Date: Thu Oct 23 1997 - 17:42:57 EDT
In a message dated 10/20/97 7:31:59 AM, you wrote:
>This thus gives the basic structure of a Greek clause as Conjunction,
>Object, Verb, Subject. Each of these should be thought of, not as words,
>but as "empty building boxes" in a particular position in the sentence
>structure, boxes which in any given clause or sentence may or may not have
>anything in them. Thus the subject in a particular clause may not be an
>external subject (i.e., a separate word from the verb) but an internal
>subject (that is, the pronoun subject at the end of the verb).
I like your concept of building boxes which may or may not be filled. Your
assertion, however, that the basic structure of a Greek clause is (ignoring
the Conjunction for reasons which I'll explain below) Object, Verb, Subject
has sent me into the text looking at clauses. This has not been my experience
with the GNT.
NOTE: In the following analyses I have ignored the various Conjunctions. This
is *not* because I think that Conjunctions are of little importance, they are
of great importance; rather, I have ignored them because I believe they are
consistently used as Ward has represented them. My main concern here, and the
sole purpose in my study, is to determine the order of the *other*
constituent parts (Object, Verb, Subject) within Greek clauses.
NOTE ALSO: I am far from being what I consider to be a scholar (BTW Ward
*does* qualify in my book). Although, with the help of the people on this
group, I think that I am making progress in that direction, I still have a
long way to go. So, if there are errors in the following analyses, I welcome
corrections (please be gentle with me) from the group.
I have started at the beginning, Matthew 1.
Verse 1 does not seem to be a complete sentence, nor even a complete clause
(without supplying a subject [hOUTOS?] and verb [OUSIN?]). Without these
constituent parts, one cannot tell where the Greek reader would mentally
supply them in the resulting sentence so I moved on.
Beginning at verse 2 and continuing down to the end of verse 6 we find one
long sentence made up of many independent clauses. Interestingly, I find that
in every case the noun subject *precedes* the verb and the object *follows*
the verb. This same pattern is repeated consistently through verse 16.
Since this is a listing of generations, perhaps copied from official records,
and not literary Greek, I looked further. Perhaps this is not the best place
to find the basic structure of Greek clauses.
17 PASAI OUN hAI GENEAI APO ABRAAM hEWS DAUID GENEAI DEKATESSARES, KAI APO
DAUID hEWS THS METOIKESIAS BABULWNOS GENEAI DEKATESSARES, KAI APO THS
METOIKESIAS BABULWNOS hEWS TOU XRISTOU GENEAI DEKATESSARES.
Verse 17 contains 3 independent clauses but no verbs (other than the cupola
OUSIN? which must be understood in each clause) so there's no help there
(again, one can't prove where the Greek reader would mentally supply it in
18 TOU DE IHSOU XRISTOU hH GENESIS hOUTWS HN. MNHSTEUQEISHS THS MHTROS AUTOU
MARIAS TWi IWSHF, PRIN H SUNELQEIN AUTOUS hEUREQH EN GASTRI EXOUSA EK
Verse 18 begins TOU...XRISTOU which modifies the noun subject hH GENESIS
followed by the adv hOUTWS (describing the manner of the birth, or how the
birth came to be) and verb HN. In this independent clause the subject
precedes the verb. Since the verb is intransitive, there is no object.
Continuing, we find a gen. abs. construction MNHSTEUQEISIS...IWSHF describing
the state of affairs in Mary and Joseph's life when Mary was found to be
pregnant. In this clause, THS MHTROS AUTOU MARIAS, which functions as the
subject of the participle, does follow MNHSTEUQEISIS. This is the first
instance that I have found where the subject of a clause follows its verb. In
the prep. phrase PRIN hH SUNELQEIN AUTOUS, which adds further temporal
information, we also find AUTOUS (the subject of the infinitive) following
In the main clause we find the subject box empty, being supplied by the
personal ending of the verb hEUREQH (she = Mary). The prep. phrase EN GASTRI
EXOUSA, which is modified by EK PNEUMATOS hAGIOU (answering the question, Who
done it?), describes the state in which she was found.
