b-greek-digest V1 #843

b-greek-digest            Thursday, 31 August 1995      Volume 01 : Number 843

In this issue:

        Re: eight case or five?
        Re: eight case or five? 
        Re: BG: Synoptic Apocalypse
        Re: eight case or five?
        Eight cases or five? 
        Re: eight case or five?
        Re: eight case or five?


From: "VERNON W. REID, ST. JOHN'S, NF. VREID@KEAN.UCS.MUN.CA" <vreid@kean.ucs.mun.ca>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 21:23:08 -0230
Subject: [none]

unsubscribe b-greek


From: "Philip L. Graber" <pgraber@emory.edu>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 20:30:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: eight case or five?

On Wed, 30 Aug 1995 RoyRM@aol.com wrote:

> Where do the linguists stand on this?  Is function more important in
> classification than form?  Or, does form get preminence in a language that
> has such an easy breakdown?

Linguists don't, as a whole, stand anywhere, or they do stand everywhere. 
Neither form nor function is more important than the other. One cannot 
really understand one without the other. The issue of number of cases, 
however, is not a question of form vs. function in one language at one 
time, but the function of a language at a given time in relation to forms 
of a different language (e.g. Greek in relation to Latin) or of the 
"same" language at a different time (e.g. classical vs. Hellenistic 

A single form seldom has a single function anyway, so I say go for the 
number of cases that best represents the forms. Functions will multiply 
no matter how you do it.

Philip Graber				Graduate Division of Religion
Graduate Student in New Testament	211 Bishops Hall, Emory University
pgraber@emory.edu			Atlanta, GA  30322  USA


From: WINBROW@aol.com
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 20:54:08 -0400
Subject: Re: eight case or five? 

Roy Milhouse wrote,
>It also seems that the eight case system is not a popular >today (though I
don't think Dr. Winbery has revised his >_Syntax of NTG_, and its probably on
everyone's shelf!). 

James Brooks and I started working on the Syntax book while we were both at
N.O. Baptist Seminary.  We organized the categories for the cases by the
eight case system though we both preferred to teach from the five case system
because most our students were coming from Baptist schools that were
committed to A.T. Robertson and using Summers Grammar or Hershey Davis.  We
crossreferenced every category to the five case system because that was our

Concerning the eight case system, you are right that it is a matter of
function; but there may as well be nine cases, for what does association (the
instrumental case) have do with instrumentality?  Of course, all syntax is a
matter of reading the context, but so is a lot of lexicography.  I find that
my student now do as well with being introduced by the five case (really four
since we for a long time ignore the vocative which is different only in
Masculine sing. nouns) system as ever they did at N.O.

Carlton Winbery
Fogleman Prof. NT & Greek
LA College, Pineville, LA
(318) 487-7241 Fax (318) 487-7425 off. or (318) 442-4996 home
Winbrow@aol.com or Winbery@andria.lacollege.edu


From: "Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 20:15:54 -0500
Subject: Re: BG: Synoptic Apocalypse

At 6:51 PM 8/30/95, David Moore wrote:
>        To more directly address what Edgar has said: everyone's
>presuppositions matter.  Whoever thinks that what he believes doesn't
>affect how he interprets Scripture, is, IMO, fooling himself.
>Acknowledging our positions openly can keep us from thinking that only
>those who disagree with us are the ones with presuppositions.  We are here
>to dialogue - to convince and to be convinced of the truth and correctness
>of different interpretations.  Being willing to let our own fundamental
>convictions be known, IMO, facilitates that dialogue and frees us from
>false posturing.

