(no subject)

From: Don Wilkins (dwilkins@ucr.campus.mci.net)
Date: Sat May 23 1998 - 16:41:20 EDT

This issue has long been a hobby horse for me, so I'd like to add a few
comments to Jim's.

At 02:11 PM 5/23/98 -0400, you wrote:
>At 10:57 AM 5/23/98 -0500, you wrote:
>>Hi Everyone,
>>I have a question with which I need a bit of help.
>>Since the genitive and ablative cases share endings, how is one to
>>distinguish which is being used by a N.T.
>>writer? Is referring to the context the only
>Essentially yes. Though, honestly, the ablative is falling out of strict
>usage by the koine period- it still appears.

This is the inherent problem with the 8-case system approach, which I was
personally weaned on. One should not have to parse based on context! We
infer meaning from lexical elements and syntax, and when we are forced to
parse from context our interpretation actually dictates the parsing (within
limits). Thus the tail is wagging the dog. Jim is essentially right about
the ablative, but I'm not aware of any Classical or post-Classical Greek in
which the ablative used as Summers foolishly does below is significant (I'm
ignoring Homer, but I'm not even sure we see much of it there, and in any
case we are talking about prose; I would be grateful if Jim, Carl, or other
scholars on the list could correct me on this point). True, one has to do
this kind of parsing to some extent even with the five cases (distinguishing
neuter plural nominatives from accusatives, etc.), but this is not the sort
of thing that should be encouraged. Moreover, an 8-case advocate would
disagree with Jim, stating e.g. that the other three cases are prevalent
everywhere at all times. I.e. APO + the genitive is really APO + ablative,
and so on.

> For
>>example, in Summer's Grammar, under the heading of the ablative, he
>>gives a sentence to illustrate what the ablative is, and that sentence is
>>as follows:
>>hO ANQRWPOS PEMPEI TOUS DOULOS TOU OIKOU = "the man sends the servants
>>from the house" (Summers
>>Why is this not genitive, i.e. "he sends the servants of the house"?
>Indeed, it very well could be. But the context seems to demand a genitive
>translation. This is a good reminder that the cases do not always solve
>translational ambiguities.

I suspect Jim meant that Wayne is right and that a genitive translation is
better for the context, otherwise Jim probably meant to say that the
*ablative* is demanded by the context, defined as it is by Summers. But here
Summers is misleading the student into thinking that s/he should expect such
constructions, for the sake of impressing on the student his explanation of
the ablative (which was probably taken from other 8-case grammarians). And
this is hardly the only problem in Summers (my favorite blooper is his
explanation of AKOUW with the genitive vs. the accusative).

>>If the prepositions requiring a ablative interpretation (APO, EK, and
>>PARA) are not used, as in the above example, why does Summers render
>>this as ablative?
>Again, because the context seems to require it.

Wayne's question underscores the fatal error in Summers' approach. True, as
Jim says, the context seems to require it, but in this case it is because
the example is one of Summers' own invention. Here again, others may be able
to recall actual contexts of this nature, but my sense of the situation is
that appropriate prespositions *are* called for with the "ablative" except
in very unusual instances or perhaps when a verb compounded with the
appropriate preposition is used without a following preposition. I don't
recall off-hand if Summers has any good NT examples to back up his approach
(I don't have a copy of Summers handy), but even if so I would think he
would be using unusual examples to misillustrate the general usage of the
cases, much as he does in discussing the use of AKOUW.

>>Thanks for your counsel.
>>Wayne Price
>Jim West, ThD
>Quartz Hill School of Theology

I hope my tone hasn't offended anyone; I tend to get passionate about
certain issues and go overboard. And if I have misjudged Summers, my goal
would be--like Plato's Socrates--to be corrected and become a better man for it.

Don Wilkins

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