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Acts 27:15-20

27:15 When the ship was caught in it 1  and could not head into 2  the wind, we gave way to it and were driven 3  along. 27:16 As we ran under the lee of 4  a small island called Cauda, 5  we were able with difficulty to get the ship’s boat 6  under control. 27:17 After the crew 7  had hoisted it aboard, 8  they used supports 9  to undergird the ship. Fearing they would run aground 10  on the Syrtis, 11  they lowered the sea anchor, 12  thus letting themselves be driven along. 27:18 The next day, because we were violently battered by the storm, 13  they began throwing the cargo overboard, 14  27:19 and on the third day they threw the ship’s gear 15  overboard with their own hands. 27:20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and a violent 16  storm continued to batter us, 17  we finally abandoned all hope of being saved. 18 

1 tn Or “was forced off course.” Grk “The ship being caught in it.” The genitive absolute construction with the participle συναρπασθέντος (sunarpasqento") has been taken temporally; it could also be translated as causal (“Because the ship was caught in it”).

2 tn BDAG 91 s.v. ἀντοφθαλμέω states, “Metaph. of a ship τοῦ πλοίου μὴ δυναμένοι ἀ. τῷ ἀνέμῳ since the ship was not able to face the wind, i.e. with its bow headed against the forces of the waves Ac 27:15.”

3 sn Caught in the violent wind, the ship was driven along. They were now out of control, at the mercy of the wind and sea.

4 tn BDAG 1042 s.v. ὑποτρέχω states, “run or sail under the lee of, nautical t.t.…Ac 27:16.” The participle ὑποδραμόντες (Jupodramonte") has been taken temporally (“as we ran under the lee of”). While this could also be translated as a participle of means (“by running…”) this might suggest the ship was still under a greater degree of control by its crew than it probably was.

5 sn Cauda. This island was located south of Crete, about 23 mi (36 km) from where they began. There are various ways to spell the island’s name (e.g., Clauda, BDAG 546 s.v. Κλαῦδα).

6 sn The ships boat was a small rowboat, normally towed behind a ship in good weather rather than stowed on board. It was used for landings, to maneuver the ship for tacking, and to lay anchors (not a lifeboat in the modern sense, although it could have served as a means of escape for some of the sailors; see v. 30). See L. Casson, Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World, 248f.

7 tn Grk “After hoisting it up, they…”; the referent (the ship’s crew) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

8 tn The participle ἄραντες (arantes) has been taken temporally.

9 tn Possibly “ropes” or “cables”; Grk “helps” (a word of uncertain meaning; probably a nautical technical term, BDAG 180 s.v. βοήθεια 2).

10 tn BDAG 308 s.v. ἐκπίπτω 2 states, “drift off course, run aground, nautical term εἴς τι on someth….on the Syrtis 27:17.”

11 tn That is, on the sandbars and shallows of the Syrtis.

sn On the Syrtis. The Syrtis was the name of two gulfs on the North African coast (modern Libya), feared greatly by sailors because of their shifting sandbars and treacherous shallows. The Syrtis here is the so-called Great Syrtis, toward Cyrenaica. It had a horrible reputation as a sailors’ graveyard (Pliny, Natural History 5.26). Josephus (J. W. 2.16.4 [2.381]) says the name alone struck terror in those who heard it. It was near the famous Scylla and Charybdis mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.

12 tn Or perhaps “mainsail.” The meaning of this word is uncertain. BDAG 927 s.v. σκεῦος 1 has “τὸ σκεῦος Ac 27:17 seems to be the kedge or driving anchor” while C. Maurer (TDNT 7:362) notes, “The meaning in Ac. 27:17: χαλάσαντες τὸ σκεῦος, is uncertain. Prob. the ref. is not so much to taking down the sails as to throwing the draganchor overboard to lessen the speed of the ship.” In spite of this L&N 6.1 states, “In Ac 27:17, for example, the reference of σκεῦος is generally understood to be the mainsail.” A reference to the sail is highly unlikely because in a storm of the force described in Ac 27:14, the sail would have been taken down and reefed immediately, to prevent its being ripped to shreds or torn away by the gale.

13 tn BDAG 980 s.v. σφόδρῶς states, “very much, greatly, violently…σφ. χειμάζεσθαι be violently beaten by a storm Ac 27:18.”

14 tn Or “jettisoning [the cargo]” (a nautical technical term). The words “the cargo” are not in the Greek text but are implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader.

sn The desperation of the sailors in throwing the cargo overboard is reminiscent of Jonah 1:5. At this point they were only concerned with saving themselves.

15 tn Or “rigging,” “tackle”; Grk “the ship’s things.” Here the more abstract “gear” is preferred to “rigging” or “tackle” as a translation for σκεῦος (skeuos) because in v. 40 the sailors are still able to raise the (fore)sail, which they could not have done if the ship’s rigging or tackle had been jettisoned here.

16 tn Grk “no small storm” = a very great storm.

17 tn Grk “no small storm pressing on us.” The genitive absolute construction with the participle ἐπικειμένου (epikeimenou) has been translated as parallel to the previous genitive absolute construction (which was translated as temporal). BDAG 373 s.v. ἐπίκειμαι 2.b states, “of impersonal force confront χειμῶνος ἐπικειμένου since a storm lay upon us Ac 27:20.” L&N 14.2, “‘the stormy weather did not abate in the least’ or ‘the violent storm continued’ Ac 27:20.” To this last was added the idea of “battering” from the notion of “pressing upon” inherent in ἐπίκειμαι (epikeimai).

18 tn Grk “finally all hope that we would be saved was abandoned.” The passive construction has been converted to an active one to simplify the translation. This represents a clearly secular use of the term σῴζω (swzw) in that it refers to deliverance from the storm. At this point those on board the ship gave up hope of survival.

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