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Studies in Greek Language & Linguistics…

Category Archives: Greek

Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament

I’m way behind on using this website to record and document ongoing publications that interface Greek and linguistics. This post is part of my renewed efforts for correct that.

This morning in the mail I received a copy of Douglas Huffman’s Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament, volume 16 in the Studies in Biblical Greek series published by Peter Lang. Beyond perusing the table of contents, I haven’t had a chance to really dig into it yet.

I’m going to try to give the book a fair hearing, though I need to say that any publication on Koine Greek that uses the phrase “Verbal Aspect Theory” in its title has already raises my suspicions. In linguistics, we don’t normally say “verbal aspect theory.” The phrase “verbal aspect” is fine, but normally we really just say, “Aspect.” Typically, unless we’re contrasting it with nominal aspect (yes, that’s a thing), that it is verbal goes without saying. And it isn’t a theory. It’s semantic/conceptual category that languages simply have. That isn’t to say there are no theories of aspect. Verkuyl (A Theory of Aspectuality) has his own theory of aspectuality that differs from, say, Carlota Smith’s theory (The Parameter of Aspect)–they didn’t agree. Anyway, it isn’t at all clear clear that that’s how the phrase “verbal aspect theory” is being used by New Testament people. The vast majority of the time, they seem to be just talking about the semantic category…which isn’t a theory, as I said. Occasionally, the phrase seems to be used to refer to Porter’s view of the Greek verb, but technically that isn’t a theory of aspect either. That’s actually a theory of tense (or rather, a theory of the supposed lack of tense). But now I’m rambling…

To get back on topic, we’ll see how it goes. I hope to crack it open at some point in the next week. You’ll probably hear from me again on the subject. Amazon links below:

Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament (Hardcover)
Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament (Paperback)

Now if only Peter Lang will improve the quality of their bindings…

By the way…

For those who skipped over the nonsensically long post before this one, I successfully defended my thesis on August 26th and passed pending the correction of my excessive typos…which I then fixed correctly. No other revisions. I will be uploading it to Academia.edu at some point this fall once I finish my current blog series on linguistic adequacy and Greek grammars.

The official title is:

THE GREEK PERFECT AND THE CATEGORIZATION OF TENSE AND ASPECT: TOWARD A DESCRIPTIVE APPARATUS FOR OPERATORS IN ROLE AND REFERENCE GRAMMAR

The unofficial title that I wish I had used, but didn’t think of in time is:

PROTOTYPES IN LANGUAGE, TYPOLOGY, AND GRAMMAR: AN INTEGRATIVE MODEL FOR TENSE AND ASPECT OPERATORS IN ROLE AND REFERENCE GRAMMAR WITH REFERENCE TO THE KOINE GREEK PERFECT

I’d say that’s much more accurate description of what I’m actually doing in my thesis. Anyway. It’s finally done.

Linguistic adequacy & Robertson’s ‘Big Grammar’

Just to recap on this series, since I’ve been so busy with so many other things and so lazy about my blog, you may want to get a refresher at what we’re discussing in the introductory post here: Linguistic adequacy and Greek grammars and here: Linguistic adequacy and BDF. I really need to finish this series, because I need to write at least two blog posts as prefatory material for sharing my thesis.

Of course, Robertson’s ‘Big Grammar’ refers to his Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Logos) (Amazon).[1] The primary challenge in discussing examples form Robertson’s grammar arises from the great difficulty of finding excerpts that are both complete in their discussion of a topic while also being fairly brief in nature. One of the shorter sections for this purpose is Robertson’s discussion of οὐ in the indicative mood and in main clauses. Nevertheless, the discussion is nearly 1500 words long.[2] Often times, it feels as if Robertson’s larger discussions create more questions than they answer. Before looking at the content itself, the structure of this excerpt is interesting. Robertson’s structure here is very well thought out. The sections flow nicely from one to the next: origin to history and then meaning to usage.

1. The Objective Οὐ and its Compounds

(a) Origin. This is unknown. Hübschmann4 sees a connection with the Latin haud as do other scholars.5 Fowler6 takes it as an original intensive particle like pas in the French ne pas and -χί(Indo-Ger. -g̑hi) in οὐ-χί. The Zend ava is also noted and the Latin au (au-fero).7 But there is no doubt that οὐ in the Greek took the place of the Sanskrit , Latin nĕ- (ne-que, ne-scio; the relation of nē nē-quidem, nē-quam to this is not known), Gothic ni. The use of the Greek οὐ corresponds to the Sanskrit .

(b) History. As far back as Greek goes we find οὐ, but οὐ did not hold its own with μή in the progress of the language. Within the past century οὐ has become obsolete in modern Greek outside of a few proverbs save in the Laconian and the Pontic dialects.1 The Pontic dialect uses κί from Old Ionic οὐκί. But modern Greek has οὐδέ and οὔτε (Thumb, Handb., p. 200). In the Bœotian dialect, it may be noted, οὐ never did gain a place. We have seen οὐδέν used as an adverb, an idiom that goes back to Homer.2 Jannaris3 explains that the vernacular came to use οὐδέν and μηδέν for emphasis and then on a par with οὐ and μή. Then οὐδέν dropped οὐ and μηδέν lost δέν, leaving δέν and μή for the modern Greek. At any rate this is the outcome. Δέν is the negative of the ind. in modern Greek except after νά and final clauses when we find νὰ μή (Thumb, Handb., p. 200). And δέν is the regular negative in the protasis of conditional sentences both with ind. and subj.4 The distinction between οὐ and μή did become more or less blurred in the course of time, but in the N. T., as in the κοινή generally, the old Greek idiom is very well preserved in the main. Buttmann5 even thinks that the N. T. idiom here conforms more exactly to the old literary style than in any other point. Δέν may represent μηδέν (Rendel Harris, Exp., Feb., 1914, p. 163).

