Particles: from Homer to the Apocalypse

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Sun Nov 08 1998 - 15:24:45 EST

Moving back and forth between the NT and Homer leaves my head spinning. The
language of Homer seems to be about 30% particles. The syntactical function
and/or meaning of these words is often maddeningly difficult to pin down, even
with the aid of such notable reference works as Smyth, Monro, and Denniston.

I am speculating that one reason the use of particles has diminished
significantly in the NT period is the international character of the Koine.
The particles of the Homeric and Attic periods didn't travel well. Those who
spoke Koine as a second language found that they could get along fine with a
truncated syntax.

Moving backward through the history of Greek from a document like the
Apocalypse of John, through the Attic authors and finally to Homer produces a
kind of syntactical vertigo. I can make sense out of Homer with a lot of work,
but I am still reading Homer as if it were Koine. What I mean by this is I
tend to factor out the features of the language (e.g., particles) which are
not prevalent in Koine.

I am not sure that there is any quick fix for this problem.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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