[b-greek] Re: 1st John 1.2 Grammar

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Sun Oct 15 2000 - 08:04:16 EDT

At 9:14 PM -0500 10/14/00, Carlton Winbery wrote:
>Carl Conrad responded to David B Spotts who wrote:
>>>Greetings, all you who are clearly more prepared than I for this
>>>I was helping my eighth graders look at the parsing of 1 John 1 and noted
>>>the phrase THN ZWHN THN AIWNION. I am not familiar with any reason for
>>>the masculine/neuter accusative for AIWNION, used as it is with a
>>>feminine noun and a feminine article. Why not AIWNIHN?
>>This one's relatively easy; AIWNIOS is a two-termination adjective,
>>evidently because it's deemed a compound of AI (i.e. AEI or AIEI) + WN).
>>There is at least one instance in Plato wherein it's deemed a regular
>>3-termination adjective, AIWNIOS/A/ON, but normally the -OS forms do
>>service for both masculine and feminine usage.
>Carl's answer is right on target as usual, but I want to add something to
>it. The adjective AIWNIOS is one of several adjectives that vary between
>being a first and second declension adjective to being just a second
>declension adjective where the masculine/feminine has OS, OU endings. Some
>SKUQRWPOS. There are 322 adjectives in the NT that have forms in the class
>that take only second declension endings. They are all listed in the
>Morphology by Brooks and Winbery.

I would like to add a further note to this--one that may seem to underscore
pedantically what Carlton has already just said: one of the surprises to
one studying comparative grammar or a linguistic approach to the emergence
of historical Greek from Proto-Indo-European is the insight into comparable
features of the declension of nouns, adjectives, and pronouns or the
conjugation of verbs. What I'm thinking of in this instance is the
discovery of some of the rationale or background of gender-distinctions in
the different noun/adjective types: we tend to think of A-stem nouns as
essentially feminine and O-stem nouns as essentially masculine and neuter,
although we're well aware that consonant-stem nouns can't be so simply
characterized. The fact is, however, that there are LOTS of A-stem
masculine nouns (of which the most common are agent-nouns in -THS and
masculine personal names in -AS) and that there are even MORE O-stem
feminine nouns, even if the majority of O-stem nouns are either masculine
or neuter.

One implication of this fact is that there are "oodles" of O-stem
adjectives--322 still by the NT Koine era--that show OS/OU in the
nominative and genitive without distinction of masculine and feminine
gender. One large sub-category of such are the verbal adjectives in
-TOS/-TON and -TEOS/-TEON, anod another of the very common 2-termination
adjectives found in the NT that Carlton didn't mention is ERHMOS,"desert"
or "wilderness"; ERHMOS is really an adjective used normally with the
feminine article from which the implicit feminine noun GH is omitted: hH
ERHMOS [GH]--'uncultivated/wild terrain.'


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
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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