 2008-02-13 06:23:23

Good point! And while I was at it, I would probably pull a "Back to the Future" and tell a younger me about the stock market in the future. That way I could know Greek better and be rich. Pure bliss!