(c) Meaning. Οὐ denies the reality of an alleged fact. It is the clear-cut, point-blank negative, objective, final.6 Jannaris7 compares οὐ to ὅτι and μή to ἵνα, while Blass8 compares οὐ to the indicative mode and μή to the other modes. But these analogies are not wholly true. Sometimes, indeed, οὐ coalesces with the word as in οὔ φημι=not merely ‘I do not say,’ but ‘I deny.’ So οὐκ ἐάω (Ac. 16:7)=‘I forbid.’ Cf. οὐ θέλω (Mk. 9:30); οὐκ ἔχω (Mt. 13:12); οὐκ ἀγνοέω (2 Cor. 2:11). See also τὸν οὐ λαόν in Ro. 9:25 (LXX) where οὐ has the effect of an adjective or a prefix. Delbrück9 thinks that this use of οὐ with verbs like the Latin ne-scio was the original one in Greek. In the LXX οὐ translates לֹא.

(d) Uses. Here it will be sufficient to make a brief summary, since the separate uses (pp. 917 f., 929 f., etc.) are discussed in detail in the proper places. The point here is to show how all the varied uses of οὐ are in harmony with the true meaning of the particle.

(i) The Indicative. We meet οὐ with the indicative in both independent and dependent clauses.

(α) Independent Sentences. Here the negative οὐ is universal with the indicative in declarative sentences. The force of οὐ (οὐκ before vowels, οὐχ before aspirate) is sometimes very powerful, like the heavy thud of a blow. Cf. οὐκ ἐδώκατε, οὐκ ἐποτίσατε, οὐ συνηγάγετε, οὐ περιεβάλετε, οὐκ ἐπεσκέψασθε (Mt. 25:42 f.). The force of all these negatives is gathered up in the one οὐ in verse 44. In verse 45 οὐ and οὐδέ are balanced over against each other. See οὐκ ἔπεσεν in Mt. 7:25. Cf. οὐ παρέλαβον in Jo. 1:11. In Mt. 21:29 see the contrast between ἐγώ, κύριε and οὐκ ἀπῆλθεν. Note the progressive bluntness of the Baptist’s denials till οὔ comes out flat at the last (>Jo. 1:21 f.). In the N. T. οὐ alone occurs with the future indicative used as a prohibition, though the classic idiom sometimes had μή. Cf. οὐ φονεύσεις (Mt. 5:21); οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί (6:5), etc. Still, Blass1 quotes μηδένα μισήσετε in Clem., Hom., III, 69. The volitive subjective nature of this construction well suits μή, but οὐ is more emphatic and suits the indicative. In Mt. 16:22, οὐ μὴ ἔσται σοι τοῦτο, we have οὐ μή in the prohibitive sense. When οὐ occurs alone=‘no,’ as at the end of a clause, it is written οὔ as in οὔ, μή ποτε (Mt. 13:29); τὸ Οὔ οὔ (2 Cor. 1:17).

But in interrogative (independent) sentences οὐ always expects the answer ‘yes.’ The Greek here draws a distinction between οὐ and μή that is rather difficult to reproduce in English. The use of a negative in the question seems naturally to expect the answer ‘yes,’ since the negative is challenged by the question. This applies to οὐ. We may leave μή till we come to it. Οὐ in questions corresponds to the Latin nonne. Cf. Mt. 7:22, οὐ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι ἐπροφητεύσαμεν κτλ., where οὐ is the negative of the whole long question, and is not repeated with the other verbs. See further Mt. 13:55; Lu. 17:17; 1 Cor. 14:23. In 1 Cor. 9:1 we have οὐ four times (once οὐχί). The form οὐχί is a bit sharper in tone. Cf. Mt. 13:27; Lu. 12:6. In Lu. 6:39 we have μή with one question, μήτι δύναται τυφλὸς τυφλὸν ὁδηγεῖν; and οὐχί with the other (side by side) οὐχὶ ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον ἐμπεσοῦνται; There is a tone of impatient indignation in the use of οὐ in Ac. 13:10, οὐ παύσῃ διαστρέφων τὰς ὁδοὺς τοῦ κυρίου τὰς εὐθείας; In Ac. 21:38, οὐκ ἄρα σὺ εἶ ὁ Αἰγύπτιος; the addition of ἄρα means ‘as I supposed, but as I now see denied.’1 In Mk. 14:60 note the measured use of οὐ and οὐδέν in both question, οὐκ ἀποκρίνῃ οὐδέν; and the description of Christ’s silence, καὶ οὐκ ἀπεκρίνατο οὐδέν. In Lu. 18:7, οὐ μὴ ποιήσῃ—καὶ μακροθυμεῖ ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς; we come near having οὐ μή in a question with the present indicative as well as with the aorist subjunctive. In a question like μὴ οὐκ ἔχομεν; (1 Cor. 9:4) οὐ is the negative of the verb, while μή is the negative of the sentence. Cf. Ro. 10:18, 19. In 1 Cor. 9:8 we have μή in one part of the question and οὐ in the other, μὴ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον ταῦτα λαλῶ, ἢ καὶ ὁ νόμος ταῦτα οὐ λέγει; In Mt. 22:17 (Lu. 20:22; Mk. 12:14) we have ἢ οὔ; as the alternative question, and Mark adds ἢ μή. Babbitt2 holds that “οὐ is used in questions of fact, while in other questions (e.g. questions of possibility) μή is used.” I doubt the correctness of this interpretation.

In declarative sentences the position of οὐ is to be noted when for emphasis or contrast it comes first. Cf. οὐ and ἀλλά in Ro. 9:8. So οὐ γάρ—ἀλλʼ ὄ in 7:15. In 7:18 f. note οὔ• οὐ side by side. Cf. also position of οὐ in Ac. 1:5; 2:15; Ro. 11:18 (οὐ σύ—ἀλλά). So ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐγώ in 1 Cor. 6:12.

