Neuter Definite Article + Infinitive

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Will Braun
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Joined: June 16th, 2011, 12:48 pm

Neuter Definite Article + Infinitive

Post by Will Braun » June 21st, 2011, 11:29 pm

I'm having trouble understanding a certain construction I've encountered a couple of places. It's the nominative singular definite article το plus an infinitive. For example "τὸ ζῆν" in: ἐμοὶ γὰρ τὸ ζῆν Χριστὸς καὶ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν κέρδος (Philippians 1:21)

or

"τὸ εἶναι" from James 1:18: βουληθεὶς ἀπεκύησεν ἡμᾶς λόγῳ ἀληθείας, εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἀπαρχήν τινα τῶν αὐτοῦ κτισμάτων

I don't get what that τὸ functions as. Any help you could throw my way would be appreciated.
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David Lim
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Joined: June 6th, 2011, 6:55 am

Re: Neuter Definite Article + Infinitive

Post by David Lim » June 22nd, 2011, 3:49 am

Will Braun wrote:I'm having trouble understanding a certain construction I've encountered a couple of places. It's the nominative singular definite article το plus an infinitive.
Can you tell us your guess? :) In the way I look at it (I may be inaccurate) the article in the two examples functions differently:
[Phlp 1] [21] ( εμοι ) γαρ { < το ζην > < χριστος > } και { < το αποθανειν > < κερδος > }
[Jam 1] [18] ( βουληθεις ) απεκυησεν < ημας > ( λογω αληθειας ) ( εις το { ειναι < ημας > < απαρχην ( τινα ) ( των αυτου κτισματων ) > )
In Phlp 1:21, the article "modifies" the infinitive, so what do you think the result is?
In Jam 1:18, the required structure is "εις το + ( infinitive + accusative )". In my opinion, it is of the same grammatical structure as "( preposition + singular article ) + ( infinitive + accusative )" in which the preposition and article are be one of these combinations: "εν τω" / "δια το" / "μετα το" / "εως του" / "προ του" / "εις το". (Funk's Grammar lists all except "εις το" if I remember correctly. Are there others?) Hope the list helps you guess them! ;)

By the way, does anyone think that it might be helpful to break down clauses like this? I used "<>" for noun clauses, "{}" for verb clauses, and "()" for modifying clauses like adverbial or adjectival ones. It might help us to describe sentence structure more easily and in-place.
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δαυιδ λιμ

cwconrad
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Re: Neuter Definite Article + Infinitive

Post by cwconrad » June 22nd, 2011, 5:46 am

Will Braun wrote:I'm having trouble understanding a certain construction I've encountered a couple of places. It's the nominative singular definite article το plus an infinitive. For example "τὸ ζῆν" in: ἐμοὶ γὰρ τὸ ζῆν Χριστὸς καὶ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν κέρδος (Philippians 1:21)

or

"τὸ εἶναι" from James 1:18: βουληθεὶς ἀπεκύησεν ἡμᾶς λόγῳ ἀληθείας, εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἀπαρχήν τινα τῶν αὐτοῦ κτισμάτων

I don't get what that τὸ functions as. Any help you could throw my way would be appreciated.
This usage is commonly referred to as the "articular infinitive." It is standard usage since the era of Classical Greek. The infinitive is a neuter noun and so takes the neuter article so that it can be used as a singular substantive in all the cases -- nom,, gen., dat., acc. Funk BIGHG deals with the articular infinitive in §§0833ff. (Lesson 57, http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/project/f ... on-57.html). Or see Smyth, §2025ff. (http://artflx.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/phil ... monographs). Usage of the articular noun is so common a feature of ancient Greek that you will meet it repeatedly and soon become initimately familiar with it., perhaps most especially in the dative expressions like ἐν τῷ πορεύεσθαι αὐτὸν ... or in infinitive expressions of purpose τοῦ ἐρωτᾶν τοὺς ἀγγέλους ...
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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)

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