From: Iver Larsen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Feb 19 2001 - 01:57:10 EST
> Dear Iver,
> let me take this opportunity to ask you a question on your view of
> word order in Greek. The following statements reveal what your position
> > The text says:
> > DIDASKEIN DE GUNAIKA OUK EPITREPW OUDE AUQENTEIN ANDROS, ALL' EINAI
> EN hHSUCIA
> > The focus is first on teaching, secondarily on women doing it and thirdly on
> > this not being allowed. This is then complemented by AUQENTEIN
> which probably
> > does not refer to a proper execution of rightful authority, but rather to an
> > imposing of oneself as an authority in a situation where one has
> not been given
> > such authority.
> But I happened to read the following book review. Here the author of the
> seems to claim that the classical Greek word order is as follows:
> [T][F] V X.
> Here T= topic, F=focus, V=verb, X=everything else.
> T and F are optional. Topic=the things about which the sentence
> talks about. Focus=the new information that the sentence tries to
> introduce or confirm.
> It means that the sentence-initial may not be the focus of the
> sentence but the topic, typically the old information. But your scheme
> seems to say a different thing.
> Can you clarify your position?
I really ought to read the whole book in order to evaluate the claim properly.
However, based on this description and the review, I admit that this claim is
different from my understanding of word order in Greek. Generally speaking, I
believe the sentence-initial position carries the focus F. That position can
focus or re-focus on an underlying topic being discussed, but that is different
from saying that T is initial. I find it hard to limit "topic" to one
constituent in the sentence. It is a word that is difficult to define and
delimit. What does Paul talk about in 1 Tim 2:12? About teaching? About women?
About Women teaching? About Paul not allowing women to teach?
When I try to apply this theory to 1 Tim 2:12 I see "not allowing" as the broad,
general, underlying topic (BT - overall thing being spoken about in these
chapters - directions by Paul), "women" as the particular, narrower topic (NT -
thing being spoken about in these particular verses), and "teach" as the focus
(new information in this sentence), giving F NT BT.
I cannot adequately explain my position in a brief e-mail, but the basic
principle is that "if X comes before Y, and if X could have followed Y, then X
is relatively more prominent than Y." What prominence means needs to be seen and
explained in context. Said in different ways: "New information before old."
"Unexpected information before expected." "Unpredictable information before
predictable." In this scheme, I am not saying that the verb comes first or last,
just because it is a verb. Rather, if the verb refers to predictable information
(like the copula) it is positioned towards the end. (Completely predictable
information is pushed off the edge towards the far end, so that it does not even
appear in the text.) If the verb refers to important, new information it comes
first. The basic principle does not only apply to phrase order within the
clause, but also to constituent order within the phrase.
1 Tim 2:12 is set in a broad context where Paul is "urging" in v. 1 and he
"wants" something in v. 8. It is to be expected that he is still giving
directions in v. 12 (I do not allow). This is the least prominent and most
expected of the three elements. From verse 9 to 15, he talks about the position
of women, so it is to be expected that he also talks about women in v. 12. Women
is a sub-topic under the broad, general topic of giving instructions. It is
predictable, but not quite as predictable as giving directions, because he did
talk about men a few verses up. Therefore, GUNAIKI precedes OUK EPITREPW. The
new thing in v. 12 is "teaching". It continues the thought from v. 11, but the
word "teach" introduces a new aspect. It also contrasts with other things that
women may do. It is _teaching_ that Paul does not allow them to do. (Later
supplemented and clarified by AUQENTEIN and contrasted to EINAI EN hHSUCIAi.)
Moon, let me send you my revised article on word order to you directly.
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