Presuppositions certainly do matter; I've tried to be open about mine,
especially where I suspect that some others may not share mine and I want
to be clear about where "I'm coming from." We are here to dialogue, yes,
but to dialogue fundamentally about the meaning of the Greek text of the
Bible, primarily the NT, not primarily about matters of personal faith, and
certainly not for the purpose of evangelizing each other. I think it is
appropriate to state, as Bruce Terry does, for instance, that one starts
out with the assumption that the received text (not the textus receptus) is
essentially sound and historical; I am a bit more skeptical than that,
although I will make a claim to be a believer and to find the canonical
text inspired. I think what we really object to is the posing of questions
to a poster who has expressed what we may consider a heretical notion such
as, "Are you really confident about the state of your own soul?" I don't
really think that I'm in any disagreement with David Moore on this
question, and I really have no qualms with making my own convictions clear
where they bear upon a text (and preferably a Greek text) under discussion,
but I really don't want to be reading statements that are little more than
testimonials on this forum. Is that unreasonable?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu  OR cwc@oui.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/


From: "James K. Tauber" <jtauber@tartarus.uwa.edu.au>
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 1995 09:53:35 +0800 (WST)
Subject: Re: eight case or five?

On Wed, 30 Aug 1995 RoyRM@aol.com wrote:
> Where do the linguists stand on this?  Is function more important in
> classification than form?  Or, does form get preminence in a language that
> has such an easy breakdown?

Both are useful classifications in my opinion.

As a first approximation, the distinction between 8/5 cases is one of 
function versus form, but personally I'm not sure that an 8-way 
distinction is enough when talking about function. Today's descriptive 
grammarians would probably come up with a lot more than 8 functions of
substantives in Greek. For example, one might distinguish agents in 
intransitive clauses from predicative complements, even though they'd 
both be called 'nominal' even in an 8 case system.

My understanding is that an 8 case system is really an attempt to provide a 
diachronic (historical) explanation for the use of one case for multiple 
functions. Viewing Greek as having 8 cases attempts to reverse the case 
syncretism (or merging) that has occurred. What it fails to take into 
account, though, is that even each of Pre-Greek's 8 morphological cases 
had multiple functions.

James K. Tauber <jtauber@tartarus.uwa.edu.au>
University Computing Services and Centre for Linguistics
University of Western Australia, Perth, AUSTRALIA


From: KevLAnder@aol.com
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 22:16:15 -0400
Subject: Eight cases or five? 

I could go into a lecture about comparative philology in defense of the
eight-case system, but I won't since most interested persons can read such
information in Dana & Mantey or A.T. Robertson.

When I have taught Greek to new students at Nazarene Theological Seminary
(Kansas City), I have taught the eight-case system. I used Ray Summers'
grammar. I believe that when students learn the eight-case system from the
beginning they are the better prepared to interface with both systems more
easily. I never found eight-cases to be more confusing to students than five.
If anything, exposure to the eight-case system drove home the fact that case
function is more significant for interpretation than case form. Oh, and by
the way, I used Brooks & Winbery during second semester Greek as the grammar
of choice to consult in tandem with translation of 1 John, largely because
they have incorporated the eight-case system into their explanations of

I must hasten to add that when I teach Greek again in the future I will
probably use David Alan Black's excellent grammar. Although he does not use
the eight-case system, his grammar has the quality of being concise in its
explanations and in its presentation of morphology as Summers is. So it can
be seen that I do not think that eight cases vs. five cases is a life or
death issue.


From: Rod Decker <rdecker@accunet.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 22:02:30 -0500
Subject: Re: eight case or five?

The classic statement re. the 5/8 discussion (in my mind) is that of Nida:

"Some of the adherents to the [8-case] system are rather fanatical about
the value of it, but it is only a matter of words. After all, what is the
difference between calling a form a 'genitive of separation' or an
'ablative'? =8A The principal difficulty with such a system of introducing a=
'ablative,' a 'locative,' and an 'instrumental' when there is actualy no
distinction whatever of form, is confusion added to something already
sufficiently complicated....
If it is a matter of logic, then why stop with eight cases? There are a
sufficient number of functional differences for at least twenty-five
divisions. In other words, the eight case system fits neither the formal
not the functional pattern of Greek. It one retains the formal pattern, one
is at least consistent on one score." (Eugene A. Nida, _Linguistic
Interludes_ [Glendale, CA: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1947], 78-79.)

