Re: RE: EN + dative in Eph 5:18

From: Clayton Bartholomew (
Date: Wed May 07 1997 - 08:56:13 EDT

Andrew Kulikovsky wrote:
But your interpretation is ruled out by the extreme improbability or
impossibility of EN+dative indicating the *content* of filling.

Andrew's statement raises some basic questions about the nature of
language. It seems like the folks posting on the b-Greek list are not
all from the same school of linguistics. This causes some problems with
the clarity of the discussion because the disagreements are often not at
the surface but really about very fundamental issues.

I see in Andrew's statement a confusion of the formal and functional
level of syntax. Just as many of us would find concordant translation
offensive, violating our understanding of lexical semantics, it seems
incorrect to me to say that it is impossible for EN+dative to indicate
the *content* of filling. I don't mean that it is simply an incorrect
interpretation of this verse, rather that is incorrect methodology which
reflects a notion of the relationship between syntax and semantics which
has been proven inoperative.

I would suggest that Chomsky was correct in stressing the arbitrary
relationship between syntax and semantics. Now the word arbitrary here
is used in the same way it is used in lexical semantics. It means that a
syntactical pattern maps to a semantic domain, which like lexical
semantic domains is somewhat fuzzy on the edges. This fuzziness does
not spell the end to all exegesis. It does not mean that a syntactical
pattern can be used just any old way. But it does mean that the meaning
of the utterance is not tied directly to the semantic pattern. It does
mean that statements like: it is impossible for EN+dative to indicate
the *content* of filling, are dubious statements.

Rereading my discussion above I am not satisfied that I have stated my
case very well. Are there any linguists out there that can say this
better than I did?

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point

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