So then, in verse 18 we find the first two instances of the subject of a
clause following its verb: MNHSTEUQEISIS THS MHTROS AUTOU MARIAS and PRIN hH
SUNELQEIN AUTOUS. Both of these are *dependent* clauses. However, in every
instance of an *independent* clause, the subject (when stated) precedes the
verb which is followed by the object (when stated).
19 IWSHF DE hO ANHR AUTHS, DIKAIOS WN KAI MH QELWN AUTHN DEIGMATISAI,
EBOULHQH LAQRAi APOLUSAI AUTHN.
Verse 19 starts out with the subject IWSHF described as hO ANHR AUTHS. The
clause which follows, two participial phrases(DIKAIOS WN and MH QELWN AUTHN
DEIGMATISAI) conjoined by KAI seems to function adverbially, stating the
reason for what follows.
Again we find that, in the first of these two dependent clauses the predicate
nominative DIKAIOS precedes its verb WN. In the second, the object
DEIGMATISAI follows the verb QELWN but the object AUTHN precedes *its* verb
DEIGMATISAI. Perhaps there is a distinct tendency, within *dependent*
clauses, to prefer the word order: object, verb, subject. In *independent*
clauses, though, we have seen a preference for subject, verb, object.
The verse closes with the main verb EBOULHQH and its object APOLUSAI which is
preceded by the adverb LAQRAi and followed by its object AUTHN. Here the
main (independent part of the) sentence begins with the subject which is
followed (after the causal clauses) by the verb which is followed by the
20 TAUTA DE AUTOU ENQUMHQENTOS IDOU AGGELOS KURIOU KAT' ONAR EFANH AUTWi
LEGWN, IWSHF hUIOS DAUID, MH FOBHQHiS PARALABEIN MARIAM THN GUNAIKA SOU, TO
GAR EN AUTHi GENNHQEN EK PNEUMATOS ESTIN hAGIOU:
Verse 20 starts with a genitive absolute participial phrase TAUTA AUTOU
ENQUMHQENTOS stating either the time or attendant circumstances for what
follows. In this dependent clause we find the word order to be object
(TAUTA), subject (AUTOU), verb (ENQUMHQENTOS).
What follows is the aorist imperative IDOU which acts, I believe, almost as
an interjection (cf. the modern slang: Yo!) calling special attention to the
next clause which begins with a noun subject AGGELOS and its modifier KURIOU.
Next is KAT' ONAR which describes the manner of the angel's appearance which
is followed by the verb EFANH the indirect object AUTWi and the attendant
circumstance LEGWN. In this clause, the subject precedes the verb which,
being intransitive, has no object.
The next clause, telling what the Angel said, begins with the vocative IWSHF
further described as hUIOS DAUID. This is followed by the negative of the
verb MH FOBHQHS. It's subject is stated only by the ending of the verb (you =
Joseph) but the object PARALABEIN...SOU follows the verb. The next clause
begins with the subject TO EN AUTH GENNHQEN followed by the verb which is
peculiarly embedded in EK PNEUMATOS ESTIN hAGIOU which describes the source
I keep running across dependent clauses which begin with the subject (if
stated externally) followed by the verb followed by the object (when there is
one). There does seem to be a distinct tendency to alter this order in
dependent clauses, though.
21 TECETAI DE hUION KAI KALESEIS TO ONOMA AUTOU IHSOUN, AUTOS GAR SWSEI TON
LAON AUTOU APO TWN hAMARTIWN AUTWN.
Verse 21 continues the Angel's address to Joseph. The subject is absent,
being supplied by TECETAI (she = Mary) and the object hUION follows the verb.
KAI continues the address with the verb KALESEIS again supplying the subject,
this time you = Joseph, followed by the double object TO...IHSOUN.
The next clause again begins with the subject AUTOS followed by the verb
SWSEI followed by the object TON LAON modified by AUTOU. This is completed by
the prepositional phrase APO...AUTWN which functions adverbially (describing
from what He will save His people).
Again we find the order subject (when there is one expressed), verb, object
(when the verb is transitive).
22 TOUTO DE hOLON GEGONEN hINA PLHRWQHi TO RhHQEN hUPO KURIOU DIA TOU
Verse 22 begins with the subject TOUTO...hOLON followed by the intransitive
verb GEGONEN. In the dependent purpose clause hINA...LEGONTOS, the subject
phrase TO RhHQEN...PROFHTOU *follows* its verb PLHRWQHi.