More recently Porter has said:

"Several grammarians still assert that the Greek of the NT maintains an
eight-case system. Their argument rests on two criteria. First is the
supposition that Greek originally had ablative, locative and instrumental
case forms. Second is their supposed ability to differentiate legitimate
functions of these cases. Regardless of the proto-history of the Greek
language, by the time of the earliest extant remains of Greek these cases
as formally distinct are at best only barely traceable. By the time of
Hellenistic Greek the formal categories are restricted to four or five
distinct inflected cases. Semantic or functional criteria provide a dubious
argument for eight cases, since by this standard one might well cite a far
larger number of cases than eight.=8A Formal synchronic criteria (i.e.
treatment of the Greek language as used during the Hellenistic period,
especially as it is found in the Greek of the NT) dictate that analysis
begin with at most five cases." (Stanley E. Porter, _Idioms of the Greek
New Testament_ [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992], 81.)

Also worth reading is Moises Silva's _God, Language, and Scripture_ (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 199?3?), 102-111 (esp. 105). I don't have it at hand to
cite at the moment.


Rodney J. Decker                       Calvary Theological Seminary
Asst. Prof./NT                                    15800 Calvary Rd.
                                        Kansas City, Missouri 64147


From: Mike Adams <mikadams@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 20:43:19 -0700
Subject: Re: eight case or five?

>I was wondering about the reasons between some choosing an eight case 
>and others a five case.  I know of the top that the eight case is more
>focused on usage and the five case on structure, but what makes one 
decide to
>go with one or the other?  

I haven't the training or knowledge of most who post in this
group, but I'd like to offer my opinion on this subject. 

First, the categorizing of cases into groups is a function of analysis: 
how linguists interpret the idiosyncracies of an existant language. 
Inflections evolve naturally as an integral part of a language. 
Categorizing is an empirical definition of these structures as observed 
in use. We use categories as tools to help us discern the meaning of a 
word in context. What's "best" is a matter of preference.

I was originally taught the eight-case (excluding vocative) system. 
Later, I was introduced to the four-case system. The four-case system, 
conforms to inflected forms, provides a broader, fundamental 
description of each case. The eight-case system appears to define the 
eight most common specific usages, but it can cause difficulties in 
interpreting instances that don't fit precisely into one of the eight. 

I prefer the four-case system as it's easier to learn at first. Also, 
it seems more natural, more closely tied to the original concepts. 
After all, thought, language, and structure are intertwined. 
Ultimately, the four-case system seems versatile as well, as it allows  
almost unlimited sub-definitions within the realm of each basic 
function, offering more latitude to distinguish specific shades of 

Ellen Adams
Housewife and Mom
(And glad to be back from New Guinea)


From: Alan M Feuerbacher <alanf@mdhost.cse.tek.com> 
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 21:31:12 PDT
Subject: parousia

John Albu wrote:

>Concerning the meaning of parousia, Israel P. Warren, D.D., wrote in his 
>work The Parousia, Portland, Maine (1879), pp. 12-15:
> ...
>	"From this view of the word it is evident, I think, that neither
>the English word 'coming' nor the Latin 'advent' is the best 
>representative of the original. They do not conform to its etymology; 
>they do not correspond to the idea of the verb from which it is derived; 
>nor could they appropriately be substituted for the more exact word, 
>'presence,' in the cases where the translators used the latter. Nor is 
>the radical [root] idea of them the same. 'Coming' and 'advent' give most 
>prominently the conception of an approach to us, motion toward us; 
>'parousia' that of being with us, without reference to how it began. The 
>force of the former ends with the arrival; that of the latter begins with 
>it. Those are words of motion; this of rest. The space of time covered by 
>the action of the former is limited, it may be momentary; that of the 
>latter unlimited . . . .

Interesting ideas.  From the comments made on this forum so far, it is
evident that "parousia" is not perfectly translated by one English word,
for it has connotations that combine features of "coming," "advent" and
"presence."  Each of these words has features of the others, since an
"advent" necessarily entails a subsequent presence, and a "presence"
necessarily entails an advent.  The question of the precise meaning of
"parousia," therefore, as Israel Warren pointed out, is more a matter of
emphasis on which feature of "parousia" is the more prominent.  Various
lexicons I've studied indicate an evolution in meaning, so that by the
time of Christ "parousia" did not have the exact same meaning as it did
in classical Greek.

