b-greek-digest V1 #245 -Reply

From: Randy Leedy (RLEEDY@wpo.bju.edu)
Date: Tue Jun 04 1996 - 10:01:40 EDT

Someone has asked for bibliography on Greek word order related to
emphasis. Modest as it is, I wrote a Ph.D. dissertation at Bob Jones
University entitled "Greek Word Order and Rhetorical Emphasis in the
Epistle to the Hebrews" (1991). I studied a variety of syntactically
related word pairs (pairs simplify analysis in that they involve only
two possible orderings) such as Subject/Verb, Verb/Object,
Subject/Object, Noun/Adjective, etc. The first stage involved
generating statistics on the orderings, establishing a "most common"
order, which I very tentatively called "unmarked." Putting that line
of investigation on hold, I worked through Hebrews in an English
translation, identifying words that are emphatic for a variety of
reasons (e.g. they point up a contrast, introduce a new topic, etc.).
Then I examined the placement of these words to see whether they were
in the tentatively identified marked order.

By the way, I didn't find a great deal of helpful literature. The
"Discovery Bible" New Testament, edited by Gary Hill and Gleason
Archer, contains a bibliography. I see, though, from yesterday's
posts on the subject, that the body of literature has grown somewhat
in the '90s.

I can't go into the subtleties of analysis without rewriting the
dissertation here; however, I can say that I found a greater
correspondence between emphasis and marked order than I feared I
might. But the size of my literary sample is far to small to be
dogmatic about the general validity of the findings. I suspect that
the greatest value of the study is its demonstration (perhaps
confirmation) of the difficulty involved in objectifying this feature
of the Greek language. Word order is definitely a stylistic feature,
and style will always be subjective in nature. How could you hope to
analyze statistically the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? I suppose
you could measure the volume of the various colors of paint, the
surface area covered by each color, the rate of transition from one
color to another (i.e. the sharpness of the borders) the various
angles used to provide perspective, etc. But art is art, not science,
and you just can't analyze art scientifically, at least not if you
hope to preserve its character as art. What one needs in order to
appreciate art is a keen sense of when to stop analyzing and simply

Will someone wish to take issue with what I just wrote? I'll be
interested to see what the responses are like.

In Love to God and Neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC

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