Friday, October 22, 2010

The Friday Figure

This week's Friday Figure comes from Paul's defense speech in Acts 24.  Much work has been done on the rhetoric of Paul's forensic speeches in Acts, but I do not know of anyone who has pointed out figures of speech.

Paul begins his speech with a nice use of adiunctio which the Rhetorica ad Herennium defines as the figure in which "the verb holding the sentence together is placed not in the middle, but at the beginning or end" (Rhet Her. 4.27.38). 

Here is Paul's opening sentence:

ἐκ πολλῶν ἐτῶν ὄντα σε κριτὴν τῷ ἔθνει τούτῳ ἐπιστάμενος εὐθύμως τὰ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ ἀπολογοῦμαι

ek pollon eton onta se kriten to ethnei touto epistamenos euthumos ta peri emautou apologoumai

Luke has pushed the main verb in this sentence,  ἀπολογοῦμαι (I make a defense) all the way to the end of the sentence.  By placing the main verb at the end of the sentence, Luke keeps the listener hanging on to his words until the end of the sentence.  The NRSV loses this figure by placing the verb  near the beginning. 

A translation that would keep this figure would be as follows:

"Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this people, cheerfully I  make my defense."

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