While "parousia" primarily means "presence" (literally, "being alongside")
or "appearing," from ancient Greek times it has also had the meaning of
"arrival," "occasion" and "visitation by a high official," as well as
others.  Furthermore, it is well established today that at the time of
Christ it was used in a special technical sense.  Most early Greek-Latin
translators, for whom both languages were living, used the Latin _adventus_
("advent" or "coming").  The translators for the Syriac Peshitta used a
similar term.  Nearly all Bible translators today use "coming," "advent,"
"arrival" or similar terms, despite the fact the primary meaning is
"presence," because of relatively recent discoveries in Egypt.  The reason
is well expressed by the late 19th century scholar Adolf Deissmann, who
was instrumental in collating and presenting the 19th century discoveries
of ancient Greek manuscripts that showed that the New Testament was written
in _koine_ Greek rather than some special biblical Greek:

   "Yet another of the central ideas of the oldest Christian worship
   receives light from the new texts, viz. parousia [_parousia_], `advent,
   coming,' a word expressive of the most ardent hopes of a St. Paul.  We
   now may say that the best interpretation of the Primitive Christian hope
   of the Parousia is the old Advent text, `Behold, thy _King_ cometh unto
   thee.' [Matthew 21:5]  From the Ptolemaic period down into the 2nd cent.
   A.D. we are able to trace the word in the East as a technical expression
   for the arrival or the visit of the king or the emperor." [_Light from
   the Ancient East,_ Baker Book House, 1978, p. 368]

The point is that, according to Deissmann, the technical sense embodies
both an arrival and a subsequent presence, with emphasis on "arrival."
This is in contrast with what Israel Warren wrote in 1879.  Of course, the
discoveries that Deissmann wrote about had not been made in 1879, so it is
clear that Warren's comments are based on incomplete knowledge of _koine_
Greek.  After all, in 1879 the prevailing wisdom was that the NT was written
in an imaginary, special "biblical Greek."

Deissmann goes on to point out many examples of the use of "parousia."
On the occasion of an official, royal visit, such as when the Roman
emperor made a "parousia" in the provinces in the east, the roads were
repaired, crowds flocked to do homage, there were processions of his
white-clothed subjects, there were trumpet blasts, acclamations, speeches,
petitions, gifts and festivities.  Often a new era was reckoned from the
"parousia" of the king or emperor, and coins were struck to commemorate it.
At the visit or "parousia" of Emperor Nero, in whose reign Paul wrote his
Corinthian letters, the cities of Corinth and Patras struck "advent-coins."
These coins bore the inscription _Adventus Aug(ust) Cor(inthi)_, showing
that the Latin "adventus" was used in the 1st century as an equivalent of
"parousia," at least on those occasions. (Deissmann, p. 371)

A term related to "parousia" is "epiphaneia" ("appearing").  This was also
sometimes used on Greek "advent-coins" as an equivalent of the Latin
"adventus." (Deissmann, p. 373)

Now, what about contextual considerations?  The arrival of Christ in
Kingdom power would certainly be the "arrival or the visit of the king."
The context of Matthew 24 indicates that the disciples asked for a sign of
Jesus' visible coming.  The disciples who asked Jesus about this fully
expected Jesus to take up a visible rule over literal Israel, so they
must have been asking about a visible appearance.  Therefore they were not
asking for a sign that the appearance had already taken place -- for the
appearance itself would be sign enough -- but that it was _about_ to take
place.  This was partly the point of my earlier questions concerning the
proper understanding of "melle" in Mark 13:4.

This is consistent with Jesus' illustration of the fig tree in Matthew
24:32,33: "When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its
leaves, you know that *summer is near*; [or, "about to arrive" -- not "is
already present"] even so you too, when you see all these things,
recognize that He is near, right at the door." (NASB)

Alan Feuerbacher


End of b-greek-digest V1 #843


To unsubscribe from this list write


with "unsubscribe b-greek-digest" as your message content.  For other
automated services write to the above address with the message content

For further information, you can write the owner of the list at


You can send mail to the entire list via the address: