More on Interrogatives in Ancient Greek

After the response I received from my blog post a little bit ago where I made the observation that Dr. Mounce’s guide for determining whether a sentences was a question lacked the most obvious key, the thought occurred to me that I should take a look at the beginning and intermediate grammars (no reference grammars) on the subject.

I was rather surprised (in a bad way) by the results. Of the 24 grammars I checked, 16 of them said nothing about τίς being used at the beginning of questions (i.e. to introduce questions).

This include:

  1. Anne H. Groton’s From Alpha to Omega: A Beginning Course in Classical Greek 3rd edition.
  2. C. D. F. Moule’s Idiom Book of New Testament Greek
  3. Maximillian Zerwick’s Biblical Greek
  4. J. Gresham Machen’s New Testament Greek for Beginningers
  5. Kendell H. Easley’s User-Friendly Greek : A Common Sense Approach to the Greek New Testament
  6. Benjamin Chapman’s New Testament Greek Notebook
  7. William Hersey Davis’ Beginner’s Grammar of the Greek New Testament
  8. Ray Summers and Thomas Sawyer’s Essentials of New Testament Greek
  9. Richard A. Young’s Intermediate New Testament Greek : A Linguistic and Exegetical Approach
  10. James Swetnam’s An Introduction to the Study of New Testament Greek. 2nd, rev. ed.
  11. Fredrick J. Long’s Kairos: A Beginning Greek Grammar
  12. A. T. Robertson’s A Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament, for Students Familiar With the Elements of Greek
  13. J. H. Moulton’s Introduction to the Study of New Testament Greek 3rd Edition
  14. W. Bell’s A Compendious Grammar of the Greek Tongue
  15. Goodwin’s Greek Grammar
  16. William Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek 3rd Edition

Some of this is relatively understandable. Moule’s Idiom Book was never intended to be a comprehensive volume nor was Zerwick’s Biblical Greek. And Bell’s Compendious Grammar does very little more than survey morphology the section on syntax is more interested in other issues (well, that and it was published in 1820). But this reality is disconcerting for the other volumes.

After the conversation a couple weeks ago, it was even more disturbing that Mounce’s grammar makes no mention of the fact that τίς is used to being questions—at least, it doesn’t appear in the section where he introduces this delightful little interrogative on page 81 of the third edition. If anyone can find a mention of the position of question words elsewhere, I’d be delighted.

I would venture a guess that the reason for the state of grammar on this issue results from an obsession with:

  1. Morphology over Syntax
  2. Syntax as categorization for translation rather than syntax as structure