Re: Omission of the Article with hElios, selEnE, anemos, ouranos

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Jun 07 1996 - 16:41:54 EDT

At 3:21 PM -0500 6/7/96, wrote:
> I often find that grammars state that "monadic nouns, such as hElios,
> do not need the article since the hearer knows that there is only
> one." However, in researching all occurrences of hElios in the GNT, it
> ALWAYS occurs with the article in the nominative case.
> Occasionally the genitive and dative hEliou and hEliw do lack the
> article. Perhaps similar to our English "I wake up at sunrise." Even
> still, the genitives and datives occur mostly WITH the article.
> As a result, it appears to me as though the omission of the article is
> more a "possibility" or "writer style" than something that should be
> held up in grammars as a "rule". I am curious as to how true this is
> with classical greek. Do words such as hElios, ouranos, anemos,
> selEnE, occur mostly with the article in the nominative as in koinE?
> Or is it more mixed than koinE?

Well, I guess that what you have to do is run a search program on those
words and see what is to be seen. I'll offer a (semi-) educated guess, that
those writers in the NT who write better Greek, i.e., who are probably
native speakers and writers of it from early childhood, are more likely to
use the article most of the time if not always, and that you're likely to
find the article omitted primarily in the writers whose frequent Semitisms
lead you to suspect that they are NOT native speakers of Greek--Mark, the
author of Revelation. HOWEVER, upon looking at Schmoller's Handkonkordanz,
I see (if I count correctly) 14 instances of hHLIOS. The only ones without
the article are:

        Lk 21:25 KAI ESONTAI SHMEIA EN hHLIWi (apocalyptic citation?)
        Acts 27:20 MHTE DE hHLIOU MHTE ASTRWN EPIFASIN (This doesn't seem
so strange)
        Rev 7:2 APO ANATOLHS hHLIOU
        Rev 22:8 OUX EXOUSIN XREIAN 'FWTOS hHLIOU' ...

3 of these are genitive, the other dative; perhaps the genitives are in
common expressions like "sunshine or starshine," "sunrise," "sunlight."

I find only one instance in Paul; it is also the ONLY NT instance of SELHNH
without the article:


and here perhaps DOKSA has that specialized sense of brilliant light, so
that here again we may have phrases that are common like "sunlight" and
"moonlight" ("rayons de soleil," "clair de lune"--?).

You know, it strikes me that I never heard of "monadic nouns" before; what
does Leibniz have to say about them?

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

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