From: Carl W. Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Feb 16 1996 - 09:26:20 EST
On 2/15/96, David Moore wrote:
> On Thu, 15 Feb 1996, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
> > 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
> > ESTIN AGAQOS.
> That sounds correct., But the example is not completely parallel
> to the sentence with nominative arthrous nouns joined by a verb of "to
> be" in third person. Let's say that what we wanted to say was, "That man
> is the good one." The word order would more probably be hO ANQRWPOS
> ESTIN hO AGAQOS rather than hO AGAQWS ESTIN hO ANQRWPOS. The latter, at
> least IMO, would usually mean something like, "The good one is that man."
> The first would tend to be found in a context in which there had been
> discussion of the man; the second, in a context that had been discussing
> what is good.
> The construction anarthrous nominative - linking verb - arthrous
> nominative does call for the major emphasis on the second nominative
> noun, normally making it the subject, _a la_ Jn. 1:1.
David, my apologies for an immense display of immense ignorance on my part.
I'm beginning to feel like the Bavarian peasant in the opera at Munich (old
joke) who turned to the guy in the next seat, scratched his head and said,
"y'know, half of it I don't understand, and the half I understand--I don't
understand that either!"
There's something very strange going on with the distribution at
email@example.com are responding to my earlier response to your
earlier note here--but my later response returned to me long before my
earlier one did--and in my later response, I said that I had done a quick
check in Romans, Luke, and Hebrew of all instances of ESTI(N) and
EISI(N)--which should yield up all linkages of subject + predicate
word--and could find no really discernible pattern of word-order. I want to
re-examine that data this morning, but it is pretty evident that any
observations I may have had (on this matter, at least) from classical Attic
are altogether irrelevant to the Greek of the NT.
With regard to your most recent comments above, I would note that you're
not likely to see either of the alternatives you propose: hO ANQRWPOS ESTIN
hO AGAQOS or hO AGAQOS ESTIN hO ANQRWPOS. What you'd have as a subject
would be (just possibly) EKEINOS hO ANQRWPOS or (much more likely) simply
EKEINOS--and it wouldn't make a bit of difference which of the two items
preceded ESTI(N), because EKEINOS is a demonstrative and must be the
As for John 1:1, I assume you refer to the third clause (1:1c): QEOS HN hO
LOGOS (I suppose we shall never go a month without having a discussion of
this verse!). This is precisely the word-order that I was trying, in my
ignorance, to assert as "normal, barring rhetorical rearrangement" for
Greek: predicate-word /copula/ subject. And while I would agree that hO
LOGOS is the subject in John 1:1c, I'm afraid I'd have to argue that QEOS
is the emphatic element there.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
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