In the 1970s, Joan Bresnan and Ronald Kaplan took a hard look at where Chomsky’s ideas were headed and did not like what they saw.
This is part one of a multi-part series. Part II is: A brief history of syntactic theory: Parallel-contraint based […]
Both contributors to this blog (yes, there actually is more than one — Mike and Rachel Aubrey) are […]
Porter, Stanley. 2015. Linguistic analysis of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. This review is […]
T. Muraoka. 2016. A syntax of Septuagint Greek. Leuven: Peeters. There is a sense in which introductions are […]
I could have sworn that I had mentioned Lars Nordgren’s book, Greek Interjections Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics at some point before, but apparently not. I can’t find the post. In any case, his book received a detailed review in the latest issue of the Bryn Mawr Classical Review by Coulter George:
Nordgren’s book is, of course, expensive on Amazon (here), though with all such monographs, patient waiting can often land you a reasonably priced copy–I picked one up about a year ago.
The author has a academia.edu page, as well, but he has not uploaded any papers.
To use a definite article is to say to your audience: “I know what I’m talking about and I think you know what I’m talking about, too.” Your audience can correct you and say, “Nope, no clue. I can’t identify what you’re talking about.” But if they don’t, you as a speaker feel comfortable proceeding with whatever you’re going to say.
So in John 1:18: where the author writes: ἡ χάρις καί ἡ ἀλήθεια διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐγένετο, he’s expressing confidences that his audience knows what he’s talking about with χάρις and ἀλήθεια. Now, yes, in Greek abstract nouns have a tendency to be articular. That is certainly true, but that ignores another pattern in the language: if you want to talk about something in particular, you introduce it first, without the article, to establish it in the minds of your audience and then after that, you can proceed to talk about it with the article.
And lo and behold in John 1:14, the author has already done precisely that:
Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας.
In the first reference to χάριτος and ἀληθείας, John couldn’t count on his audience being able to identify them and their relation to Jesus, so no definite article. But once introduced, he can then proceed on the assumption of shared knowledge with his audience and thus χάριτος and ἀληθείας each get the article in verse 16.
Take a look for yourself. Find a noun with an article and see if you can trace back to where the idea, person, or thing it refers to was first introduced. It probably won’t have an article at that point.
Out of the kindness of a friend, T. Muraoka’s A Syntax of Septuagint Greek (Amazon) arrived at my proverbial […]
Narrow negation, where scope of negation falls on an argument or adjunct rather than on the entire proposition can be […]
Our friends and colleagues at Old School Script have released a new edition of their interview series: Scholars in […]