Miscellaneous comments

Randy Leedy (RLEEDY@wpo.bju.edu)
Thu, 22 Aug 1996 17:06:39 -0400

I just finished working my way through the B-Greek digests that
awaited my return after a week's absence. I found a few things
regarding which I hope my two cents worth will be at least two cents

First, David Cashmore inquires about prospects for success in
teaching Greek on a casual level that does not pursue technical
mastery but rather equips a student to use a few essential Greek
tools reliably. I want to thank Don Wilkins for voicing what the pit
of my stomach tells me: that a little Greek knowledge may be more
dangerous than none at all. I have hesitated to say this out loud,
fearing that I may be nothing more than a curmudgeon trying to
protect my academic turf, however small it may be. My opinion has
been only a hunch, but Don Wilkins has given it at least a little
support from his own experience.

Perhaps someone can comment on the legitimacy of the following
analogy. If, knowing nothing about electricity, you asked an
electrician to give you a two-hour crash course that would qualify
you to rewire your home, I hope the electrician would refuse. Surely
he would see that such a course would encourage you to undertake a
project in which the possibility of success is remote and the danger
is substantial. On the other hand, I would think that a good
electrician could teach you enough in two hours to qualify you to
perform certain simple repairs such as replacing a wall outlet,
switch, or ceiling fixture. He will render you a lasting service in
that two hours only if he clearly communicates two kinds of
information: that which helps you accomplish certain tasks and that
which clarifies areas of danger into which you should not venture
without additional help.

On this analogy, I wonder whether it might be possible to mark out
certain areas of original-language research that could be taught
apart from a thorough-going mastery of the whole language, in
conjunction with warnings and examples of the danger of straying into
the vast unknown of grammar itself. It seems to me that the most
appropriate area of Greek study for such an approach would be the
semantics of word meanings. Perhaps we could do people a lasting
service by teaching them enough Greek to navigate the lexicons but,
more important, to chase down all the occurrences of a word and its
relatives (both morphological and semantic relatives) and to analyze
them legitimately in their various levels of context. It seems to me
that this kind of study can be carried out apart from a knowledge of
grammar. Any comments?

Next subject. On the grammar of Mark 6:43 (HRAN KLASMATA DWDEKA
KOFINWN PLHRWMATA, as best I can remember the clause without looking
it up) H.B. Swete's commentary on Mark support's Philip Brown's view
that PLHRWMATA is in apposition to KLASMATA and is modified by DWDEKA
KOFINWN. To weave in another thread at this point, Kevin Woodruff
suggested that Dan Wallace's new grammar is comprehensive enough to
touch on nearly everything, but I have not found that to be true.
This is a question of precisely the kind Jonathan Robie is raising,
but this verse is not listed in Wallace's index. In fact, none of the
grammars handy on my shelf (Robertson, Turner, and Wallace) deal with
it. My experience with Hanna's GRAMMATICAL AID is that it doesn't
deal with this kind of question, either. The book was a great concept
(a compilation of comments culled from a number of respected
grammars), but Hanna's selection of comments has not proven helpful
to me.

While I'm referring to you, Jonathan, I don't think anyone took up
your inquiry about phrasing Greek questions. In a question, the
pronoun represented by the English "who?" or "whom?" is not the
relative but the interrogative. Thus your suggestions PAR hWi HN hO
LOGOS and PROS hWi (but PROS would take the accusative hON) HN hO
LOGOS are not questions but rather are relative clauses and therefore
incomplete sentences. If you punctuate them with a question mark they
become nonsense. You could use PROS TINA (with acute accent on the
ultima) HN hO LOGOS...? I would, as you suggested, avoid changing
prepositions if possible.

I was interested in Carl Conrad's comment about the dative of time
used where classical standards require the accusative (John 14:9). I
recalled seeing something similar recently in Acts. When I found the
note I had made about it, I find it was quite a similar phrase:
AUTOUS (Acts 8:11). I had theorized in the note that perhaps the
accusative after DIA TO expecting the infinitive would feel too much
like an accusative of general reference and therefore Luke
substituted the dative. Consulting Turner's SYNTAX, I find a
discussion of the dative used for duration of time: "Examples abound
in Hellenistic sources; and since they are usually with transitive
verbs, it may be that there was some reticence felt at placing a
second accusative alongside a verb which already had an accusative of
direct object." Turner cites a number of NT examples, particularly
from Luke.

In closing, I want to express appreciation for several of Carl
Conrad's recent comments, particularly on John 8:58 (both the
explanatory comment and the plea to cease and desist, with which I
agree) and on II Tim. 3:16. Though he and I are poles apart, I
believe, philosophically and theologically, his reading of these
texts commends itself to me as straightforward and sane. I can
appreciate the work of someone who sees and respects the line,
however fuzzy it may be at times, that separates his grammar from his

I expect within a few weeks to be able to offer a review comparing
BibleWorks for Windows and Logos Bible Software. I am awaiting final
comments from Logos and will have to spend a bit of time formatting
the review into a readable ASCII text. If you're anxious to see this
review, please drop me a line. How soon I make time to get it ready
will depend on the interest level I sense.

In Love to God and Neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC