However, when, based on these statistics, I postulated SV as the
unmarked (i.e., "normal") order and sought reasons for marking in the
VS instances, I came up empty. This was grievous to me, because I was
sure that SV was the normal order. The obvious next step was to
postulate VS as the normal order and seek reasons for SV as marked. I
fully expected to come up empty again, and I began to fear that this
crucial point of my study would never pan out and that I'd have to
begin anew with another dissertation topic! But to my surprise, I
found that a large proportion of the SV instances were easy to
explain on bases such as the fact that a relative pronoun functioning
as subject is naturally going to appear before the verb. In fact, of
26 clauses in Hebrews where the subject is a relative pronoun, an
interrogative pronoun, the article used as alternative pronoun, or
the substantival OUDEIS, 100% occurred in SV order. Some other
mechanical-type factors were also discernible.
Weeding out these instances allowed me to focus on only those clauses
where the writer truly "has a choice" about the order of subject and
verb, and I found it much easier to account for SV as the marked
order (even though it remained in the majority) than VS. I won't go
into the kinds of factors I correlated with marked order here, but
emphasis (which I believe I determined on a reasonably objective
basis) was one of them.
So I just want to suggest here that simple counts may not hold up
under careful contextual scrutiny. It is one thing to say that the
subject occurs most frequently before the verb this appears to be a
simple matter of fact. But it is another thing entirey to say that
therefore some special meaning or emphasis is intended whenever the
order is reversed. Not that Craig suggested this, but I think we all
know that most NT Greek students' interest in the order of words
relates to their desire to discern meaning in the details of the
Craig or anyone else who may wish to see my dissertation may order it
from Bob Jones University via Inter-library loan. The title is "Greek
Word Order and Rhetorical Emphasis in the Epistle to the Hebrews"
(1991). I mention this with hesitation; I suspect that my feelings of
simultaneous pride and shame regarding the value of this work are not
entirely out of the ordinary.
A very short precis is available by emailing me off-list with the
word "precis" in the subject field of the message.
In Love to God and Neighbor,
Bob Jones University