From: Carl W. Conrad (email@example.com)
Date: Sat Apr 24 1999 - 08:17:45 EDT
At 5:54 AM -0500 4/24/99, Moon-Ryul Jung wrote:
>I have some elementary questions on the usage of participles. Some of the
>seem closely related and others are not.
>1. Attributive adjectivals without the article.
>The attribute position of adjectives is known to require the article in
>front of them, e.g. in
>hO KALOS AGGELOS or hO AGGELOS hO KALOS. But there are some cases where
>is violated. E.g.:
>Rom 8:24: ELPIS DE BLEPOMENH OUK ESTIN ELPIS. "hope that is seen"
>Mk 5:36: hO DE IHSOUS PARAKOUSAS TON LOGON LALOUMENON LEGEI...
> "the word that is spoken"
The rule you've cited is meant to characterize and DISTINGUISH the function
of qualifying words or phrases when the qualifying words or phrases must be
understood as attributive FROM instances where the function of such words
or phrases must be understood as PREDICATIVE. The participle in these two
verses is NOT attributive but PREDICATIVE, meaning that it has to be
understood adverbially with the predicate of the sentence; in English these
seem often to work best--or be most clearly grasped--when translated as
ELPIS DE BLEPOMENH OUK ESTIN ELPIS: "Hope is NOT hope IF (WHEN) it
is seen." PARAKOUSAS TON LOGON LALOUMENON: " ... upon overhearing the word
WHILE (WHEN) it was being spoken ..."
>These examples raised some questions to me.
>1.1. Is this "violation of the rule" quite often, especially in the case
>1.2. Is there NO difference bewteen the attributive expressions with the
>those without the article?
There is in fact a significant and important difference, but it is one that
can readily be missed in instances where a relative clause is used in the
target language (perhaps I should limit this to English?) to translate a
participle in predicative position: the participle used in an English
relative clause is ambiguous in a way that it isn't in the Greek.
>1.3. Is AGGELOS hO KALOS legal? If so, should I translate it as "the
>good angel" or
>"a good angel"?
I'm not a lawyer, but I think you mean: does it conform to the rule? And
the answer is yes. The problem is with the English, not with the Greek:
either of these English phrases is appropriate, but English has an
indefinite article ('a,' 'an') which ancient Greek did not have (although
the indefinite pronoun TIS functioned in some ways like the English
indefinite article).So either of those phrases is proper, but you could NOT
translate it as "The angel IS good" or "An angel IS good." I really think
that the problems here have more to do with English than with Greek.
>1.4. Is AGGELOS KALOS legal? If so, can it mean "a good angel"?
This quite frankly is more ambiguous; in poetry or in a proverbial
expression it might very well mean "a good angel" but it could just as well
mean "An angel is good" or "The angel is good." That is to say: in good
("legal") Greek prose the article would be used to make a clear distinction
and indicate whether the adjective is attributive or alternatively is
predicating something about the subject; i.e. AGGELOS hO KALOS can only be
attributive: "the good angel," but KALOS hO AGGELOS can only be
predicative: "The angel is good."
>2. Explicit subjects of attributive participle clauses??
>Consider Mt 2:7: HKRIBWSEN TON CRONON TOU FAINOMENOU ASTEROS
>(he asked the time of the star's appearing).
>Here I take FAINOUMENOU ASTEROS as a participle clause with the article
>in front of it. The genitive ASTEROS plays the role of the subject of
>Is this analysis correct? Are there other examples similar to this?
>Or should we take TOU FAINOUMENOU ASTEROS to mean "of the star that
>But "the time of the star that appeared" does not make sense to me.
Personally I wouldn't use the term "participial clause" but would refer
rather to a "participial phrase," my reason being that when a participle
functions like an attributive adjective, it does NOT simultaneously
function as a predicate to the substantive with which it agrees. I'd say of
the verse you've cited that the whole genitive phrase TOU FAINOMENOU
ASTEROS depends upon CRONON, but that within the phrase FAINOMENOU is
attributive to ASTEROS. In English it IS normally legitimate to translate
an attributive participle with a relative clause, so: "of the appearing
star" = "of the star that appears." Now IF the phrase were written TOU
ASTEROS FAINOMENOU, the participle would be in predicative position and the
phrase might legitimately be conveyed by "of the star WHEN it appears." Let
me reiterate that I think the problems here are with English usage rather
than with the Greek usage. I don't know how Korean handles instances of
this, but English "a star shining in the night" is ambiguous in a way that
Greek ASTHR hH NUKTI FAINOMENH or ASTHR NUKTI FAINOMENH is NOT ambiguous.
ASTHR hH NUKTI FAINOMENH can only mean "a star that shines at night" and
ASTHR NUKTI FAINOMENH would normally be understood as "a star when it
shines at night." I've been mulling over in my mind the way those
ambiguities of English usage permeate the lovely phrasing of John Keats'
"Ode on a Grecian Urn":
"Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter;
therefore, ye soft pipes, play on."
I'm not so sure that "heard" and "unheard" in this line can be conveyed
into clear Greek without some loss of meaning. You might write, hHDEA TA
MELH hOTAN AKOUHi TIS, hHDUTERA DE hOSA AN TIS MH AKOUHi; that would convey
a predicative sense of the participles, or you might write hHDEA TA MELH TA
AKOUOMENA (the particular ones that are being heard), hHDUTERA DE (TA MELH)
TA MH AKOUOMENA (the particular ones that are not being heard) to convey an
attributive sense of the participles. I don't want to make a distinct
thread about this so much as to say that English is generally more
ambiguous than Greek generally is (and I use the adverb "generally" with
>3. Complementary participles after ARCOMAI (begin)?
>On recent posts on Lk 7:45 there were discussions on "complementary
> used after verbs of ceasing: DIELIPEN KATAFILUOUSA (stop kissing]. I
> complementary participles can be used after verbs of beginning.
> This question was raised by the way most translations take Mk 2:23b.
>2:23a KAI EGENETO AUTON EN TOIS SABBASIN PARAPOREUESQAI DIA TWN SPORIMWN
>2:23b: KAI hOI MAQHTAI AUTOU HRXANTO hODON POIEIN TILLONTES TOUS STACUAS.
>Most translations took 2:23n to mean "and his disciples began, as they
>to pluck the ears."
>My initial attempt was "his disciples began to make their way plucking the
>The "official translations" take the infinitive clause hODON POIEIN as a
>even though there is no preposition in front of it, e.g. EN TWi. I wonder
>if this translation
>is grammatically possible.
I haven't even looked at the translations, "official" or other, but my
immediate reaction is to think that YOUR instinct is right here, that here
hODON POIEIN is a complementary infinitive TO HRXANTO, while TILLONTES must
be understood in this instance not as a complementary but as a predicative,
i.e. adverbial participle: "They began to tread a path (through the
grainfield) as they were stripping the ears of grain." Of course, we have
the sort of farming where the seed is not sown in rows but broadcast on the
field before any plowing, so that the disciples in this strange episode are
making rows as they walk through the grainfield (I picture them as armed
with machetes hacking their way through a jungle, but that, of course, is
I think I may have said that ARCOMAI took a complementary participle a day
or two ago; that was a mistake; PAUOMAI is used that way and I think that
DIELIPEN in Lk 7:45 cited above is more comparable to classical Attic
EPAUSATO as used with KATAFILOUSA.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
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