Re: Off-topc: Where's the verb??

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Feb 23 1997 - 08:16:42 EST

At 11:41 PM -0600 2/22/97, kdlitwak wrote:
>I would appreciate some help on a little non-NT Greek please.
>Lucian, How to Write History, #34, has the following as the first half
>of sentence. Since it ends with a semi-colon it should be able to stand
>by itself, but if so, where's the verb?
>THis says something like "Therefore these unskillful things having no
>lack of anything of me as a counsellor." There's a verb missing
>somewhere and I left nothing out. Of course, ATECNA may do something
>else, like "These things are unskillful". Of course, ATECNA is a
>problem in any case because referring to TAUTA as unskillful doesn't
>make any sense in the context in which Lucian has been discussing
>necessar skills for the best historians.

Ken, even in NT Koine a form of "to be" can regularly be omitted when it
can be understood. One of the neat things I recall about Funk's
out-of-print Koine Introductory Grammar is his beginning his section of
sentence syntax by noting that all that is needed for a sentence is a
subject and a predicate; the predicate may be a verb, but it may be simply
a predicate adjective or noun, in which case the copulative verb is omitted
and we have what may be (and often is) called a "nominal sentence"--not
because it is a senence "in name only," but because both its subject and
its present consist solely of nominal elements.

intelligible as soon as you supply the implicit but unexpressed ESTI thus:

        "These (matters) then are non-technical [extraneous to the
historian's craft) and do not at all call for my advice {lit. "not at all
requiring (DEOMENA) me as advisor")}."

> Speaking of those skills and writing style, I am wondering about
>something. If "Luke" is trying to imitate the epitome of Greek
>historiography, THucydides, why is Luke's Greek SO MUCH easier than
>THucydides or Lucian's? Lackof education? Not appropriate in the 1st
>cent. CE? What? Thanks.

Fundamentally Luke is not imitating Thucydides' STYLE--and in those few
places where he pretty clearly DOES imitate Thucydides' style, as, for
example, in the opening verses of the gospel, he is NOT significantly
easier than Thucydides. What he imitates of Thucydides is more the
methodology of narrative historiography, involving in part the painstaking
care to provide the reader with contextual data sufficient to verify his
assertions (dates, contemporary circumstances--unfortunately this is where
Luke sometimes reveals that his sources are not fully informed), involving
also (among other things) the use of composed speeches to expound
motivations underlying actions of central figures in events, if the
original speeches are not available to the writer.

Nobody writes like Thucydides, period. Or I should say, the style of the
speeches in Thucydides is rhetorical in an utterly unique and inimitable
way; the narration of events in Thucydides is, in fact, not much more
difficult than the narration of events in Luke. As for Lucian, remember
that he is SECOND century and that he deliberately casts his syntax and
style in the fashion of fifth and fourth-century B.C. classical Attic
writers. I think that if Luke had been writing in the second century of our
era, his Greek would probably be very much like that of Lucian.

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

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