The general pattern seems to be this: the more Robertson says on a topic, the more unanswered questions appear. To his credit, Robertson, in terms of actual descriptive content (as opposed to simply observations of data points), is far superior to BDF. At the same time, Robertson has a tendency to trade useful descriptive statements for rhetorical flourishes that are not overtly meaningful. Consider: “Here the negative οὐ is universal with the indicative in declarative sentences. The force of οὐ (οὐκ before vowels, οὐχ before aspirate) is sometimes very powerful, like the heavy thud of a blow.” If οὐ is essentially universal in indicative declarative sentences, then is it οὐ in and of itself that is so “very powerful, like the heavy thud of a blow”? Could it simply be the larger context of the negation? In the case of this particular quote here, I am not convinced that the references backing up the claim. They all seem to be simply negated statements of fact.

This is, in fact, a common problem. Later on Robertson writes: “The form οὐχί is a bit sharper in tone. Cf. Mt. 13:27; Lu. 12:6” and also, “There is a tone of impatient indignation in the use of οὐ in Ac. 13:10, οὐ παύσῃ διαστρέφων τὰς ὁδοὺς τοῦ κυρίου τὰς εὐθείας.” In these cases, the claims about the tone of the statements (whether “sharper” or “impatient indignation” are ambiguous. Is Robertson making a claim about the negator? Or is he making a claim about the context in which the negator is used? Whichever it is, we are given no account for it one way or the other.[3]

On other occasions, Robertson’s discussions are more compelling.[4] Consider the following portion:

In the N. T. οὐ alone occurs with the future indicative used as a prohibition, though the classic idiom sometimes had μή. Cf. οὐ φονεύσεις (Mt. 5:21); οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί (6:5), etc. Still, Blass1 quotes μηδένα μισήσετε in Clem., Hom., III, 69. The volitive subjective nature of this construction well suits μή, but οὐ is more emphatic and suits the indicative. In Mt. 16:22, οὐ μὴ ἔσται σοι τοῦτο, we have οὐ μή in the prohibitive sense.

This section here, while still not exactly clear in its expression, has a statement of an observable facts, but also provides a motivation for those facts: μή is motivated in Clem., Hom., III, 69 by the volitional nature of the construction, while οὐ is used for future indicative that are prohibitions. Robertson does not say it, but we could extrapolate here that he perhaps believes οὐ prefers deontic modal contexts, while μή prefers epistemic modal contexts. This is a common issue: often his descriptive statements require guessing as to his meaning. Trying to reinterpret Robertson’s statements in contemporary linguistic terminology is often quite difficult. Occasionally while reading Robertson (and in fact, many old grammars), I feel a bit like Blinkin

This situation is also the case in the following quote:

“In a question like μὴ οὐκ ἔχομεν; (1 Cor. 9:4) οὐ is the negative of the verb, while μή is the negative of the sentence. Cf. Ro. 10:18, 19. In 1 Cor. 9:8 we have μή in one part of the question and οὐ in the other, μὴ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον ταῦτα λαλῶ, ἢ καὶ ὁ νόμος ταῦτα οὐ λέγει.”

This appears to be an observation about to the scope of the negation? But what is the actual claim being made? Is Roberson saying that there a consistent division of the scope of negation between οὐ and μή in general (where μή is used for sentence negation and οὐ is not)? Or is he only talking about negation scope situations where the two negators appear together (μὴ οὐ)? And if the latter, is it just true for questions or true in general? Or is this simply a one off instance that Robertson thought worth noting in passing? It is not even clear how such a claim could be tested, especially if it is limited solely to instances of οὐ and μή together in polar questions.

Conclusion

Overall, I would say that Robertson is an improvement to BDF. He certainly provides more meaningful information. Nevertheless, the fact that Robertson’s grammar was written in an era when formal or technical terminology was just nascent for grammar/linguistics causes significant problems. It often feels like while Robertson clearly knows what he wants to communicate conceptually, he does not know how to communicate it. This leaves us as readers with fairly common subjective statements about meaning with little to no real substance or justification. The formalization of grammatical terminology at this point in history only existed for a handful of grammatical categories and for the rest, grammarians were left grasping for the right words to communicate.


[1] That’s the edition that Logos Bible Software digitized. It’s the 3th edition. I also have a physical 1923 4th edition printed by Hodder & Stoughton. The two editions are essentially identical in their text, as far as I have found.

[2] Note indented footnotes below are the original footnotes & numbering from Robertson. Each page begins afresh with footnote 1. For convenience, my own footnotes are formatted differently than Robertson’s.

4 Cf. Das indoger. Vokal-System, p. 191.

5 Cf. Gildersl., Am. Jour. of Philol., XVIII, pp. 4, 123 f.; Horton-Smith, ib., pp. 43 ff.; Brug., Griech. Gr., p. 528.

6 The Negatives of the Indo-Europ. Lang., 1896. Cf. Delbrück, Grundr., IV, p. 519.

7 But Draeger (Hist. Synt., p. 133) says that this connection with the Lat. haud cannot be shown.

1 Farrar, Gk. Synt., p. 182; Jann., Hist. Gk. Gr., p. 425.

2 Monro, Hom. Gr., p. 259.

3 Hist. Gk. Gr., p. 426.

4 Thumb, Handb., p. 194 f.; Jebb, in V. and D., p. 339.

5 Gr. of the N. T. Gk., Thayer’s Transl., p. 344.

6 Cf. Thouvemin, Les Négations dans le N. T., Revue de Philol., 1894, p. 229.

7 Hist. Gk. Gr., p. 427.

8 Gr. of N. T. Gk., p. 253.

9 Synt. Forsch., IV, p. 147.

1 Gr. N. T. Gr., p. 254.

1 W.-Th., p. 511.

2 Harv., Stu. in Class. Philol., 1901, The Use of Μή in Questions, p. 307.

[3] Not to mention the fact that the so-called tone is not necessarily itself even clear from the examples themselves!

