Lee - The Onoma Rule

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Matthew Longhorn
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Lee - The Onoma Rule

Post by Matthew Longhorn » August 27th, 2020, 7:23 am

Just spotted an article by John A Lee on the use of the article with ονομα. I haven't given it a read through yet, but may be of interest to folk interested in definiteness

https://www.academia.edu/8607860/The_On ... 014_411_21

I should probably start signing off my posts with "Your friendly local resource hunter"
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Matthew Longhorn
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Re: Lee - The Onoma Rule

Post by Matthew Longhorn » August 28th, 2020, 3:30 am

Introduction
The paper presents an unnoticed “rule” governing the presence or absence of the article with ὄνοµα in naming-constructions of the type “the name of x is N.” It arises from
the survival of an archaic pattern with the dative and no article, alongside a newer
pattern with the genitive and the article. The “rule” is shown to operate not only in the
LXX and NT but in ancient Greek generally, from Homer to Koine Greek. Observance of
the “rule” indicates the LXX translators’ and the NT authors’ familiarity with idiomatic
Greek. The “rule” can also contribute to resolving textual questions, notably Luke 1:63.
Conclusion
Far more significant than its value as a tool of textual criticism is what the
“onoma rule” indicates about the LXX translators’ command of Greek. An
archaic pattern still current in the language of their time is carefully adhered
to and not confused with a more recent pattern also used, and the former is
used contrary to the structure of the original Hebrew. Their familiarity with
this subtlety is strong evidence of their knowledge of idiomatic Greek. It is on a
par with their intermittent adherence to another unobtrusive pattern of Greek
syntax, the forward placing of an enclitic personal pronoun (“Wackernagel’s
Law”) against the Hebrew order. This is significant enough to have led one
recent scholar to conclude that they had native-speaker competence.28 Their
observance of the present rule is as significant and even more consistent. The
NT phenomena similarly indicate the NT authors’ familiarity with Greek idiom.
I conclude with a summary of the “onoma rule.” In name-statements of the
type “the name of x is N,” with the components ὄνοµα + possessor of name +
name (+ copula), if the possessor is expressed in the dative, ὄνοµα is without
the article; if the possessor is expressed in the genitive, ὄνοµα has the article.
Thus: ὄνοµα αὐτῷ Ν (ἐστιν) / τὸὄνοµα αὐτοῦ Ν (ἐστιν). The word-order is variable
and the copula is optional. The rule originates in an archaic pattern with the
dative, probably descended from Indo-European, and operates in Greek from
the earliest times to at least Middle Koine (I-III AD), when it begins to break
down. Observance of this rule by writers of Greek is of course to be understood
as largely intuitive, not the product of conscious application of a rule learnt
as such.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Lee - The Onoma Rule

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 28th, 2020, 3:40 am

Matthew Longhorn wrote:
August 28th, 2020, 3:30 am
Conclusion
I conclude with a summary of the “onoma rule.” In name-statements of the
type “the name of x is N,” with the components ὄνοµα + possessor of name +
name (+ copula), if the possessor is expressed in the dative, ὄνοµα is without
the article; if the possessor is expressed in the genitive, ὄνοµα has the article.
Thus: ὄνοµα αὐτῷ Ν (ἐστιν) / τὸὄνοµα αὐτοῦ Ν (ἐστιν). The word-order is variable
and the copula is optional. The rule originates in an archaic pattern with the
dative, probably descended from Indo-European, and operates in Greek from
the earliest times to at least Middle Koine (I-III AD), when it begins to break
down. Observance of this rule by writers of Greek is of course to be understood
as largely intuitive, not the product of conscious application of a rule learnt
as such.
This rule is consistent with the usage of the article. If the noun is possessively determined as in ὄνομα αύτοῦ, it should also take the article if it is identifiable (and in most cases it is, as here). More interesting is the dative construction. Yes, it could be a holdover over from the anarthrous past, but it also lacks any further determination (as by a possessive or demonstrative) that would necessitate the article.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

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