Thursday, August 24, 2023

Acts 1:7

24 August 2023 

Εἴπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς, Οὐχ ὑμῶν ἐστιν γνῶναι χρόνους ἢ καιροὺς οὓς ὁ πατήρ ἔθετο ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ.

Let's look at the first phrase first.  It introduces the rest of the verse.

 Εἴπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς

The verb is εἴπεν, 'he said' (3-S aorist of λέγω / εἶπον), and the subject is Jesus,

from previous context.  So Jesus said something 'to them' (the apostles, also from previous context), and the rest of the verse quotes what he said.

Remember that the beginning of direct speech is capitalized (here, Οὐχ) by convention.

What did Jesus say?

Οὐχ ὑμῶν ἐστιν γνῶναι χρόνους ἢ καιροὺς 

οὓς ὁ πατήρ ἔθετο ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ.

 There are three verb forms, the first of which is negated.

1   οὐχ . . . . ἐστιν - 'it is not', 3-S present, εἰμί

2  γνῶναι  -  'to know'; aorist infinitive active of γινώσκω .  This verb has a complicated conjugation, with the second aorist ἔγνων.

γνῶναι  makes sense in combination with the preceding οὐχ ὑμῶν ἐστιν, i.e., 'it is not of (for) you to know'.

To know what?  Here we have a bit of confusing Greek vocabulary:

 χρόνους ἢ καιροὺς

Ὁ χρόνος and ὁ καιρός both can mean something like 'time, appropriate time, season', etc., with χρόνος tending more toward 'time' and καιρός toward 'season'.  Maybe.

Χρόνος has been used since Homer, and καιρός is seen in Hesiod.  The latter word has accumulated and additional meaning in modern Greek - 'weather' - but is not used much anymore for 'season'.  Languages change.

So we have:

it is not for you to know (the) times or seasons

followed by the relative pronoun οὓς, 'which'.  This form is masculine plural accusative, and can refer to both χρόνους and καιρούς.

The final phrase of the verse elaborates on the 'which'.

οὓς ὁ πατήρ ἔθετο ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ

Diagramming this phrase gives some clarity:

The verb is ἔθετο, 3-S, aorist middle indicative, τίθημι, 'I put, I place'.
The subject is, of course, ὁ πατήρ, 'the father'.

The prepositional phrase ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ should cause a problem only in the use of ἐν:  English tends to say 'by' his own authority rather than 'in his authority'.

To sum up, a translation:

He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father set out by his own authority."




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