[4] At least in appearance anyway—this discussion is not interested in evaluating the strength of the claims themselves, but only the clarity of the claims and the extent to which the grammar justifies or explains them.

1 Gr. N. T. Gr., p. 25.

Defining the Art of Grammar

Really, the only thing I love more than an ancient language is an ancient grammarian writing about an ancient language. And to that end, the most recent issue of Bryn Mawr Classical Review caught my eye.

Minna Seppänen, Defining the Art of Grammar: Ancient Perceptions of γραμματική and grammatica. Annales Universitatis Turkuensis, B 379.   Turku:  University of Turku, 2014.  Pp. 256.  ISBN 9789512956715.  €15.00 (pb).  

Even better, the dissertation that this monograph is based on is freely available online: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-29-5672-2

The abstract looks fascinating and I’m looking forward to digging into it later on this fall.

Side comment…

Has anyone ever noticed that Daniel Wallace’s intermediate grammar uses a strangely large number of exclamation points considering its genre?

What’s up with that?

Linguistic Adequacy & BDF

Since this post is appearing far later than I had intended, I would encourage you to quickly go back and review the previous post in the series: Linguistic adequacy and Greek grammar.

I must apologize first for the fact that we’re starting with BDF (Amazon Link). It is an incredibly dense and difficult to read volume. I’ve heard it said that if you know Greek well enough to have the ability to use BDF, then you probably don’t even actually need to use BDF anyway. And perhaps there’s some truth to that. Before moving forward with our examination of this grammar, however, we should talk a bit about the context in which it was written. Grammar writing in and of itself is a communicative act and grammars are written for particular audiences who expect to use them for particular purposes. This is true even of reference grammars (or perhaps especially of reference grammars). A reference grammar written for native speakers of a language has different goals than a reference grammar written for non-native speakers, for linguists/grammarians, or, in the case of most biblical students and scholars, those who are centrally interested in reading. Moreover, there is a tendency for each of these groups to assume that the wants and needs of the other groups ought to be identical to their own. These groups are interested in different questions when they pull the grammar off the bookshelf. BDF seems to fit primarily within the final two groups, perhaps with some greater emphasis on the last one. It’s also notable in that the grammar functions primarily as a supplement to Classical Greek—much of the discussion is framed in terms of how the Koine diverges from the classical standard.

I chose the following section from BDF primarily because it was something I read recently. It is probably worth emphasizing here that I did not decide to write about linguistic adequacy because of something I read in this section. I had the thought while actually reading a different grammar in conjunction with a conversation I had with a friend. I decided, then, that I would examine and evaluate some of the more prominent reference grammars to see how they stand up to contemporary linguistic standards of adequacy.

The section before us from BDF below comes from a larger section that examines (semantic) types of subordinate clauses in relationship to the indicative and subjunctive moods.

369. Final (purpose) clauses introduced by ἵνα, ὅπως (no longer with ὡς except in A 20:24 S* [§391(1)]), μή have greatly extended their sphere in the NT because a ἵνα-clause so often serves as periphrasis for the infinitive. We are concerned here with mood only, upon which the character of ἵνα (i.e. whether it indicates purpose or not) exerted no influence. (1) The mood in the NT is generally the subjunctive. The classical ‘oblique optative’ is never used even after a secondary tense in the NT nor elsewhere in the lower Koine vernacular; cf. Knuenz 15ff. (2) The future indicative has also been introduced to a very limited degree in the very places where it would not have been permissible in classical, i.e. after ἵνα and final μή, most frequently in Rev and usually with the aorist subjunctive as variant. (3) A special case is that in which a future connected by καί follows upon ἵνα or μή with the subjunctive to designate some further consequence: Jn 15:8 ἵνα καρπὸν … φέρητε καὶ γενήσεσθε (γένησθε BDL al.) ἐμοὶ μαθηταί, where the consequence has a kind of independence: ‘and then you will become …’. It is still more easily understood when it follows an independent subjunctive: Mk 6:37 ἀγοράσωμεν καὶ δώσομεν (p45ALΔ, -σωμεν SBD, al. δῶμεν). (4) The old Attic (Meisterhans 255) combination of ὅπως and ὅπως μή with the future indicative after verbs of reflection, striving, guarding is not found in the NT. Ἵνα (negated ἵνα μή, μή) is used throughout with these verbs, and ὅπως, in so far as it appears at all (never in Rev, once in Jn, not often in Paul), is confined to the purely final sense and to combinations with verbs of asking (παρακαλεῖν etc.). (5) Furthermore, ὅπως, with the exception of a few places in Lk and a quotation from the LXX, has lost the ἄν often appended in Attic (Hermann 267f.; Knuenz 13ff., 26ff.; Rosenkranz, IF 48 [1930] 166), especially in the older inscriptions (Meisterhans 254). Ἄν could not be joined to ἵνα and μή even in Attic. (6) The present indicative after ἵνα is, of course, only a corruption of the text.—For μή (μήποτε, μήπως) expressing apprehension s.

The basic structure of BDF is to make a set of numbered statements about grammatical aspects of the language. These statements are then followed by corresponding set of numbers lists of references. These references with the briefest of commentary are intended to function as the evidence or examples for the corresponding grammatical claims. Often times, debated examples are provided with some comment as to how they should be interpreted. BDF is known for its use of actual manuscripts rather than critical editions. This substantively contributes to the value since it allows us some observation not only about the grammar of the text, but also some insight into the kinds of grammatical variation found in the manuscripts.

