Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 9th, 2020, 11:55 am

nathaniel j. erickson wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 10:40 am
Though it is often a faux pas in linguistic description to appeal to speaker's choice, one has to wonder if the usage or non-usage of the article in (at least certain) prepositional phrases in certain instances was heavily influenced by the personal preferences of the speaker/writer?
My favorite example is that in the NT the articular θεός in the majority of context refers to the one true God. In Ignatius' epistles, he often omits the article where the NT authors would have it, but clearly means the same thing.

Yes, the article is a huge hot mess. When evaluating its use, the factors to take into account include diachronicity (what period of Greek literature are we talking about) and idiolect (personal style), and even genre (An Atticizing author of the second century CE might be quite different from an informal letter on papyrus from the 3rd century BCE). There are obviously general trends, which is what the grammars that Stephen finds disappointing try to describe, but that doesn't mean every author in every context follows a particular trend.

And of course, trying to figure these things out by just focusing on the corpus of the NT is pretty much doomed to failure.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Daniel Semler
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Daniel Semler » July 9th, 2020, 12:05 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 11:45 am

Almost needless to say, the ECF's tend to use the phrase almost exclusively without the article, perhaps in imitation of the predominant NT usage.
I was following you until ECF's. Early Church Fathers ?

thx
D
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 9th, 2020, 12:08 pm

Daniel Semler wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 12:05 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 11:45 am

Almost needless to say, the ECF's tend to use the phrase almost exclusively without the article, perhaps in imitation of the predominant NT usage.
I was following you until ECF's. Early Church Fathers ?

thx
D
Yes, a fairly standard abbreviation.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » July 9th, 2020, 1:39 pm

The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek (2019, p. 328 ff.) is a bit clearer with the article in general.

Meaning:
* "The article is 'definite' because it refers to someone/something that is identifiable."
* Reasons for identifiability:
** mentioned before
** obvious from the context or made specific by the immediate context
** generally well-known
** species or class in its entirety
** abstract concept

But it doesn't say much about those situations where something is identifiable yet lacks the article. Only that
* "The lack of an article in prose is normally significant" (why? it doesn't tell, or does it mean that it signifies non-identifiability?)
* "In many cases, however the lack of the article with proper names is difficult to account for"

It doesn't mention fixed expressions or prepositional phrases at all. All in all, Siebenthal is still much more useful for the NT students, even though it's more confusing at first.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 9th, 2020, 4:59 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 1:39 pm
The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek (2019, p. 328 ff.) is a bit clearer with the article in general.

Meaning:
* "The article is 'definite' because it refers to someone/something that is identifiable."
* Reasons for identifiability:
** mentioned before
** obvious from the context or made specific by the immediate context
** generally well-known
** species or class in its entirety
** abstract concept

But it doesn't say much about those situations where something is identifiable yet lacks the article. Only that
* "The lack of an article in prose is normally significant" (why? it doesn't tell, or does it mean that it signifies non-identifiability?)
* "In many cases, however the lack of the article with proper names is difficult to account for"

It doesn't mention fixed expressions or prepositional phrases at all. All in all, Siebenthal is still much more useful for the NT students, even though it's more confusing at first.
Yes, I thought the CGCG was quite thin on its treatment. Smyth is better.

On the other hand, it does have a nice, common sense approach to tense and aspect.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 9th, 2020, 7:31 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 3:44 am
I agree with Stephen on pretty much all about Siebenthal. It's somewhat a disappointment because it doesn't seem to give a thought to possible linguistic explanations to many phenomena. Maybe there's just not enough knowledge about the article that he could say something which isn't unsure or speculation, something which just introduces different kinds of hypothesizing theories? Therefore he says something which can at least be demonstrated. But it doesn't let me understand the article.

It's of course interesting to see how it compares to the English definite article, but my native language is Finnish which doesn't have an article at all, and the use of articles is one of the most difficult things in English for me. Seeing two different idiomatics uses of articles of two different languages doesn't help me much.
This is a great point. Not all languages have articles, and so it must seem a bit frustrating to read von Siebenthal's basic explanation of the Greek article as "The standard use of the Ancient Greek article agrees by and large with the use of the English definite article." (p. 184 § 132). Of course, the German original refers to the German definite article. And this statement follows a section detailing how the Greek and English definite articles differ. (Even in English, dialects differ on the use of the article, e.g., American "in the hospital" vs. British "in hospital").

A fundamental issue I have is that English and German (not to mention French, Italian, Swedish, etc.) also have indefinite articles, and that has to affect at least the implicatures of using the (definite) article. In particular, in English the definite article has a strong implicature of uniqueness, which is really clear when we emphasize it, but I'm not convinced that the same implicature exists in Greek or even that the article can be emphasized.

