[b-greek] Re: On Smart's rule, exceptions and methodology

From: Dan Parker (stoixein@sdf.lonestar.org)
Date: Tue Feb 06 2001 - 11:40:17 EST

> Dan Parker wrote:
> > I can easily apply Sharps words in defence of his rule to the defense
> > of Smart's Rule. [If Sharp can capitalize "Rule" so can I!] Of a detractor
> > he said
> >
> > "he has not been able to produce against the Rules one single
> > example from the Greek text of the New Testament, (the only
> > true criterion of their truth)"
> You have several times referred to Smart's rule as having no exceptions.
> In the last round of discussions two specific exceptions were given
> (John 20:28 and Mark 3:33-34, Matt 12:49, the last two counted here as
> one), and you did not give any satisfactory explanation to either one.

I remember that I stopped posting on Sharp's at a particular point in
the last round because no new points were being raised. If I had seen
these or felt they were serious exceptions to Sharp's I would have
commented on them. Is there more to the argument than the assertion that
these examples are exceptions to the Rule?

Are you really proposing that the grammar of Mark 3 and Matt 12 proves
that Jesus intended to refer to an individual man as either his Mother
or sister? Can you provide an unambiguous example to show that this
is likely?

It seems more reasonable that Jesus was saying that an older women among
his disciples was like his Mother, younger women were his sisters and
the men were his brothers ... not that he was calling a man his sister
or his Mother.

Your exception places a greater burden on the Rule than is reasonable,
and it appears that you are setting a higher standard for it than is
set for other similar rules.

For example, there is no one on this forum who holds to Sharp's rule
who would ever consider such a fanciful example as an exception.

The most you have done with this example is shed some doubt on the
Rule, not disproved it.

If you can show were Jesus called a man his Mother or his sister,
then you've got something. Do you?

> Why should we look for more exceptions? Without dealing with the cotext
> (of the NP; cotext means textual context) it may be possible to deny
> some counter examples (such as John 20:28) by referring to the rule, but
> this is only circular reasoning if the cotext is strongly against the
> interpretation as here. Any proposed rule that restricts the semantics
> of the expression needs to pass the test that the proposed semantics
> fit the context. In the gospels example you do not even need to go to
> any more remote cotext for the NP than just the sentence itself to see
> that the rule is does not work there. If you seriously want to get this
> rule generally accepted, I think, you need to answer the criticism the
> rule has already gotten. Otherwise it is no wonder that some people on
> the list really feel the rule has been demolished.

I don't recall you expressing your view on Sharp's rule. If Smart's
Rule were to exclude plurals like Sharp's revised rule does, then
there would be definite exceptions to Sharp's. However even with the
inclusion of plurals with all of their associated degrees of freedom
in interpretation the best that can be mustered up against Smart's
is a highly questionable example which apparently interprets Jesus'
words as calling some men his Mother and sisters.

In comparison to Sharp's rule, Smart's is once again superior, even
with plurals.

Do you hold to Sharp's rule?

> Also, you need to address some methodological problems. These include 1)
> too small a database (I think you need to take into account that many
> examples come from a similar context, that is the opening of a letter,
> which does not do much to give statistical credibility of its use in
> different contexts) - you could append this by doing an exhaustive study
> of a sizable KOINH corpus 2) lack of statistical comparison with other,
> non-Smart NP's joined with KAI. 3) lack of plausible explanations for
> the reason this proposed significant anomaly in the Greek nominal
> syntax, in other words why the semantics of co-ordination of two NP's
> with KAI would be semantically so strongly related to the inner-NP
> presence or absence of a personal possessive pronoun, and 4) the
> relatively high number of exceptions in the corpus examined so far (even
> two is quite significant, because you have so few examples of the
> construction, especially if you want to make an absolute claim). Also,
> the NT, unfortunately for the linguist, is not a corpus designed by the
> use of corpus linguistic criteria, which should caution us for
> generalizing too much to the language of the time.
> Kimmo Huovila

I have not seen any of that for Sharp's rule. Perhaps I just don't
know where to look. I am aware that there are exceptions in the
profane Greek and Patristics to Sharp's rule. I think that expanding
the corpus for Smart's Rule is a fine idea. Maybe some day someone will
do it.

Until that is done, there are no _reasonable_ and unambiguous exceptions
to Smart's Rule :-)

Kind Regards,
Dan Parker

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