Tuesday, January 25, 2005



Acts of the Apostles 1:8:
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
In his commentary on this verse, F.F. Bruce writes:
It has often been pointed out that the geographical terms of v. 8 provide a sort of "Index of Contents" for Acts. "Ye shall be my witnesses" might be regarded as the theme of the book; "in Jerusalem" covers the first seven chapters; "in all Judaea and Samaria" Chs. 8:1 to 11:18; and the remainder of the book deals with the progress of the gospel outside the frontiers of the Holy Land until at last it reaches Rome.
In other words, Luke first lists things briefly in the order ABC, and then he treats them at length in the same order. Cicero, De Inventione 1.23.33 (tr. H.M. Hubbell), makes this principle of organization explicit, using a passage from the first act of Terence's Andria (49-171) as an example:
Now that the rules for partition have been stated, it is necessary to remind the orator that throughout the speech he should bear in mind to complete the sections in order one after another as they have been planned in the partition, and that after all have been dispatched he should bring the speech to a close so that nothing be introduced after the conclusion. The old man in the Andria of Terence makes a brief and neat partition of what he wishes his freedman to know: "In this may you will learn my son's manner of life, my plan, and what I wish you to do in the matter." [49-50] And his narrative follows the plan laid down in the partition: first his son's manner of life,

"For after he had left the school of youth..." [51]

then his plan:

"And now I am anxious..." [157]

then what he wishes Sosia to do, which was the last point in the partition, is stated last:

"Now your task is..." [168]

Just as he turned his attention first to each point as it arose, and after dispatching them all stopped speaking, so I favour turning our attention to each topic and when all have been dispatched, winding up the speech.
Some ancient authors, however, reversed the order for artistic effect. Eduard Fraenkel, Horace (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957), p. 292, in an analysis of Horace, Ode 1.12, says:
With ancient writers it was a fairly common practice to announce the sections of their subject in terms such as 'I propose to deal with A and B' and then, in the execution, to let B come first. The arrangement of the ode Quem virum is a case in point. The announcement in the proem runs Quem virum aut heroa...quem deum?: in the execution the gods come first (triad II), then the heroes (triad III), and finally the men (triad IV).
In footnote 2 on the same page, Fraenkel cites another example from Vergil's Aeneid:
A large-scale instance of ABC being taken up by CBA occurs in Aen. VII, where the Fury first incites matres (392), then Turnus (445-74), and finally the herdsmen (483-510), but the description of the ensuing warlike action begins with the herdsmen (574), passes on to Turnus (577), and ends with the sons of those matres (580 ff.).

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