In the comments to my last post it was pointed out that the syntax of the sentence of Beatitudines aliae capita xx is poetic, rather than prose; and the word order is accordingly weird.
The first two “chapters” – or rather sentences – are both in a similar form. The first clause consists of:
- Μακάριος ὃς (“Blessed is he who”), then:
- A verb in participle form, meaning “having been/done/hated/whatever”. This expects an object, but the object is displaced to the end of the clause. Instead:
- A verb or two in the simple indicative, past or present – I am avoiding too much jargin here – meaning “he does/feels/whatever”.
- The object.
So in section 1, we had “Blessed is he who, having hated | the human life, abandoned [it]”. But “the human life” was at the end of the clause.
Section 2 is as follows.
β’. Μακάριος ὃς μισήσας βδελύσσεται τὴν κακίστην ἁμαρτίαν, Θεὸν μόνον ἀγαπήσας τὸν ἀγαθὸν καὶ φιλάνθρωπον.
Modern Greek translation, printed by Phrantzolas:
2. Μακάριος αυτός πού μίσησε καί άποστρέφεται την απαίσια αμαρτία, επειδή αγάπησε μόνο τόν αγαθό καί φιλάνθρωπο Θεό.
Traversari’s Latin translation, printed by Assemani:
Beatus, qui odit ac detestatur pessimum peccatum, Deumque solum bonum atque hominum amatorem diligit.
This as before gives a general sense rather than an accurate one.
A kind correspondent pointed out last time that the syntax of the first clause is in a poetic order, so needs to be rearranged for translation purposes. We have
Μακάριος, ὃς | μισήσας βδελύσσεται | τὴν κακίστην ἁμαρτίαν,
Blessed is he, who | having hated the worst sin | loathes [it].
Where βδελύσσεται (normal meaning = loathe) is the active verb (3rd person present indicative middle/passive), and the object is “τὴν κακίστην ἁμαρτίαν” (= the worst sin), which we must pull forward after the participle, μισήσας.
A mistake I made last time was in not checking Lampe’s Lexicon of Patristic Greek. This pays dividends again, for on p.294 I find βδελλύσσομαι given as “abhor”, which is better than loathe.
So far so good. Now the rest of the clause, which I read as:
Θεὸν μόνον | ἀγαπήσας | τὸν ἀγαθὸν καὶ φιλάνθρωπον
having loved | only God | [who is] good and loves mankind.
Here I move the aorist active singular masculine participle ἀγαπήσας (“having loved”) to the front, as all the rest are in agreement with “God”.
But this is still not right, I think. Clearly there is something about the syntax of the second clause that I don’t know, about that aorist participle. It feels wrong.
Googling I find that an aorist participle should mean a past event, except where the main verb is also aorist, when it can mean a contemporary event. (It can even mean a subsequent event, rarely! Aargh!) In our context, that does make sense.
Traversari cheerfully changes the participle into an indicative, and the aorist into the present tense. He treats it as meaning “loves / values / esteems / aspires to”, which seems about right. But even here “loving only God…” would be closer.
Putting it together, we get:
2. Blessed is he, who having hated the worst sin, abhors [it], loving only God [who is] good and loves mankind.
Is that right? Criticisms welcomed below!
- See Daniel B. Wallace, here: “The aorist participle, for example, usually denotes antecedent time to that of the controlling verb. But if the main verb is also aorist, this participle may indicate contemporaneous time.” References: “ We are speaking here principally with reference to adverbial (or circumstantial) participles.  Cf. Robertson, Grammar, 1112-13. From my cursory examination of the data, the aorist participle is more frequently contemporaneous in the epistles than in narrative literature. There is also such a thing as an aorist participle of subsequent action, though quite rare.”↩