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 13th, 2020, 9:20 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 12th, 2020, 7:38 pm
The people with the best "feel" for a language, of course, are the native speakers. Unfortunately, native speakers are notoriously poor at describing how their own language works. We expect more out of grammarians, linguistics, and language teachers, but as this ongoing survey of grammars is showing, their "feel" for the Greek article isn't paying off in their descriptions.
Of course, never trust native speakers on their own language, right? However, question: is this part of you planning to write something more extensive on the use of the article? If so, that would be in the category of VGT (Very Good Thing).
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » July 13th, 2020, 12:22 pm

Are you going to review N. Turner? (Vol 3 of the 4 part Moulton.) He has over half a page of dense text about Absense of Article after Prepositions. He cites non-Biblical sources and notably compares with classical, the main point being that "Such phrases may be formulae inherited from a pre-articular age of Greek". Interesting point which hasn't been discussed (has it been mentioned?) before in this thread, maybe demonstrating that we just can't come up with neat rules for everything because language is in flux. But, again, if we want an explanation for why this has happened for prepositional phrases, we don't get it from Turner.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 13th, 2020, 6:52 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
July 13th, 2020, 9:20 am
Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 12th, 2020, 7:38 pm
The people with the best "feel" for a language, of course, are the native speakers. Unfortunately, native speakers are notoriously poor at describing how their own language works. We expect more out of grammarians, linguistics, and language teachers, but as this ongoing survey of grammars is showing, their "feel" for the Greek article isn't paying off in their descriptions.
Of course, never trust native speakers on their own language, right?
Oh, you should absolutely native speakers for the raw data of their language, but in terms of explanations beyond "that's just the way we say it", only trust those with good training.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
July 13th, 2020, 9:20 am
However, question: is this part of you planning to write something more extensive on the use of the article? If so, that would be in the category of VGT (Very Good Thing).
This is part of my text critical work, and I may work something up specifically on the article. The problem is that when evaluating variant readings with the presence or absence of the article, you need to exegete it both ways, and our resources are surprisingly poor when the article does not affect the translation.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 13th, 2020, 6:54 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 13th, 2020, 12:22 pm
Are you going to review N. Turner? (Vol 3 of the 4 part Moulton.) He has over half a page of dense text about Absense of Article after Prepositions. He cites non-Biblical sources and notably compares with classical, the main point being that "Such phrases may be formulae inherited from a pre-articular age of Greek". Interesting point which hasn't been discussed (has it been mentioned?) before in this thread, maybe demonstrating that we just can't come up with neat rules for everything because language is in flux. But, again, if we want an explanation for why this has happened for prepositional phrases, we don't get it from Turner.
I'm going to do Moule next, who makes the same point, which I think is definitely an important factor (as it still is in English). I do have Turner on the list.
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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 13th, 2020, 7:39 pm

Today's grammar is C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, 2nd ed. (CUP, 1959). This is an old-style intermediate grammar, which does not rehash what the beginning student should have already learned but explores various problem passages in the New Testament where the basic grammatical lessons are insufficient. As a result, there is no theory of the Greek article, but a whole host of observations and discussions of difficult examples. That said, the articulation of prepositional objects only comes up in once in the main text and then in an additional note added to the second edition.
Moule 1959:114 wrote:H. J. Katz, in his introduction to Middleton, op. cit. (xiii, xiv) discusses the liberties taken by English in anarthrous phrases such as by sea, by land, day came, etc. He might have added that the usage seems to vary partly with the preposition; we say by sea, by land, by air, but we tend to say on the sea, and in the air. On shore, of course, means something different from on the shore. Luke ii. 14 has ἐπὶ γῆς, but xxi. 25 ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. Very interesting is II Cor. xii. 2, 3 εἴτε ἐν σώματι . . . εἴτε ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματος . . . εἴτε ἐν σώματι . . . εἴτε χωρὶς τοῦ σώματος . . .†