The main problem with the initial set of grammatical observations is essentially that they are very little than that: observations. Here they are in a list format, with my own comments about what I view to be lacking, primarily framed in terms of questions that remain unanswered from the statements themselves:

  • (1) The mood in the NT is generally the subjunctive. The classical ‘oblique optative’ is never used even after a secondary tense in the NT nor elsewhere in the lower Koine vernacular; cf. Knuenz 15ff.

These statements are certainly true, but we are left wondering what motivated the disappearance of the ‘oblique optative.’ Does the dominance of the subjunctive in the NT and surrounding literature find it’s motivation in the language simplification processes that take place via koineization? Or should we be looking for some form of analogical leveling? Perhaps both? Does Knuenz 15ff. provide answers to these questions or does he simply contribute more data for this unmotivated observation?

  • (2) The future indicative has also been introduced to a very limited degree in the very places where it would not have been permissible in classical, i.e. after ἵνα and final μή, most frequently in Rev and usually with the aorist subjunctive as variant.

What motivates this introduction of the future indicative? Does it involve some particular aspect of final purpose clauses? Or it is primarily motivated by the nature of the future indicative as a semi-modal form to begin with? Is it limited to a specific semantic class of verbs (as with [4] below)? Surely such a change from Classical Greek to the the New Testament suggests at least some kind of semantic shift in order to motivate this new usage.

Also , when you say that the aorist subjunctive is usually a variant, why do you think that is? Is it primarily because of the morphological similarities between the aorist subjunctive and the future indicative? Can we attribute some semantic significance to the alternation of these variants?

  • (3) A special case is that in which a future connected by καί follows upon ἵνα or μή with the subjunctive to designate some further consequence: Jn 15:8 ἵνα καρπὸν … φέρητε καὶ γενήσεσθε (γένησθε BDL al.) ἐμοὶ μαθηταί, where the consequence has a kind of independence: ‘and then you will become …’. It is still more easily understood when it follows an independent subjunctive: Mk 6:37 ἀγοράσωμεν καὶ δώσομεν (p45ALΔ, -σωμεν SBD, al. δῶμεν).

This is probably the best statement we have so far. Here we have a data point: future connect by καἰ follows upon ἵνα or μή with the subjunctive” and then also a statement of the meaning of the construction. Unfortunately, what motivates the construction still is unstated. Why does this happen rather than merely add another subjunctive (which is what happens in BDF’s variant reading, which also happens to be the reading of the NA27)?

  • (4) The old Attic (Meisterhans 255) combination of ὅπως and ὅπως μή with the future indicative after verbs of reflection, striving, guarding is not found in the NT. Ἵνα (negated ἵνα μή, μή) is used throughout with these verbs, and ὅπως, in so far as it appears at all (never in Rev, once in Jn, not often in Paul), is confined to the purely final sense and to combinations with verbs of asking (παρακαλεῖν etc.).

Like statement (3), this is also more useful, BDF against connect structure and meaning together. We have an old construction with its meaning (and lexical condition) followed by the new Koine conjunction and its  meaning. We are still left with the question of motivation that keeps re-occurring with each of these.

  • (5) Furthermore, ὅπως, with the exception of a few places in Lk and a quotation from the LXX, has lost the ἄν often appended in Attic (Hermann 267f.; Knuenz 13ff., 26ff.; Rosenkranz, IF 48 [1930] 166), especially in the older inscriptions (Meisterhans 254). Ἄν could not be joined to ἵνα and μή even in Attic.

Okay. But what is it about the semantic nature of ἄν that prevents its collocation with ἵνα and μή? The fact that it doesn’t happen is certainly interesting, but surely the reason why would be even more interesting.

  • (6) The present indicative after ἵνα is, of course, only a corruption of the text.—For μή (μήποτε, μήπως) expressing apprehension s. §370.

This is useful, however, could there not also be an alternative explanation that an author simply made a production error? The use of μή to express apprehension, quite interesting. That would come pretty close to functioning as a communicative motivation for a grammatical structure.

But what we see as a whole is very plenty of observational statements of fact with no explanation of them. There is no principled account of why the data is the way it is. So the question then is: Is this observational account useful. Well, yes. It is to an extent. To the extent that the factoids collected here are accurate, they could function as an essential foundation for creating a principled account of why the data is the way it is. The fact of the matter is that BDF feels like the beginning of a grammar. All the data is collected and initial observations made, but there are no connections between the dots at all. Just data points floating around in space unrelated and without purpose.

Section §370. which follows at the end of this point for reference, functions as providing the specific examples that BDF views as relevant as evidence of their statements. This approach is as perplexing as it is interesting. In some sense, this becomes useful to commentary writers and those doing exegesis/general reading of Greek. The problem is that the way BDF is used and cited in commentaries isn’t useful at all. Consider Revelation 22:14

Μακάριοι οἱ πλύνοντες τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν, ἵνα ἔσται ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον τῆς ζωῆς καὶ τοῖς πυλῶσιν εἰσέλθωσιν εἰς τὴν πόλιν.

WBC on this verse makes the following statement (Amazon):

ἵνα can be construed several ways (see Notes 14:13.f. and 16:15.c.): (1) as introducing a final or purpose clause, i.e., “in order that they will have access to the tree of life” (BDF §369[2]; Turner, Syntax, 102), (2) as introducing a causal clause, “because they will have access to the tree of life” (i.e., ἵνα = ὅτι, as the ἵνα in Mark 4:12 = Luke 8:10 becomes ὅτι in Matt 13:13), a usage that is also found in 14:13 and 16:15, or (3) as the imper use of ἵνα: e.g., “may their right be to the tree of life”.

