Re: what to do with three adverbs?

From: Mike Sangrey (
Date: Thu Jan 27 2000 - 14:34:35 EST

Daniel L Christiansen said:
> Gordon Goltz wrote:
> I am currently studying Mark 1:29-39, and at the start of v. 35
> there are three adverbs in a row after the initial KAI--PRWI ENNUCA
> LIAN. How do you handle (and explain) this? I seems like St. Mark is
> allowing Peter to dictate from the Semitic side of his brain.

> I would go with "in the early morning, very dark." In other words,
> "In the darkness just before dawn."

> Having said that-- and leaving aside the question of Peter's dictation
> :) -- this is an intriguing phenomenon.

[Here Daniel annotates a list of adverb chain occurrences in GNT and LXX.]

> Perhaps Carl et al may be able to shed light on the frequency of such
> constructions in Classical Greek. I will be surprised, however, to
> hear that this construction (apart from negatives) is often used.
> Regardless of the specific language in question, it seems to me that
> piling adverbials on adverbials taxes the hearer's logical faculties
> **exceedingly far too much** to be used in any "normal" conversation
> or narrative situation. Of course, I could be wrong :)

This does bring up an intriguing question. There is more to the semantics
of a text than the mathematical appending of words in grammatical
relationships. There is a deeper, undergirding and intertwining meaning
brought about by an author's choice of words and choice of possible
grammatical constructions of those words into clauses, sentences, et al.

I think this relates to the bilingual discussion. IMO--and though
I know I'm not alone, I think there are contrary opinions--doing
language acquisition well will form new neuron pathways; that is, it
makes physical changes. I think this is the case in a bilingual person;
they will naturally move between the two languages. Since that is the
way their brain is wired. It's natural because it is.

Also, this underscores the fact that acquiring a second language takes
exercise. That is, one has to physically build the connections. I relate
this since this way of viewing the problem helps me to understand why I
must try to build those connections and gives me a hint at what I must do.
It has to be similar to how I acquired my first language. That's just
the way God made it to work, I might as well submit to it. Again,
that's my opinion, but it is one that seems to be working well for me.

Also, and I don't know this, I suspect that memorization is like storing
data; but what I want to do is to build the structures in my head that
*process* the text and thereby derive the meaning. In other words,
meaning is not a *lookup* process as one would lookup something in a
file cabinet. "Lookup" is part of the process, but "lookup" does not
produce a straight shot to the meaning.

I realize my statements are more apropos to a linguistics discussion
and less to a Biblical Greek discussion; however, my motivation is to
encourage others like myself (early on in learning Greek) to push towards
a more adept facility of the Greek language. For what it's worth.

Now, back to adverb chains. This unusual construction, I think, has a
fuller meaning than what can simply be derived by *seeing* adverb,
adverb, adverb. The physical connections in one's head would be
surprised by the stream of words.

So, since a chain of adverbs "surprises" the ear--in fact, (within my limited
knowledge) likely surprises in any language--can we say the meaning of
this text not only includes "in the very early morning, before dark", but
also is meant to highlight the unusual behavior of Jesus at this point?

If it does, than I would lean toward a translation like:
   "In the very early morning, even while still dark, ..."

Perhaps Mark is highlighting the very extremely quickly growing notoriety
of Jesus. That is, in order to be alone, Jesus had to go to this
extreme. There are other hints of this in the nearby context.

Mike Sangrey
Landisburg, Pa.
       There is no 'do' in faith, everywhere present within it is 'done'.

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