On the other hand, examples are forthcoming in plenty of intelligible and significant uses; e.g. Heb. i. 2, ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ, Nairne (Cambridge Greek Testament 26) writes: ' "His Son," A.V. and E.v., spoils the grandeur of the thought . . . . Yet R.V. mg., "Gr. a Son, is hardly correct. The Greeks, with their frequent omission of the article in the large tragic style, could express just what is wanted here, but there is no equivalent in English. . . . Hence Westcott's paraphrase (which he does not offer as adequate) "One who is Son". He carries us further by his remark that we should lose as much by omitting the article before προφήτηαις [in v. 1] as by inserting it here.'¹

¹ Middleton, op. cit., curiously omits this passage from his comments on the article in Hebrews (399).
Moule 1959:207 Notes and Corrections wrote:page 114. Dr Katz observes that the omission of the Article with proper Prepositions is good Greek; and he suggests that the determination of a noun by a Preposition only is a survival of a primitive stage before the use of the Article had become general.
Some points:
  • We've seen Luke 2:14 δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ / καἰ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη / ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας before. Wallace takes this as a definite, but we explored the possibility of a qualitative reading, much like English on earth. Levinsohn's approach would say that γῆς has unique referential identity and so its lack of an article gives it prominence. We can see that the prominence here as a contrastive setting (or in Levinsohn's terms, in an anarthrous point of departure).
  • Luke 21:25 Καἰ ἔσονται σημεῖα ἐν ἡλίῳ καἰ σελήνῃ και ἅστηροις, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ ἤχους θαλάσσης και σάλου, -- Here the issue is the non-lack of the article before γῆς. Perhaps a Levinsohn analysis would say that this instance is not prominent, I suppose, perhaps merely adding to distress on the earth (cf. v.23 ἔσται γὰρ ἀνάγκη μεγάλη ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὀργὴ τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ, to which reference it may arguably be anaphoric).
  • 2 Cor 12:2-3 shows an interchange in articulation among objects of proper and improper prepositions. This actually has cross-linguistic corroboration in recent research into the evolution of the article in Germanic and Romance languages.
  • Nairne via Moule contradicts Wallace's analysis of Heb 1:2, who views it as (controversially?) qualitative. I think Levinsohn would say that this is consistent with his prominence analysis, but notice the clause final position.
The main takeaway is that prepositional phrases can be regarded as a special context for the use of prepositions, but not just any preposition since the improper prepositions may behave differently.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » July 14th, 2020, 4:17 am

page 114. Dr Katz observes that the omission of the Article with proper Prepositions is good Greek; and he suggests that the determination of a noun by a Preposition only is a survival of a primitive stage before the use of the Article had become general.
This is interesting. To me it looks like a (well hidden) explanation for the phenomenon: prepositions somehow determine nouns. Is there any proof for that, for example from modern linguistics?
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » July 14th, 2020, 4:45 am

Most of the discussions seem to imply that having the article is the norm and and anarthrousness is an exception when the reference of the noun is definite (or particluar or whatever). But what happens if we turn it around - with prepositions anarthrousness is the norm and using the article needs explanation? Is this possible?
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 14th, 2020, 7:03 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 14th, 2020, 4:17 am
page 114. Dr Katz observes that the omission of the Article with proper Prepositions is good Greek; and he suggests that the determination of a noun by a Preposition only is a survival of a primitive stage before the use of the Article had become general.
This is interesting. To me it looks like a (well hidden) explanation for the phenomenon: prepositions somehow determine nouns. Is there any proof for that, for example from modern linguistics?
Good question. I don't really have any (good) idea what he means. My reading of the contemporary linguistics literature is that article-less languages simply don't make the presuppositions about uniqueness or familiarity that article languages do.*

