From: Adam, Professor AKM (AKM.Adam@PTSEM.EDU)
Date: Tue Sep 22 1998 - 08:52:32 EDT
I'm generally sympathetic with Clayton's defense of NT Greek. The standard
of "bad grammar" should be its incapacity to fulfill the hope that writer
and reader are both satisfied that they have communicated with one
another--and I think that most of the NT is pretty innocent in that respect.
At the same time, I'm uncomfortable with claims that seem to fend off the
possibility of describing particular constructions as "grammatical errors."
I don't have a problem with thinking of attraction of the relative pronoun,
lapse of agreement between subject and object, constructio ad sensum, and
several others as fair examples of "mistakes." Or is there a rule that
stipulates when an author *ought* to assign relative pronouns a case that
conflicts with its role in its own clause?
To cast the situation slightly differently: I see heaps of papers by
more-or-less well-educated students. Almost all of these papers have what I
would call "grammatical mistakes," constructions that violate canons of
well-constructed sentences (subject/object disagreement, ambiguous pronoun
reference, anacolouthon, sentence fragments, improper use of subordinating
conjunctions). I can almost always figure out what my students are getting
at, but that doesn't make their syntax "good"; it means that a few
grammatical lapses are not sufficient to disrupt our aspiration to
understanding one another.
So if there are grammatical mistakes in the NT, they fall well within the
bounds of what I've come to expect of literate--but not prissy--composition.
And as Carl points out, some of these constructions are positively
brilliant. (As is the notorious sports solecism, "We was robbed!"--to return
to the really important mattes of the day.)
Grace and peace,
A K M Adam
Princeton Theological Seminary
"Violent zeal for truth hath an hundred to one odds to be either petulancy,
ambition, or pride."
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