Aune, Revelation 1198.

It is interesting here that only Aune’s option (1) actually reference citation support. But what I wonder is just how helpful the citation is. All BDF §369(2) says is that the future indicative with ἵνα is used to mark final purpose clauses. You cannot use BDF §369(2) to make a judgment about a particular instance because BDF makes no statement about why a particular construction that can be used to mark that meaning as opposed to another meaning. Once again we are back to the problem of having no principled account.

With BDF, the question never answered is: Why?

Will another, perhaps less terse, traditional grammars do better? We’ll see in the coming weeks.

 

Examples of Final purpose clauses from BDF

§370.

Pap. ὡς (ὡς ἄν) iii BC 4 times, ii–i BC 18 times; Mayser II 1, 258–61. Cf. Rob. 982. D. Buzy, Les sentences finales des paraboles évangéliques (RB 40 [1931] 321–44). On ὅπως- and ἵνα-clauses in the Apocr. Gospels Ghedini, Vang. ap. 474–8. Kalinka, WSt 55 (1937) 91–4 (compendium of the results of the work of Knuenz).

(1) The alleged opt. δῴη E 1:17 is subj. (§95(2); B correctly δῷ). Τίς δώῃ = מִי יִתֵּן is frequent in the LXX and is an unmistakable subj. The subj. with ὅπως is aor. except ὅπως ᾖ Mt 6:4 and ὅπως μὴ δύνωνται Lk 16:26. Mayser II 1, 240ff. (subj.), 295 (opt.).

(2) Fut.: Rev 22:14 ἵνα ἔσται … καὶ εἰσέλθωσιν (ἵνα here = ‘because’ ὅτι, as in 14:13), therefore both forms thought of as equivalent (? s. infra). In Paul: 1 C 9:15 ἵνα τις (οὐδείς is incorrect) κενώσει, 18 ἵνα θήσω, 13:3 παραδῶ ἵνα καυθήσομαι (incorrect -σωμαι CK, καυχήσωμαι p46SAB), G 2:4 καταδουλώσουσιν (SAB*CDE), Ph 2:11 ACD al. Further: 1 P 3:1 κερδηθήσονται; Jn 7:3 θεωρήσουσιν (-σωσι B3X al.), 17:2 δώσει (-ῃ ScACG al., δώσω S*, δῷς W, ἔχῃ D); Lk 14:10 ἐρεῖ (ADW al. εἴπῃ), 20:10 δώσουσιν (CDW al. δῶσιν); Mt 12:10 κατηγορήσουσιν DWX. After μή: C 2:8 βλέπετε μὴ … ἔσται, H 3:12 βλέπετε μήποτε ἔσται, Mt 7:6 μήποτε καταπατήσουσιν (-σωσιν SEG al.) … καὶ ῥήξωσιν. Cf. also Gregory 124. Rev 3:9 ἵνα ἥξουσιν (-ωσι 046) καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν (-σωσιν 046) … καὶ γνῶσιν (S γνώσῃ is not good); 8:3 δώσει (-ῃ P 046), 13:16 (written ΔΩΣΙ from which the wrong reading δωσι(ν) in all majuscules arose); 6:4, 11, 9:4, 5, 20, 13:12, 14:13 (ὅτι p47). 1 Th 5:10 ἵνα ζήσομεν (A; ζῶμεν D*E; the aor. is correct S etc. ‘live again’, i.e. at the parousia); ἄν is also omitted in the intervening clause εἴτε γρηγορῶμεν εἴτε καθεύδωμεν (cf. Ph 1:27 ἵνα εἴτε … ἀκού(σ)ω [subj.], Homil Clem 9:22 ἵνʼ ….ὅτε θελήσωσιν, ἀνέλωσιν). Interchange of fut. indic. and aor. subj. (cf. §363): Reinhold 106; Raderm.2 173f.; Melcher 90; Vogeser 34f.; Knuenz 23ff., 39.—On ‘causal’ ἵνα (Rev 22:14) s. Jannaris §1741; Hesseling and Pernot, Neophilologus 12 (1927) 41–6; Pernot, Études 90–5; Windisch, ZNW 26 (1927) 203–9; Robertson, Studies in Early Christianity, ed. by S. J. Case (N.Y. and London, 1928) 51–7. Of the NT exx. adduced by Hesseling and Pernot, Rev 22:14 at the best stands the test if μακάριοι … ἵνα = μακάριοι … ὅτι of Mt 5:3ff.; but ‘in order that’ (dependent on πλύοντες) is also possible; likewise Rev 16:15. 14:13 ἵνα (p47 ὅτι!) ἀναπαήσονται is a main clause ‘they shall rest’ (§387(3)). Mk 4:12 = Lk 8:10 ἵνα is final (theory that some arire incapable of repentance), softened by Mt 13:13 to causal ὅτι (διὰ τοῦτο in answer to διὰ τί 10). Ed. Schweizer, ThZ 8 (1952) 153f. accepts ἵνα in 1 P 4:6 as causal. Literature on causal ἵνα also in Zerwick, Graec. bibl. 95 n. The LXX is also ruled out: Gen 22:14 ἵνα ‘so that’ (§391(5)), likewise Epict.: 3.4.10 ἵνα is final, cf. θέλω in 11. But still there remain the grammarians (e.g. Apollonius Dysc., Synt. 3.28 [Gramm. Gr. ii 2, 382.2] explains ἵνα φιλολογήσω παρεγενήθη Τρύφων as identical with διότι ἐφιλολόγησα π. Τ.), the Church Fathers and late papyri (e.g. BGU IV 1081.3 [ii/iii AD] ἐχάρην ἵνα σε ἀσπάζομαι [however cf. §392(1a)]; Ghedini, Aegyptus 15 [1935] 236).