* See for example this article: https://academic.oup.com/jos/article/do ... 02/5848470
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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 14th, 2020, 7:06 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 14th, 2020, 4:45 am
Most of the discussions seem to imply that having the article is the norm and and anarthrousness is an exception when the reference of the noun is definite (or particluar or whatever). But what happens if we turn it around - with prepositions anarthrousness is the norm and using the article needs explanation? Is this possible?
Yes, I've been thinking on just those lines. Wallace even hints at this when he says: "The reason for the article, then, is usually for other purposes (such as anaphora or as a function marker)." Figuring out exactly what these other purposes are still needs to be done.
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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 14th, 2020, 7:52 pm

Eeli mentioned Turner's treatment in an earlier post, so today's grammar will be Nigel Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek: J. H. Moulton, vol. 3 Syntax (T&T Clark, 1963).
Turner 1963:179 wrote:(c) Absence of Article after Prepositions¹

Such phrases may be formulae inherited from a pre-articular age of Greek. In class. Greek they are often anarthrous, like proverbs and enumerations, although anaphora or contrast may restore the art. : e.g. Lys. 12, 16 εἰς ἄστυ to town, but 54 εἰς τὸ ἄστυ ; Demosth. 19, 30 ἐν ἀγορᾷ but 27, 58 ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ In NT : Mk 7⁴ ἀπ' ἀγορᾶς, 15²⁷ ἐξ δεξιῶν . . . ἐξ εὐωνόμων, Mt 24³³ ἐπὶ θύραις, Lk 7³² ἐν ἀγορᾷ (but in Mt 11¹⁶ etc. ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς [CEFW om ταῖς]), Jn 6¹⁷ εἰς πλοῖον aboard; papyri ἐπὶ πόταμον riverwards, κατὰ πόλιν in town, κατὰ γῆν καὶ θάλασσαν by land and sea (class.), ἐξ δεξιᾷ on the right (class.). The omission in time-designation is class. : e.g. πρὸς ἑσπέραν Lk 24²⁹ (Ac 28²³), πρὸ καιροῦ Mt 8²⁹ (24⁴⁵ Lk 4¹³ 8¹³ Ac 13¹¹ Ro 5⁶ Heb 11¹¹), διὰ νυκτός Ac 5¹⁹ (vl. art.), μεχρὶ μεσονυκτίου Ac 20⁷ (but κατὰ τὸ μεσονῦκτιον 16²⁵). For personal anatomy one might expect the individualizing art., but ἐπὶ πρόσωπον Lk 5¹² etc. (2 Co 10⁷), and the omission occurs also in profane authors like Polybius ; class. similar κατ' ὀφθαλμούς, ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς.

Formulae like ἀπ' ἀγροῦ understandably have no art. because no individual field is in mind ; but referring to a definite field in Mt 13²⁴ ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ αὐτοῦ. But also ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ (D Chrys om τῷ) without indiv. reference (Mt 13⁴⁴) like τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ (6²⁸). The excuse for the art. must then be that it is generic, the country (like τὸ ὄρος the highlands Mk 3¹³ etc.).

¹ K-G I 605f. Gildersleeve II § 569. Eakin 333. Mayser II 2, 14ff.
Turner's analysis of the articulation of prepositional phrases holds that the NT largely maintains the classical usage. I think that's basically right (except for proper names, which *** Levinsohn focusses upon). I also think that "formulae" is too strict of a criterion as we see anarthrous objects of proper prepositions more often than that.

Building upon my and Eeli's discussion yesterday, where the lack of the article should be considered the rule with proper prepositions and it is the article in them that needs explaining, I would like further explanation of Turner's statement that "anaphora or contrast may restore the article." Especially intriguing to me is that Turner suggests that a generic reference can be restored as in Matt 13:44 Ὁμοίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ βασλιεία τῶν οὐρανῶν θησαυρῷ κεκρυμμένῳ ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ, ...
Last edited by Stephen Carlson on July 15th, 2020, 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Misleading statement deleted
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