Piling up Participles

In English we have ‘independent clauses’ — sentences or sentence fragments that stand on their own: “William bought rhubarb.” We also have “dependent clauses” — sentence fragments that don’t stand on their own: “Having gone to the store”. But one or more dependent clauses can be combined with one independent clause to express a complete thought: “Having gone to the store, William bought rhubarb.”

In English we tend not to use many dependent clauses for our one independent clause. But other languages — including Greek — are more wanton that way. A good example is Mark 5, where the author piles up quite a list of dependent clauses before getting to the independent one. The effect is quite dramatic:

25 And [a] woman being in flow of blood twelve years
26 and having suffered much from many physicians
and having spent all she had,
and having profited nothing
but rather having become worse,
27 having heard concerning Jesus,
having come in the crowd from behind,
she touched his robe.

In English this is generally translated as a series of separate independent clauses: “A woman had a flow of blood… She suffered much from many physicians… She spent all she had…” But to me there is a wonderful tension that the author of Mark creates by piling up a list of seven dependent clauses, building suspense, before arriving at the crux of the whole passage: “She touched his robe.”