Use of the article with ἐν

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Stephen Carlson
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Use of the article with ἐν

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 8th, 2020, 11:13 pm

Following our look at various grammars on the use of the article with (proper) prepositional objects, I want to look at, in this topic, examples with the preposition ἐν, especially (near) minimal pairs. I welcome your thoughts about these cases.

First up is ἐν γαστρί vs. ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ. The nouns γαστέρ ("womb") and κοιλία ("belly") are nearly synonymous at the ontological level but may differ in register. Interestingly, they exhibit different behavior when it comes to the article after ἐν in the New Testament.

γαστέρ is always bare in our corpus when used with ἐν:
Matt 1:18 πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου.
Matt 1:23 Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται υἱόν,
Matt 24:19 οὐαὶ δὲ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις
Mark 13:17 οὐαὶ δὲ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις
Luke 1:31 καὶ ἰδοὺ συλλήμψῃ ἐν γαστρὶ καὶ τέξῃ υἱόν,
Luke 21:23 ⸀οὐαὶ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις
1 Thess 5:3 ὥσπερ ἡ ὠδὶν τῇ ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσῃ, καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐκφύγωσιν.
Rev 12:2 καὶ ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα· ⸂καὶ κράζει⸃ ὠδίνουσα καὶ …
κοιλία on the other hand is always arthrous:
Matt 12:40 ὥσπερ γὰρ ἦν Ἰωνᾶς ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ τοῦ κήτους τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ
Luke 1:41 ἐσκίρτησεν τὸ βρέφος ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ αὐτῆς, καὶ ἐπλήσθη πνεύματος ἁγίου
Luke 1:44 ἐσκίρτησεν ⸂ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει τὸ βρέφος⸃ ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ μου.
Luke 2:21 πρὸ τοῦ συλλημφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ.
If we take our point of departure from our grammars the use of the article with a proper preposition like ἐν should involve only certain, strong readings of the article, we can begin to get a sense of what kind of uses are strong. Three examples of κοιλία are possessively determined (Matt 12:29, Luke 1:41, and 44), and that appears strong enough to use the article. All of the example of γαστέρ involve being in a condition or entry into a condition, and although it could be referential, a non-referential reading relating to the condition of pregnancy seems to be in view.

This leaves us with Luke 2:21, where πρὸ τοῦ συλλημφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ seems pretty close to Luke 1:31 καὶ ἰδοὺ συλλήμψῃ ἐν γαστρὶ in most material respects. Is this an example of the use of the article being lexically conditioned as we get in English? Maybe, but not so fast. One strong reading of the article, recognized in some of the grammars, is an anaphoric use, and Luke 2:21 appears in just such a context, one that points back to 1:31.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Stephen Carlson
Posts: 3022
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne
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Re: Use of the article with ἐν

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 10th, 2020, 4:18 am

The next noun we'll look at is ἡ δεξιά, the right hand. It is found both with and without the article after ἐν.

With the article, it is fairly straightforward:
Matt 27:29 …, καὶ πλέξαντες στέφανον ἐξ ἀκανθῶν ἐπέθηκαν ἐπὶ ⸂τῆς κεφαλῆς⸃ αὐτοῦ καὶ κάλαμον ⸂ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ⸃ αὐτοῦ, …
Rev 2:1 Τάδε λέγει ὁ κρατῶν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἀστέρας ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ, …
Both of these are determined by the possessive and refer to an identifiable right hand of an identifiable person (the Son of Man).

Without the article, it gets a little more interesting:
Rom 8:34 μᾶλλον ⸀δὲ ⸀ἐγερθείς, ὅς ⸀καί ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ, ὃς καὶ ἐντυγχάνει …
Eph 1:20 Χριστῷ ἐγείρας αὐτὸν ⸀ἐκ νεκρῶν, καὶ ⸀καθίσας ἐν δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις …
Col 3:1 οὗ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ καθήμενος· τὰ ἄνω φρονεῖτε, …
Heb 1:3 καθαρισμὸν ⸂τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος⸃ ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς, …
Heb 8:1 τοιοῦτον ἔχομεν ἀρχιερέα, ὃς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θρόνου τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν τοῖς …
Heb 10:12 προσενέγκας θυσίαν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ λοιπὸν ἐκδεχόμενος ἕως …
Heb 12:2 … ὑπέμεινεν σταυρὸν αἰσχύνης καταφρονήσας, ἐν δεξιᾷ τε τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ κεκάθικεν.
1 Pet 3:22 δι’ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν ἐν ⸀δεξιᾷ θεοῦ πορευθεὶς εἰς οὐρανὸν ὑποταγέντων …
The 1 Pet 3:22 case is the most interesting as it is the only one with an anarthrous genitive. This is the reading of the SBL GNT but the NA27 reads [τοῦ] θεοῦ, and the NA28 reads it without the brackets, indicating textual uncertainty. In other words, we have a text-critical issue, with the shorter reading supported by only three manuscripts 01* (א), B, and Ψ, all the rest reading the longer τοῦ θεοῦ. In my own research B is a very good witnesses to the text of 1 Peter, but less so for 01 and Ψ and in any case these witnesses are not so closely related, suggesting that the accidental omission of this article was independent and, inferentially, not uncommon. Furthermore, B's omission of small words that do not affect the sense is well noted. As a result I am inclined to read the article, and 1 Pet 3:22 is no longer the odd one out.

What's interesting about all these example is the apparent violation of Apollonius's Canon, which describes a preference in Greek for genitives to have the same articulation as their head noun. Yet here, δεξιᾷ is bare and the genitives marked as definite. Furthermore, all of these examples are semantically bleached. They does not refer to a literal right hand, but to an area on the right (where the right hand is). See BDAG δεξιός 1b. Because δεξιᾷ is so semantically bleached that were not really dealing with a noun but an improper or compound preposition ἐν δεξιᾷ meaning "at/on the right (of)" its landmark. Indeed, the great Greek-Spanish dictionary DGE even has a univerbated entry ἐνδεξιᾷ for an adverb with just this sense.

As a result, the relevant instances of ἐν with an identifiable δεξιᾷ are marked with the article, with due allowance to a more common specialized construction that arguably could be spelled ἐνδεξιᾷ.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

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