εις - Indefinite Article

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Alan Patterson
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εις - Indefinite Article

Post by Alan Patterson » September 14th, 2011, 6:08 am

Hebrews 1:5 ends with the following statement:

και παλιν εγω εσομαι αυτω εις πατερα και αυτος εσται μοι εις υιον

The most common translations have something like:

I shall be to him A father and he shall be to me A son

Is it safe to say that εις needs to be examined in all contexts to see if it represents the indefinite article, or is this some specific idiom in Hebrews 1?

Also, in the Subject-Predicate Nominative construct, does this usage require the indefinite article to appear with the PN (and last?)?
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χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη,
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Re: εις - Indefinite Article

Post by cwconrad » September 14th, 2011, 6:52 am

XarisHumin wrote:Hebrews 1:5 ends with the following statement:

και παλιν εγω εσομαι αυτω εις πατερα και αυτος εσται μοι εις υιον

The most common translations have something like:

I shall be to him A father and he shall be to me A son

Is it safe to say that εις needs to be examined in all contexts to see if it represents the indefinite article, or is this some specific idiom in Hebrews 1?

Also, in the Subject-Predicate Nominative construct, does this usage require the indefinite article to appear with the PN (and last?)?
No, that's not safe to say. The usage here is a Hebraism. I think you are missing a couple items here: one factor may be that you are citing a text without diacriticals, which allows you to miss the difference between εἷς, the numeral "one" (which can in fact be used in lieu of the indefinite τις in Hellenistic Greek) and the preposition εἰς, ordinarily used with an accusative to indicate end of motion or direction. In this instance, it is clearly εἰς with the accusative (εἰς πατέρα, εἰς υἱόν). In addition, this text is not standard Hellenistic Greek but a more or less literal translation of the Hebrew text of 2 Sam 7:14 where the two prepositional phrases are "l'av" and "l'ben": "I shall be to him for a father, and he shall be to me for a son" -- i.e. we won't be actual father and son but we shall function in comparable roles of father and son to each other.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
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Ken M. Penner
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Re: εις - Indefinite Article

Post by Ken M. Penner » September 14th, 2011, 7:43 am

cwconrad wrote:In addition, this text is not standard Hellenistic Greek but a more or less literal translation of the Hebrew text of 2 Sam 7:14 where the two prepositional phrases are "l'av" and "l'ben": "I shall be to him for a father, and he shall be to me for a son" -- i.e. we won't be actual father and son but we shall function in comparable roles of father and son to each other.
Just a minor clarification here. The Hebrew preposition L- does commonly denote a change of state or condition, as in Genesis 2:7, where the Adam "was" L- a living soul (i.e., became, not functioned in a role comparable to, a living soul); see also Gen 2:10, where the river was (i.e., "turned") into four branches.
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Re: εις - Indefinite Article

Post by MAubrey » September 14th, 2011, 10:34 am

cwconrad wrote:
XarisHumin wrote:και παλιν εγω εσομαι αυτω εις πατερα και αυτος εσται μοι εις υιον

I shall be to him A father and he shall be to me A son
No, that's not safe to say. The usage here is a Hebraism. I think you are missing a couple items here: one factor may be that you are citing a text without diacriticals, which allows you to miss the difference between εἷς, the numeral "one" (which can in fact be used in lieu of the indefinite τις in Hellenistic Greek) and the preposition εἰς, ordinarily used with an accusative to indicate end of motion or direction. In this instance, it is clearly εἰς with the accusative (εἰς πατέρα, εἰς υἱόν). In addition, this text is not standard Hellenistic Greek but a more or less literal translation of the Hebrew text of 2 Sam 7:14 where the two prepositional phrases are "l'av" and "l'ben": "I shall be to him for a father, and he shall be to me for a son" -- i.e. we won't be actual father and son but we shall function in comparable roles of father and son to each other.
Is it really a Hebraism? Doesn't εἰς appear with change of state verbs in the Classical period as well?

We have sentences like the following in Herodotus (1.27.1):

ὡς δὲ ἄρα οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίῃ Ἕλληνες κατεστράφατο ἐς φόρου ἀπαγωγήν
Then, when he had subjugated all the Asiatic Greeks of the mainland and made them tributary [to him].

Now granted this isn't perfectly identical, but it seems to me that the two are close enough for what find in Hebrews to be more or less a reasonable semantic development.
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Re: εις - Indefinite Article

Post by cwconrad » September 14th, 2011, 5:40 pm

MAubrey wrote:
XarisHumin wrote:και παλιν εγω εσομαι αυτω εις πατερα και αυτος εσται μοι εις υιον

I shall be to him A father and he shall be to me A son
Is it really a Hebraism? Doesn't εἰς appear with change of state verbs in the Classical period as well?

We have sentences like the following in Herodotus (1.27.1):

ὡς δὲ ἄρα οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίῃ Ἕλληνες κατεστράφατο ἐς φόρου ἀπαγωγήν
Then, when he had subjugated all the Asiatic Greeks of the mainland and made them tributary [to him].

Now granted this isn't perfectly identical, but it seems to me that the two are close enough for what find in Hebrews to be more or less a reasonable semantic development.
For one thing, I really don't think of Greek εἶναι as a "change of state verb" -- and I would not expect to find εἶναι εἰς + acc. in a standard Greek author. I might expect it of γίνεσθαι/γενέσθαι, which certainly does function as a "change of state verb." And yes, I do think that the usage in this text in Hebrews, which is cited from 2 Sam 7, is a Hebraism. Ken has pointed to other instances of εἳναι εἰς in the LXX where a Hebrew verb "be" is used with the preposition 'l''

This brings to mind the old book of Thorleif Boman, Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek with its lengthy discussion of the difference between the stative nature of Greek εἶναι and the dynamic nature of Hebrew 'hayah.'
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

MAubrey
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Re: εις - Indefinite Article

Post by MAubrey » September 14th, 2011, 9:04 pm

cwconrad wrote:For one thing, I really don't think of Greek εἶναι as a "change of state verb" -- and I would not expect to find εἶναι εἰς + acc. in a standard Greek author. I might expect it of γίνεσθαι/γενέσθαι, which certainly does function as a "change of state verb." And yes, I do think that the usage in this text in Hebrews, which is cited from 2 Sam 7, is a Hebraism. Ken has pointed to other instances of εἳναι εἰς in the LXX where a Hebrew verb "be" is used with the preposition 'l''
Quite. εἷναι is not a dynamic verb. My point was merely that its a perfectly reasonable semantic development--εἰς with change of state verbs in the classical period extending by analogy to being used with stative verbs. If it could quite easily be a natural development, I'm not sure why there would be a need to appeal to Hebrew--granted I haven't looked at any data, but it makes perfect sense to me from what I know about semantic change. That's I'm saying.
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