RE: Incidence of article with NT names

From: Joe A. Friberg (
Date: Thu Jun 24 1999 - 00:53:36 EDT

I'm afraid I am really on the tail-end of this discussion. I'm new on the
b-greek mail list, and received the last two emails on this subject, but had
to wait to retreive the prior emails due to the server problem today.
Nevertheless, the subject intrigued me, and I had a few comments to add.

Micheal Palmer (June 21, 1999 10:16 PM) referenced Steven Levinson who on
the subject of participant reference noted:
> the article
> is included
> when the identity of the person named has already been established earlier
> in the context or for some other reason does not stand out as particularly
> salient. The article is omitted when the name is first introduced into the
> narrative--unless for some reason the name is to be expected--as well as
> when for any other reason it should be taken as salient.

I would like to focus on the absence of the article from the occurence of a
name introducing a participant into the narrative for the first time. (On
this point I'm in agreement w/ Levinson; I'm unprepared to address the
'salience' proposal.) Even when the person is well known, s/he is first
introduced w/ an anarthrous noun/PN. Cf. Mk 1.9, where Jesus first enters
upon the stage as an participant, we find HLQEH IHSOUS APO NAZARET THS
GALILAIAS; subsequently his name occurs with the article. This anarthrous
use is found in this verse even though his name is found in the
superscription (1.1), and though he is the subject of John's monologue in
1.7-8, because he only here enters the stage.

Similarly, John himself was first introduced in Mk 1.4 with the anarthrous
construction EGENETO IWANNHS.

A similar practice is found in expository materials with respect to the
first occurence of a noun being anarthrous, and the subsequent occurences of
the topic being articular.

Now, regarding the statistics that initiated this discussion (from Steven
Cox At 8:38 PM -0400 6/16/99),
> >Word total %w/o art.
> >Abraham 72 16.4 83.6
> >Moses 79 16.46 83.54
> >David 58 8.6 91.40
> >Elijah 29 0 100
> >John 34 11.8 88.2
> >Petros 92 56.5 43.5
> >Satanas 37 86.49 13.51

It is suggestive that the incidence of the article varies somewhat
proportionately with the total occurences of the name. I have attached a
spreadsheet that includes a graph of this correspondence. *However, I have
set aside the data on Satanas because it does not fit the rest of the data,
and because there are other potential issues as already raised (influnce of
Hebrew, the singling out of Satan as the *epitome* of all satans, etc.).*

I suggest, however, that the observed correspondence is not immediate, but
mediated by the practice of participant reference as outlined above.
Namely, the more often a name occurs in a narrative, the more likely it is
to arise in a context in which the participant was previously introduced
with an anarthrous name; hence, the new occurence of the name will have the
article. Conversely, infrequent names are likely to occur in isolation as
new participants (or topics) in the narrative, and hence are found without
the article.

There's my hypothesis. I have not pursued these data to see if it holds up
or not.

Thanks everyone for the stimulating discussions!
God Bless!

Joe A. Friberg, M.A. (Linguistics)
Arlington, TX

Attachment converted: Macintosh HD:article w-name in GNT.xls (XLS4/XCEL) (0001B184)

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