(3) A 21:24 ἵνα ξυρήσωνται (-σονται SB*D*E al.) … καὶ γνώσονται, E 6:3 OT ἵνα … γένηται καὶ ἔσῃ, R 3:4 OT ὅπως ἂν δικαιωθῇς … καὶ νικήσεις (SADE), Lk 22:30 (many vv.ll.), 12:58 (μήποτε), Mt 5:25 (likewise), Mk 5:23 (acc. to A), Mt 13:5 = Jn 12:40 = A 28:27 (μήποτε or ἵνα μή) OT (Is 6:10); Mt 20:28 add. D μήποτε … ἐπέλθῃ … καὶ καταισχυνθήσῃ; Barn 4.3 ἵνα ταχύνῃ καὶ ἥξει (S for -ῃ), Herm Man 6.2.10, Sim 9.7.6, 28.5; Raderm.2 216. Following an impera.: Herm Vis 2.1.3 λάβε καὶ ἀποδώσεις μοι, Man 2.1 ἄκακος γίνου καὶ ἔσῃ (Lat. esto) ὡς … (Lk 22:10 ἀκολουθήσατε … καὶ ἐρεῖτε); Raderm.2 216f.

(4) The one instance in Jn is 11:57 where ὅπως is evidently used for the sake of variety since ἵνα has just preceded; the same thing applies to Paul in 1 C 1:29, 2 C 8:14, 2 Th 1:12 (not 2 C 8:11, G 1:4, Phm 6; ἵνα … ἵνα G 4:5, 1 C 4:6). Further Epict. 4.5.5, Tatian 41.8 Schwartz. For the expression of purpose Jn uses hardly anything but ἵνα and does not care for the final inf. at all. On the retreat of ὅπως in the Hell. period cf. Reinhold 106; Knuenz 9ff., 28, 34ff.; Schwyzer II 673. However, in the Ptol. pap. ὅπως is almost as frequent as ἵνα but four-fifths of the exx. are in official documents (Mayser II 1, 247–52, 256, 257, 261). Ἵνα in final object clauses: ibid. 242ff.; II 3, 51. Ὅπως and ἵνα often interchange (ibid. II 1, 245; cf. Diog. Oen. 60.1.8 οὐχ ἵνα … ἀλλʼ ὅπως, 1 Clem 65.1 ὅπως … εἰς τό with inf.). The fut. also appears infrequently with ὅπως in the pap. (ibid. 251).

(5) Ὅπως ἄν: Lk 2:35, A 3:20, 15:17 OT (from Amos 9:12, where our text does not have ἄν [Ziegler except in A as a back-reading]); in quotation also R 3:4 = Ps 50 (51): 6 (R 9:17 OT acc. p 188 to FG; from Ex 9:16, where our text is without ἄν). Mayser II 1, 254–7 (ὅπως ἄν very often in the pap., predominantly in official texts); II 3, 50. An uncertain ex. of ἵνα ἄν may be found in Mayser II 1, 246.

(6) Jn 5:20 SL, G 6:12 p46ACF al., T 2:4 S*AF al., E 1:18 FG ἵνα οἴδατε, etc. Cf. Gregory 125; Reinhold 106. Φυσιοῦσθε 1 C 4:6 and ζηλοῦτε G 4:17 are subjunctives, s. §91. Jn 17:24 θεωροῦσιν W, -ῶσιν W2, Rev 16:15 βλέπουσιν p47 minusc. IEph 4.2 ἵνα … ᾄδετε and ἵνα … μετέχετε (Reinhold 107). Only inferior orthography in the Ptol. pap. (Mayser II 1, 244d 1).—On the whole Rob. 980–7; Moule 138f.

Tributes to Rod Decker

The Baptist Bulletin, the online magazine of the denomination Rod was a part of, has published its obituary for this great gentleman and scholar.

Remembering Rod Decker

Similarly, a variety of people who knew and loved Rod have written their own tributes, also published by the magazine.

Rod Decker Tributes

My own relationship with Rod began as interaction between this blog and his own blog, primarily in the comments. He was one who encouraged and challenged my thinking and motivated me to stay focused on Koine Greek as a specialization rather than moving into some other realm of linguistics. I always appreciate his push back on proposals and ideas. Eventually, we e-mailed privately a dozen or so times discussing primarily to discuss Greek. It was a great pleasure to meet and interact with him personally at SBL over the years. I will greatly miss dialoging and interacting with him.

Linguistic adequacy and Greek grammars

It has only been in the past couple years that I have realized that for the most part, the vast majority of Greek reference grammars have a significant lack in terms of the claims they make. This is especially true of grammars written after the reign of the neo-grammarians. I would say most grammatical works that appeared before and during the time of the neo-grammarians are slight better on this front (depending, of course, on which grammar you’re looking, Kuhner is better in my opinion, particularly before it was revised by Blass & Gerth).

But what do I mean by this?

Well, in linguistics, going as far back as Chomsky’s 1965 monogragh, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, we find this concept of levels of linguistic adequacy (pages 18-27 are most relevant, though the entirety of chapter one is very much worth reading. Chomsky lays out three levels of adequacy that grammatical theory should strive form: observational adequacy, descriptive adequacy, and explanatory adequacy. I phrase these below in a manner slightly different than how Chomsky himself did. This is partially because while the concepts are still significantly relevant for the our goals in grammar, a number of frameworks (including the ones that I like most) have moved away from the conception of language as a rule-based system and view language as an emergent, bio-adaptive system (that’s a mix of Bybee 2010, Givón 1999, and Hopper 1988).

