Apostolic Fathers and Syntactic Analysis

Most folks who have been around Logos for awhile know that I’m pretty excited about the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. I mean, I am spending a large chunk of my “free” time working on an interlinear of the Greek portions of these writings (it’s getting closer, thank you for asking).

Just think about it: these are guys who lived and wrote shortly after the time of the apostles (Peter, Paul, James, John, etc.), let’s say between 90–200 AD. Tradition reports some of them were direct disciples of apostles. For instance, Polycarp of Smyrna is reputed to have been a student of John (reported by Irenaeus, a student of Polycarp). Clement of Rome, according to tradition, also has ties to Peter and Paul due to them all having ties to Rome.

I get excited about these writings because they are some of the earliest records we have of Christians writing, thinking and putting the gospel into practice. They’re working out the issues. And they get some stuff wrong, just like we do. But the early church took these writings seriously. After all, the Epistle of Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas were part of Codex Sinaiticus (one of the oldest manuscripts containing the complete Bible text, dating to the fourth century) and Codex Alexandrinus (another early Bible codex, dating in the fifth century, likely) had First Clement and Second Clement after the New Testament.

I was reminded about this again at BibleTech:2011 as two different presenters (not to mention other folks I spoke with) mentioned in their presentations how useful it would be to have more and deeper analyses of the Apostolic Fathers available.

The texts are clearly important. They help us understand early Christianity a little better and they help us understand Greek (both words and grammar/syntax) a little better. BDF (a standard reference grammar for Hellenistic Greek) references the Apostolic Fathers frequently, as does BDAG. It is rumored that Daniel Wallace, in an upcoming revision to his Exegetical Syntax, will extensively supplement his material with references to the Apostolic Fathers (see here for details).

With all of this stuff happening, it seemed like a good time to remind people that we at Logos (myself included) would absolutely love to do a Cascadia-style syntactic analysis of the Greek writings of the Apostolic Fathers. It’s been on Pre-Pub for over a year now and has languished.

If you think this would be beneficial to you in your studies, you could help bring it closer by subscribing to the Pre-Pub. While useful for searching, I find these analyses useful for reading too. They help me get an idea of how each clause is put together. Over time this has helped me immensely. Now when I consult Greek text in a format that isn’t graphed (like, on my iPod on Sunday mornings during church) I can see the structures even better as I work through the text.

Below is a sample (a mock-up; no, we haven’t really done this much work) of Ignatius to Polycarp, 2.3a:

Polycarp

Here’s a translation: “The time seeks for you, like shipmasters [seek for] wind and like storm-tossed sailors [seek for] harbor, to reach to God.”

Oh, yeah: If you’re really into this stuff, we have proposed doing a Cascadia-style syntactic analysis of the Septuagint as well (more info in a previous blog post).

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think about our syntactic analysis projects.

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3 Responses to “Apostolic Fathers and Syntactic Analysis”

  1. Pedro May 13, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    About the Scot’s question, may be this could be useful: You need a Syntactic Analysis in order to know, technically, which idea or word is related with another one, in a verse, and how. Of course, you need some skills in sintax.

    • Rev. Nannette La Fosse May 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

      I will also like to know what is the cascade syntac, how tpo use it, etc. Why don’t Logos provide a basic class on this? I’m sure this resouirces would be requested.I have tried in other forums to get more information in all these aspects of greek, etc., but the ones that answer d provide a too thecnical response as if we know what they are talking about. Please, please basic/elemental information. I want to learn greek.

      • Rick Brannan May 16, 2011 at 8:20 am #

        On our YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/logosbiblesoftware) we do have some introduction videos. The title is “Syntax Searching for Everyone”, and there are three videos in the series. Also know that if you use the “Grammatical Relationships” portion of Bible Word Study, you get the benefit of the syntax databases for the word you’re studying without having to manually search for the information.