Date: Thu Sep 09 1999 - 14:27:50 EDT

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To: "Carl W. Conrad" <>
From: "Carlton L. Winbery" <>
Subject: Re: Do prepositions govern or merely clarify case functions in
 Koine Greek?


>>Dear B-Greekers,
>>Can someone please clarify for me the issue of rather or not prepositions
>>govern or merely clarify case functions in Koine Greek? Dana & Mantey,
>>plus Porter seem to support the idea "that a preposition is governed by its
>>case, in some way helping the case to manifest its meaning and to perform
>>more precisely its various functions." (Porter 140) On the other hand,
>>Wallace, after quoting Dana & Mantey saying in part, "It is incorrect... to
>>say that prepositions govern cases...", This statement is generally
>>accurate for classical Greek, but not Koine. Some cases uses in the
>>classical period were quite subtle. As the language progressed in the
>>Koine period, such subtleties were replaced with more explicit
>>statements.... the prepositional phrase does not always communicate more
>>explicitly what a naked case could communicate; sometimes it communicates
>>something other than what a simple case would normally communicate. In
>>this respect it is legitimate to speak of prepositions as governing nouns."
>>(Page 360). I would like add what Wallace does not quote from Dana &
>>Mantey, "Neither is the opposite true, that cases govern prepositions."
>>(Page 97, section 101).
>>In my limited brain, I am unable to see the difference of EN + the dative
>>or the naked dative which expresses sphere. If prepositions govern cases,
>>what is the effect specifically in the function of sphere? How is
>>"something other than what a simple case would normally communicate" seen
>>and just exactly what is this added information communicating? Please
>>help this confused Little Greek.
>My guess is that the question you're raising here, Jay, is one that it may
>be difficult for grammarians to reach any simple consensus about, and I
>think personally that datives are more complicated than the other cases
>precisely because originally distinct uses (traditionally "true dative,"
>"instrumental-sociative," and "locative") have come to be associated with a
>single set of case-endings. The fact that EN can be used both with a
>locative dative to indicate stationary position as well as with an
>instrumental dative to express means is a fact that one must simply become
>accustomed to--and unfortunatley, there are instances enough where the
>usage is not nearly so clear-cut.
>That's not much help, I fear, but I think I'd rather limit broad
>generalizations about prepositions and case usage to a very small number
>and talk more about instances one-by-one. I am particularly disturbed by
>grammarians' tendency to multiply categories of case-usage in terms of as
>many nuanced differences as they think they can discern. That's my 2c. And
>I'm afraid there are going to be quite a few very different views on this
I prefer to say that the preposition assist substantives in expressing
their case relationships. One thing that led me to that position (r/t
saying they "govern" cases) is that there are a number of cases used either
with or without the preposition to mean the same thing. eg. Acts 12:2
ANEILEN IAKWBON . . . MACAIRHi. "He killed James with a sword." and Rev.
6:8 . . . APOKTEINAI EN hROMFAIAi . . . "to kill with a sword." So I'd
rather say that the prep. helps define the case function but does not
"govern" it. Another eg. would be the genitive that shows time within which
with or without the preposition EPI Lk. 18:12 and Acts 11:28.

Carlton L. Winbery
Fogleman Prof. of Religion
Louisiana College Box 612
Pineville, LA 71359
Phones 318 487 7241, Home 318 448 6103

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