Maybe from a certain pedagogical standpoint assuming certain things about the audience (i.e., that they are native English speakers), von Siebenthal's approach is helpful for the beginning student, but from a descriptive grammar perspective, it really does not do anything to get inside the Greek speakers' Sprachgefühl (their intuitive sense for the natural idiom of the language).
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 3:44 am
As for the examples: "ἐκ νεκρῶν" -- "But does it have to be definite here? It does not seem that the identifiability of the plural νεκρῶν is at issue here." I agree. There are certain examples where the thing is definitely definite, like God, but here we could as well as have any fuzzy group of dead people. It's like an adjective vs. noun. A noun descibes a thing, an adjective descibes a quality.
Yeah, there's something going on. Not sure if adjective vs. noun (or quality/property vs. thing/entity) is quite right, but it is gesturing at it. I'm also intrigued by your later suggestion of a "mass" interpretation. In English, the mass/count distinction is paramount (because it partly accounts for the use of indefinite articles), but I can't really recall any analysis where it is crucial in Greek. (I remember things like ἄρτος can be a countable 'loaf' or uncountable 'bread'--but I don't recall articulation being a distinguisher.)
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 3:44 am
The important question, of course, is if there happens to be some other explanation to the lack of the article than just a preposition. If there is, it's misleading to lump those examples together. It would even partly lack "observational adequacy" because we would be observing the wrong thing.
Right, this is one of the things I'm looking at in the grammars.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 9th, 2020, 7:42 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 5:04 am
Why would this be interesting? They look pretty much predictable after all. Identifiable bodies of water are articular (although IMO in Ex 2:10 it's not clearly identifiable in the context of the speaker's utterance).
I think that holds up and it is a vote for identifiability. (I'll note that the behavior seems different for the genitive in the Apollonius Canon construction, but that's another matter to study.)
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 5:04 am
But maybe this can be compared with "from the dead" etc., as if "the dead" is liquid or mass rather than an identifiable group of things. Of course the dead could be presented as an identifiable whole if needed in the context.
Intriguing suggestion. Maybe we can say that mass (non-countable) construals need not be presented as identifiable?
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 9th, 2020, 7:48 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 8:26 am
I think it's quite stretch to say it means anything other than what English means by "the dead." But to complicate things further, I see these types of prepositional phrases being used adverbially, and perhaps there was felt no need of the article in prepositional adverbial phrases, though in most cases in English it sounds awkward without it. If the article is used, perhaps it emphasizes the nominal quality of the object. I'm speculating here...
That depends on what the English means by "the dead" ;-). In particular, the use of definite article is one strategy for nominalizing adjectives in ENglish, but how do we know whether this traditional idiom is the best way to do it?

Von Siebenthal mentions that such prepositional phrases in Classical Greek are used adverbially but goes on to say that Koine use is broader than that. So instead of explaining Koine Greek by comparison with English, it is now being compared to Classical Greek--now that is making a specific (and arguably superior) assumption about the students' background!
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 9th, 2020, 7:55 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 10:00 am
Most of the time "from the dead" with ἐκ is anarthrous in the NT. Exceptions (there may be more):

I Thess 1:10 καὶ ἀναμένειν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης.
Colossians 1:18 καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας· ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων
Ephesians 5:14 διὸ λέγει· Ἔγειρε, ὁ καθεύδων, καὶ ἀνάστα ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ἐπιφαύσει σοι ὁ Χριστός.

The Ephesians passage feels poetic, I'm not sure if it should be analyzed with the same rules (poetry is often different than prose). In the Colossians passage it would be fitting to think of the dead as the whole group: Christ is the first-born from among all of them. But in the Thessalonians passage it's difficult to see any difference between ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν and ἐκ νεκρῶν unless we just presuppose some difference.
By the way, the presence of the article in 1 Thess 1:10 is a hard text-critical problem (hence my interest in getting a good grasp of the issue), and if we can understand the articulation of prepositional objects better, then we can evaluate the intrinsic probabilities for the reading better.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » July 9th, 2020, 8:08 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 9th, 2020, 7:55 pm

By the way, the presence of the article in 1 Thess 1:10 is a hard text-critical problem (hence my interest in getting a good grasp of the issue), and if we can understand the articulation of prepositional objects better, then we can evaluate the intrinsic probabilities for the reading better.
I have yet to be convinced that the articulation of prepositional objects is an item different than the articulation of other objects.

******************

Postsrcipt: this isn't important

Lots of ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν in "Early" Church Fathers, over a hundred samples from Origen, Athenasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianus, ... no evidence of an aversion to using that language. The expression ἐκ νεκρῶν is more frequently used but certainly isn't a case of ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν being rare.

Origenes Contra Celsum
Καὶ ἀποκρινούμεθά γε πρὸς τὸν εἰπόντα ἐκ τῶν ἡμετέρων
συγγραμμάτων ἡμῖν λελαληκέναι· ὅτι, ὦ οὗτος, ἆρ' ἐκεῖνα
μὲν ἀνέγνως, ἐν οἷς κατηγορεῖν ἡμῶν ὑπολαμβάνεις, τὴν
δ' ἀνάστασιν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, καὶ ὅτι «πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν
νεκρῶν» ἐστιν, οὐ διεξελήλυθας;
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