Luke 7:2,3 (prominence: discourse and clause)

From: Bill and Stephanie Black (
Date: Mon Mar 22 1999 - 06:04:16 EST

> A clause constituent (e.g., noun, adjective, verb) gains in discourse
> prominence as it moves to the left of the clause...

> ...hEKATONTARCOU has a high level of discourse
> prominence. This makes a certain amount of sense. Since the impending
> death of the servant is certainly prominent in the clause and the
> Centurion is certainly prominent in the pericope.
> The use of zero anaphora in Luke 7:3 (i.e., the omission of an explicit
> subject, noun, pronoun, etc.) is somewhat less disruptive in view of the
> position of hEKATONTARCOU in the previous verse. The clause initial
> position of hEKATONTARCOU has announced to the reader: "This is a main
> participant in this story." Note that hEKATONTARCOU is not only clause
> initial but it is also *pericope initial. I would guess that this does
> not reduce but enhances the prominence of hEKATONTARCOU within the
> pericope.

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

I think Clayton has a good point, well illustrated. A similar use of
a genitive can be found in Mt 1:18, TOU DE IHSOU CRISTOU hH GENESIS
hOUWS HN. The grammatical subject of the next sentence is Mary, the
subject of the sentence after that (v. 19) is Joseph, and of the one after
that (v. 20) is an angel, but the prominence of the genitive TOU IHSOU
CRISTOU as clause initial and pericope initial indicates that it is
Jesus himself and his origin that is of interest here. Commentators
have long noted this unusual word order. In Matthew's Gospel at
least, placing a genitive modifier like this at the beginning of a narrative
sentence (by narrative I mean the storytelling 'framework' of the gospel,
not quoted speech or exposition) is quite rare, Mt 10.2 being the only
other example I can think of, excluding genitive absolute participles.

Stephanie Black
Tyndale House
Cambridge, UK

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