Re: prepositions

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Aug 05 1999 - 07:34:28 EDT

At 3:24 AM +0000 8/5/99, jacob cohen wrote:
>As I am examine how a preposition is being used in a sentance what
>should I be asking myself about how to find out if the preposition is
>modifing the verb or a noun. For example Wallace points out that most
>preps. that take a dative or accusative function adverbally, this is
>also the case with genitives with EK and APO. But as I work through
>the workbook Basics of Biblical Greek by Mounce I realize my grasp of
>this concept is weak. Prepositions are found in chapter eight.
>Anyone care to comment on some of these; Jn.1:10 EN TWi KOSMWi HN
>He was in the world. What am I missing here ? I can see it both ways;
>that "he" is being modified; he was in this location. And I could see
>it the other way. That is "was" is being modified by EN.

First, something about expression here: we don't say that a preposition
modifies a verb; rather, we say that a prepositional PHRASE may function
like an adverb or modify a verb. For example, verbs of motion tend commonly
to be used with prepositional phrases answering the questions "whence?" and
"whither>": in the accounts of Jesus' baptism we find ANABAINWN EK TOU
hUDATOS where "out of the water" clearly completes adverbially the sense of
the participle ANABAINWN. So likewise, I find by random selection John 1:43
completes adverbially the sense of the infinitive EXELQEIN.

As for John 1:10 EN TWi KOSMWi HN, we'd probably say that HN here is
existential rather than copulative: "he existed"; EN TWi KOSMWi answers the
question "where?" and thus is an adverbial modifier of HN. But note: it is
the prepositional phrase that should be seen as modifying a verb, not the
preposition itself; a preposition normally does govern a noun or pronoun
within a prepositional phrase.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

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