Re: mass/count nouns and SARX

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Mon Sep 08 1997 - 17:09:48 EDT

At 12:37 PM 9/8/97 -0700, lakr wrote:
>Dear B-Greekers,
>I recently added the definition of mass and count (nouns) to the
>long list of things respecting Koine Greek that I have never heard of
>before. As a result I've been trying to get a grasp on this subject
>and have uncovered yet another delightful tidbit that is new to me.
>On Perseus, when looking at the different inflections of the verb they
>list in addition to the normal singular and plural, a _dual_ category.

You won't ever find it in the New Testament - the dual was used in Classical
Greek to refer to two things, usually two things which form a pair, e.g. a
pair of eyes. It was somewhat rare, and had disappeared by the time of the
New Testament. I think Homer used it a lot. (I know all this from Smyth,
since I've read very little classical, and find Homer incomprehensible, even
if I do peek at the Greek every once in a while now that I'm reading the

>In John 17:2 Jesus is given 'EXOUSIAN PASHS SARKOS', and SARKOS is
>in the singular, yet it applies to 'all flesh'.
This is true for both the Greek and the English.

>Is this type of
>phenomenon to be expected in other words which can be classified as
>'mass' nouns. ? I regret that my introductory grammar never taught
>me this, and I have yet to purchase or pick an intermediate grammar.

Well, it is true that flesh is a mass noun, since you can't have two
fleshes, but I think it is also important to realize that this is a
metaphorical usage - "all flesh" does not mean the sum total of all flesh on
earth, leaving out the spirit and maybe leaving out the bones.


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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