Observational adequacy is the lowest level and least sufficient for a grammar. Within the realm of observational adequacy, it is sufficient to collect all the relevant data points and give them label. And there is really no way to talk about a theory of grammar as being observationally adequate at all, at least not in a practical sense. Observational adequancy, ‘observes the data correctly’ (Chomsky 1964, 29); it doesn’t not, however, attempt to account for the linguistic intuitions of the native speaker or provide a principled account for why the data is the way it is.

Descriptive adequacy is the next level up. For a grammar to be descriptively adequate, not only collects the data and categorizes them, but also constructions a principled account of why the data is the way it is. What are the rules of grammar? What are the motivations for the structure of the language? Descriptive adequacy must address these questions. A theory of grammar that is descriptively adequate  should sufficiently account for all of the grammars that satisfy descriptive adequacy (at least in theory).

Explanatory adequacy is the highest level of adequacy and functions are the primary goal of linguistic theory in Chomsky’s conception. This marked a major shift in how linguists approached their craft before Chomsky. Explanatory adequacy seeks to provide a principled account of competing grammatical descriptions. As Chomsky himself explained it: “A linguistic theory that aims for explanatory adequacy is concerned with the internal structure of the device [i.e. grammar]; that is, it aims to provide a principled basis, independent of any particular language, for the selection of the descriptively adequate grammar of each language” (Chomsky 1965, 63).

This last level is essentially where all debate in the field of linguistics exists. Different linguistic frameworks assume this when they argue why their approach to the nature of human language should be preferred over some other approach–often with different fundamental assumptions behind those frameworks. For example, where mainstream generative theory takes as a basic assumption that meaning is derivative from structure (interpretive semantics), Systemic Functional Grammar begins from the extreme opposite perspective: language is first and foremost a social semiotic and as such meaning is logically prior to structure. This fact is one of the reasons why so much linguistic work feels so foreign to many people–the ivory tower of linguistics, as Carl Conrad has called it a few times. The issue is that if you’re primarily interested in the grammatical structure of a language, you’re looking thinking about observational and descriptive adequacy, while large portions of the linguistic literature do not concern themselves with those things. Many times when a piece of linguistic research deals with language data or a descriptive analysis, they’re seeking to arguing a point about explanatory adequacy. This, in turn, can make seeing the relevance of the research for the grammar of the individual language more difficult.

Why is this relevant to individual grammars of Ancient Greek? Well, one question that needs to be dealt with as we look toward the production of a new full reference grammar of the Hellenistic & Early Roman Koine, is this: what is the goal of such a volume? What degree of adequacy should we be aiming for? Most existing grammars do little more than observational adequacy. Is that sufficient for us and what we do with Greek? Perhaps it is or perhaps it isn’t.

In the next couple posts, we will be examining  grammatical discussions taken from a variety of grammars new and old: BDF, Robertson & Wallace. In each case, we will evaluate the level of adequacy achieved by each grammar (whether consistently or inconsistently).

Don’t worry, I wrote the other posts before I published this one so that I wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting to get the following posts up, too. I had originally planned on this being one post, but then it got too large so I split it up. Even still, I’m going to stagger these posts over the next couple weeks simply for spacing reasons. It’s been so long since I’ve written substantive content that I want to ease back into things.

In the meantime, I would be interested in any thoughts from whatever audience I still have left on this blog in terms of what sorts of research questions a fresh reference grammar of the Hellenistic and Early Roman Koine should be aiming to answer.

Works cited:

Bybee, Joan. 2010. Language, Usage and Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chomsky, Noam (1964). Current issues in linguistic theory. The Hague: Mouton.

Chomsky, Noam (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Hopper, Paul (1988). “Emergent Grammar and the A Priori Grammar Postulate.” Pages 117-134. In Linguistics in Context, ed. Deborah Tannen.

Francis T. Gignac (1933 – 2014)

Christopher Skinner over at Crux Sola has reported news that Francis Gignac has passed away at the age of 81. He will be greatly missed as a scholar and teacher by many. For myself, I consider his grammar of the Greek papyri of the Roman and Byzantine periods to be one of the most important grammatical works on the Greek language of the 20th century. It was a grand contribution. There are very few who could produce a dissertation of such magnitude so successfully.

The remembrance of him at Crux Sola is beautiful.

Francis T. Gignac, S.J. (1933 – 2014) (Skinner)

 So far, this is shaping up to be a year of loss for Ancient Greek grammar.

 

Brill’s Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics

This goes in the category of absolutely (likely, anyway) excellent reference works that nobody can afford, but everybody should have. Brill is publishing their Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics very soon. It’ll be available in July at the very low price of $1100; though Amazon is already ahead of the gram with a $55 discounted pre-order price. So, I guess if you have any swing with an academic library’s purchasing plans, maybe make a recommendation and hope that your library still has the semblance of a budget.

There’s a PDF Preview available (link), too, though it looks like some of the articles have been reduced in length for the preview.

Also, at this price, Brill had really better give this set an absolutely immaculate binding.

Brill’s Product Description:

The Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics (EAGLL) brings together the latest research from across a range of disciplines contributing to our knowledge of Ancient Greek. The EAGLL offers a systematic and comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the history and study of Ancient Greek, comprising detailed descriptions of the language from Proto-Greek to koine. It addresses linguistic aspects from several perspectives, including history, structure, individual singularities, biographical references, schools of thought, technical meta-language, sociolinguistic issues, dialects, didactics, translation practices, generic issues, Greek in relation to other languages, etc., and on all levels of analysis including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicon, semantics, stylistics, etc. It also includes all the necessary background information regarding the roots of Greek in Indo-European. As and when, excursions may be made to later stages of the language, e.g. Byzantine or even later. The focus, however, will predominantly be Ancient Greek. With well over 500 entries on all aspects of Ancient Greek, this new encyclopedia is the authoritative reference work for students and researchers of Ancient Greek, general linguistics, Indo-European languages, and Biblical literature.

 

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