23 IDOU hH PARQENOS EN GASTRI hECEI KAI TECETAI hUION, KAI KALESOUSIN TO
ONOMA AUTOU EMMANOUHL, hO ESTIN MEQERMHNEUOMENON MEQ' hHMWN hO QEOS.
Verse 23 is an Old Testament quote beginning with the imperative IDOU
(functioning much as in verse 20 above). This is followed by the subject hH
PARQENOS followed by the idiomatic EN GASTRI hECEI (the Greek way of saying
someone shall become pregnant). The object is not stated in the idiom (what
would the Greek for "a fetus" be?) but in this case, if it were stated, would
perhaps precede the verb (although it could as easily follow hECEI). KAI
continues the quote which keeps the same subject as hECEI, namely hH
PARQENOS, without repeating it. The object hUION follows the verb.
In the next clause the subject shifts, being internally indicated by the 3rd
person plural ending of KALESOUSIN (they = the parents, or perhaps the people
of God). The double object TO ONOMA AUTOU EMMANOUHL follows the verb. The
last clause is explanatory and parenthetical, explaining the Hebrew IMMANOUHL
with the Greek: MEQ' hHMWN hO QEOS. Here we find a dependent clause beginning
with the subject (hO) followed by the periphrastic verb ESTIN
MEQERMHNEUOMENON followed by its Greek interpretation).
24 EGERQEIS DE hO IWSHF APO TOU hUPNOU EPOIHSEN hWS PROSETACEN AUTWi hO
AGGELOS KURIOU KAI PARELABEN THN GUNAIKA AUTOU:
Verse 24 begins with the dependent temporal clause EGERQEIS...hUPNOU. In this
dependent clause, the subject follows the participle verb. The main verb
EPOIHSEN internally states the subject (being the same as the subject of the
previous clause = hO IWSHF). This is followed by the phrase hWS...KURIOU. In
this dependent clause, which tells us what Joseph did, we find that the
subject hO AGGELOS KURIOU follows the verb PROSETACEN. The final clause we
find the verb PARELABEN followed by the object THN GUNAIKA AUTOU.
25 KAI OUK EGINWSKEN AUTHN hEWS hOU ETEKEN hUION; KAI EKALESEN TO ONOMA AUTOU
Verse 25 begins with the independent clause OUK EGINWSKEN AUTHN, where the
subject is internally stated (he = Joseph) and the object follows the verb.
Next we have the dependent temporal clause, introduced by hEWS hOU, wherein
the subject (she = Mary) is only internally stated in the ending of ETEKEN
and the object hUION follows the verb.
The next clause is independent wherein the subject (he = Joseph) is
internally stated in the ending of EKALESEN and the object TO ONOMA AUTOU
IHSOUN follows the verb.
This completes my analysis of the first chapter of Matthew's gospel. My
inquiries seem to show that *independent* clauses show a definite affinity
for the order: subject (when stated), verb, object (when the verb is
transitive). Within the first chapter of Matthew's Gospel, the subject
precedes the verb in 46 of 46 independent clauses where the Subject is stated
externally (ignoring those independent clauses where the Subject is not
stated externally), or 100%. Within that same range, the object is found follo
wing the verb in 47 of 47 independent clauses where there is a stated Object
to a transitive verb (ignoring those independent clauses where the verb is
intransitive and so, has no stated Object), or 100%.
*Dependent* clauses show a tendency to change this order, with the subject
regularly following its verb (found in 6 of 7 dependent clauses where there
is a stated subject, or 85.7%) and the object preceding the verb in at least
one instance where the dependent clause states an object.
Clearly, because of the limited sample (1 chapter out of one book of the
N.T.) these results can hardly be said to be conclusive. On the other hand,
to have found *no* instance of an independent clause with the building block
order of Object, Verb, Subject certainly makes me wonder if the conclusion
Ward drew concerning Greek clauses (quoted at the beginning of this post)
doesn't need to be amended somewhat. Or, at least, that a distinction needs
to be made where *independent* clauses are concerned.
I intend to do more research in other books. If there is any interest, I will
periodically report my findings to the group.
Rev. Craig R. Harmon
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