[b-greek] Smart's rule and Hebraic influence (Harris)

From: Dan Parker (stoixein@sdf.lonestar.org)
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 16:34:56 EDT

>> Stephen, do you reject Sharp's rule based upon Proverbs 24:21 in the LXX

> What possible relevance does this have to do with the clear example
> that contradicts Smart's "rule"? I'm still curious how you would
> handle Ps 5:2 LXX. Prov 24:21 LXX is a red herring.

> Stephen Carlson

Stephen, I did not go into more detail on this because I assumed you
had read my response to this which I posted earlier to Kevin Woodruff
regarding his quotation of Murray Harris' use of Ps 5:3. I posted
the following at that time, in part:

        "1) Porter (The poor man's Porter, Rodney Decker) and Winer
        (35-38) do not agree that the grammar of the NT is affected
        by any Hebraic or Aramaic influence.

        2) BDF (81) agrees and considers the LXX and "passages
        translated from a Semitic language" to have Hebraic

        3) Therefore Harris' example of Ps 5:3 is not a good
        parallel to John 20:28, because Winer says that although most
        of the LXX manages to produce good Greek, Psalms generally
        does not and that "The translation of the Psalms is, in
        general, one of the most heedless." (Winer 35-38)"

This apparently was not clear, so I will attempt to elaborate.

Harris said:

        "Finally the repeated MOU, so far from necessarily indicating
        two distinct addressees, simply reflects the repetition of the
        pronominal suffix with copulated nouns in Hebrew and Aramaic (as
        shown in the LXX's Ps 5:3 by HO BASILEUS MOU MAI HO THEOS MOU)"

Harris speaking of the fact that the nouns "King" and "God" in
the Hebrew of Psalm 5:2 both have first person pronominal suffixes.
His stated view is that the reason for the double MOU in both Ps 5:3 and
John 20:28 is that they are both influenced by the same Hebrew syntax.
This is an admission that without the Hebraic influence it would
"necessarily" indicate that two persons are in view. The sole reason
he gives to the contrary is his view that if Thomas spoke Aramaic it
would affect the syntax of John 20:28. This is an admission that such a
"rule" as Smart has proposed does indeed have merit!

Where Harris goes wrong is that he does not support his contention that
this indeed happened at John 20:28. To make it worse all the leading
grammarians disagree with him on the point of whether this phenomena
actually occurs with any frequency in NT Greek.

The reason I used Proverbs 24:21 is because both Smart and Sharp
eliminate "Translation" Greek from their rules for precisely this reason.
If you do not agree that this is a valid exception then you must also
agree that Sharp's rule also has an exception ... and that is Proverbs
24:21. I will not try to force you do admit this if you do not wish.

In the article written by D L. Christiansen "A Reexamination of Granville
Sharp's Rule" he has the following footnote #16:

        "The sole LXX contender for the title of Sharp's dethroner
        (Proverbs 24:21 [FOBOU TON QEON UIE KAI BASILEA]) is not
        admissible, even though it clearly contradicts the rule; the
        omission of the article before the clearly distinct is a comment,
        not on hellenistic Greek syntax, but on the slavish
        method of translation employed by certain of the LXX scribes.
        cf. Wallace, Selected Notes, 104-5; also Thomas Fanshaw Middleton,
        The Doctrine of the Greek Article, new ed., (London: J.G .F.
        & J. Rivington, et al, 1841): 120."

Smart's rule clearly states right up front that only "Native" Greek is
covered by the rule. Therefore, Psalms in the LXX cannot be used as
a exception to Smart's rule. This exception is not arbitrary, but based
on a documented characteristic of some Hebrew that is translated into

I would also like to comment on some of the criticisms of the rule with
respect to the number of exceptions. The exceptions are actually far
fewer than Sharps because:

               1) Sharps excludes plural nouns, Smarts does not.
        2) Sharps excludes quasi proper names, Smarts does not.
        3) Smarts works with both articular nouns and anarthrous nouns.

Dan Parker

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