Re: Mark 4-3- a sower/the s

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Wed Jun 18 1997 - 01:54:29 EDT

I wrote regarding the use of the article with SPEIRWN in Mark 4:3:

>>The presence of the article in this context may be a literary device used
>>to bring about a desired effect. Using the article on the first mention of
>>the sower would give the impression that Jesus was starting in the middle
>>of the story. This could be a very useful implication for drawing interest
>>(either at the time the parable was told, if Jesus told it in Greek, or at
>>the time it was read in the early church). If I remember right, it's a
>>device used in several of the parables.

And Carlton Winbery responded:
>I would say that the article is used here to distinguish one group from
>another, eg., Lk.10:7 "A laborer (hO ERGATHS) is worthy of his hire." The
>article denotes a group. In this situation, it is not always necessary to
>use the indefinite article in English, eg. Mt. 18:17 "Let him be to you
>like Gentiles (hO ETHNIKOS [sg]) and tax collectors (hO TELWNHS [sg]). The
>two groups are indicated even by the singular article.

Good point, Carlton. For those of you less familiar with studies of the
Greek article, this use of the article is sometimes referred to as the
'generic' article (i.e. the article indicates that the particular character
mentioned in Mark 4:3 is representative of sowers in general).

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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