Re: Particles: from Homer to the Apocalypse

From: Mark O'Brien (
Date: Mon Nov 09 1998 - 09:15:48 EST

At 12:24 PM 11/8/98 -0800, you wrote:
>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,
>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.

I think you may well be right here, but I'm also wondering whether there is
also the factor of genre to contend with. The poetry of Homer may have
called for grammatical and syntactical adaptions that the "simpler" genres
of the NT did not. It's a bit like the Hebrew of the Psalms, which
obviously maintains older forms and structures, not to mention just doing
things differently for poetical effect. Anyway, just a thought...



Revd. Mark B. O'Brien
Assoc. Pastor, Subiaco Church of Christ, Western Australia
Lecturer in Biblical Studies, South Perth Christian College
                                    (Sydney College of Divinity), Western
"It seems to me to be the best proof of an evangelical disposition, that
persons are not angry when reproached, and have a Christian charity for
those that ill deserve it."
                                  ... The Colloquies of Erasmus

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