I’m still working on my next post on discontinuous syntax in Hellenistic Greek. Presently, I’m examining the 289 occurrences on of discontinuous phrases in the New Testament where the noun is first rather than the modifier, which we’re labeling Y2 Hyperbaton.
[UPDATE] See the comments for clarification of what’s going on here.
What I’m finding though, is that many of hits in Opentext.org of this construction (Noun-Gap-Modifier) consist of the initial Noun, the copula εἴμι, followed by a genitive modifier.
This was an unexpected result from Opentext.org because this construction is described in reference grammars as predicative, rather than discontinuous. BDF is representative here:
The genitive with the function of an adjective is the commonest way in which the case is used; like the adjective it can be used either as an attributive or a predicate (dependent upon εἶναι, γίνεσθαι etc.).
Friedrich Blass et al., A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 89.
My own inclination is that these sorts of genitive NPs are predicative rather than attributive in discontinuous phrases. Here are some examples:
Matt 5:34 θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ θεοῦ
Matt 5:35 ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ
Acts 12:15 ὁ ἄγγελός ἐστιν αὐτοῦ
Pragmatically speaking (on the assumption that Devine and Stephens are correct), there should be a difference in meaning between these options. Steve Runge’s Discourse Greek New Testament marks these constructions as focused/emphatic. But DS claims that Noun initial discontinuous phrases denote topicalization (or Topical Frames to use Steve’s terminology – that’s a spoiler for my next post by the way).
So we have two options:
- We could consider these examples discontinuous phrases.*
- We could consider these predicative.
If the former, then DS is wrong about Head Noun initial hyperbaton marking Topic with the following modifier being tail material. If the latter, then both Steve’s analysis as well as that by Devine and Stephens are correct.
Now I’m perfectly fine with DS being wrong. I can definitely handle that. Nobody gets everything right. But I honestly don’t know which is correct.
What do you think?
* There are examples of discontinuous phrases very similar to this: Matt 12:8 κύριος γάρ ἐστιν τοῦ σαββάτου ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. We know these are clearly discontinuous because of the explicit NPsubject: “the Son of Man.”