Re: Ephesians 4:10

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Feb 15 1996 - 14:35:35 EST

On 2/15/96, David Moore wrote:

> "Carl W. Conrad" <> wrote:
> >(1) If you have two article-nominative phrases athwart a copula, the second
> >MAY but NEED NOT be the subject (because Greek word-order has a definite
> >tendency to put the predicate word first in a noun sentence--BUT rhetorical
> >emphasis can interfere at any point with that tendency so that the subject
> >may be first after all for the sake of emphasis.
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> The statement, "Greek word-order has a definite tendency to put
> the predicate word first in a noun sentence--BUT rhetorical emphasis can
> interfere at any point with that tendency so that the subject may be first
> after all for the sake of emphasis," is puzzling. First, because I'm
> unclear on what is meant by "a noun sentence" (I'll assume it's a sentence
> similar in structure to the one under discussion), and, second, because
> sentences with this structure in the NT seem to usually use the first
> arthrous noun as the subject and the second as the predicate nominative.
> In a Gramcord search for nominative arthrous nouns or participles
> joined by the third person of EIMI, all the sentences with a clearly
> defined subject used the first noun as subject and the second as predicate
> nominative. In this class were Mat 13:38; Luke 8:11; 1 Jn. 3:4; Rev.
> 17:18. Others were not as clear-cut, but none of these seemed to demand
> using the second arthrous noun as the subject. Cf. Mat. 6:22; Mark 7:15;
> Luke 11:34; Rev. 18:23.
> I realize Carl has a wide scope of knowledge in Greek literature,
> and I suppose his comments are based on that knowledge, but the NT
> evidence doesn't seem to support the same conclusions - or is there
> something I'm missing here?

I should have known better than to state a principle like that, and I
certainly should have known better than to use the term "noun sentence," a
term that I have seen far-too-little used to expect anyone to know what I
meant. What I did mean was a sentence linking a subject with a predicate
word, whether the predicate word be a noun, a pronoun, an adjective or a
substantive such as an articular participle or infinitive.

In the second place, I think I was putting the cart before the horse
(typing before thinking?) in asserting that the normal word order in what I
had called a "noun sentence" was PredicateWord-copula-Subject and then
qualifying it by saying that rhetorical emphasis could alter or reverse
this order. What I really ought to have said is that the initial position
in the sentence tends to be the position of greatest (rhetorical) emphasis
and that the predicate word does tend to be the more emphatic element in
this sort of sentence. Now, I'm not sure that I can prove this to be true
for classical Attic, although I could readily enough take a large enough
sampling of prose authors and do a count. I haven't counted, of course; I
can only say it's my observation that this is a tendence: one finds
AGAQOS ESTIN hO ANQRWPOS far more frequently than one finds hO ANQRWPOS

I'd be curious to do such a check as David did on the sequence
arthrous-noun/copula/arthrous-noun on my proposition of
predicate-word/copula/subject. I don't have the right instrument to do
that, but I might just try it with forms of the verb EINAI.

I'm still inclined to think that when a copula links two nouns, it doesn't
really make much difference which noun one deems the subject.

Looking back once again at our passage in question, Eph 4:10 the only think
I feel very confident of at present is that hO KATABAS AUTOS is indeed the
emphatic element in this equation. Otherwise, I repent me in sackcloth and
ashes and shall make no more dogmatic statements, at least not until my
next post ;-)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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