Evidence for the Verb Phrase…

…simply doesn’t exist.

Yes I had said that it does. But my analysis was wrong and so was Michael Palmer’s. Let me explain why:

Since I wrote this post, I have actually retracted everything in it. There is no evidence for the Greek Verb Phrase. The occurrence of this particular verse in my first reference disproves the possibility:

μέχρι καταντήσωμεν *οἱ πάντες* εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ

Notice that the NP subject occurs between the verb and the PP. This fact is definite evidence against there being a Verb Phrase for this verb – and I am yet to find a verb that does have a clear verb phrase.

In fact the evidence for the Greek VP as presented by Michael Palmer doesn’t add up either. He posits two types of adverbs one that functions at the clause level and one that functions only within the VP:

καὶ εὐθέως ἡ λέπρα ἀπῆλθεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ

εὐθέως is a % adverb according to Palmer and thus never occurs between the V & the PP above as opposed to + adverbs, such as πάντοτε:

% ἡ λέπρα % + ἀπῆλθεν + ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ + %

Now I checked my searchable texts and Palmer’s statement rings true. No where in the GNT, LXX, Philo, or the Apostolic Fathers does εὐθέως directly follow the verb it modifies. Under typical circumstances, that would be major evidence for a Verb Phrase.

But there is a much bigger issue that calls this analysis into question. And we find this issue as early as the second occurrence of ἀπῆλθεν:

Καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εἰς ὅλην τὴν Συρίαν·

What’s going on here? Specifically, where in the subject in this clause?

If you’ve noticed that it occurs between the verb and the PP, then you’ve got it. In Palmer’s analysis above, the PP functions within the VP. Thus, either the subject is functioning in the VP or there is no VP. The latter must be the case. If its functioning within the VP, it destroys the point of having a VP. The clause would then consist only of a Verb Phrase!

Worse still is the fact that there is an instance of this constituent order occurring within Palmer’s corpus of Luke-Acts & Paul:

καὶ ἀπῆλθόν τινες τῶν σὺν ἡμῖν ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον

That’s Luke 24.24 above and I’ve put the NP subject in bold. So Greek cannot have a Verb Phrase, at least for the reasons that Palmer and I had previously argued for. But that still leaves the question regarding the distribution of the adverbs. Something seems to be going on. I’ll keep digging.

With all of that said, I think that Palmer’s main contribution – his argument for the Greek N-Bar is a solid one – in spite of the cynicism of others, which I’m definitely willing to explain to anyone who asks.

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