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

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Mon Mar 22 1999 - 14:20:24 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

Many thanks to Stephanie Black for pointing out two similar cases in
Matt. 1:18 and 10.2. I looked these over this morning and noted that
both of these passages leave no doubt in the readers mind about who the
subject is in the immediately following clauses. So the point of
similarity is the clause initial genitive which indicates prominence in
the pericope.

If anyone can point another case like Luke 7:2-3 where an oblique case
is clause initial followed one or more clauses later by a shift in
subject with zero anaphora, where the subject of the verb is
coreferential with the oblique case, this would be worth reporting as
well. (This sentence is a little opaque, I admit it.)

There are a few more observations to make about Luke 7:2-3. Typically
when a passage is hard to read you will find some manuscripts which try
to clean it up and make it readable. The Byzantine manuscripts and Codex
Bezae are prone to do this. I was able to find only one *manuscript that
tried to relieve the zero anaphora problem:

Psi (044) in Luke 7:3 reads: hOUTOS AKOUSAS PERI TOU IHSOU . . .

I would tentatively conclude from this that the zero anaphora in this
passage presented no real problem for any of the ancient readership.

There is one more reason why this text is readable in spite of the zero
anaphora in 7:3. The relative clause at the end of 7:2
 hOS HN AUTWi ENTIMOS encodes the centurion as the agent. Even though
this dative pronoun is buried in a subordinate clause, thus making it
rather low profile in terms of prominence, the physical proximity to the
participle in AKOUSAS PERI TOU IHSOU, where the question comes up "who
is hearing about Jesus?," helps the reader make the linkage back to

This relative clause is, however, a double edged sword because one
might ask: How do we know that AUTWi is coreferential with
hEKATONTARCOU? If this objection is raised then we will need to fall
back on the prominence of hEKATONTARCOU which was illustrated earlier.

Thanks again to Stephanie Black for her insightful response.


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

*This reading was found in Ruben Swanson's "New Testament Greek Manuscripts." You will search in vain for it in NA27.

--- B-Greek home page: You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: [] To unsubscribe, forward this message to To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:21 EDT