[b-greek] Re: Neuter Plurals; Matt. 6:32; 13:4

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Fri Apr 27 2001 - 04:17:35 EDT

At 11:01 PM -0500 4/26/01, James S. Murray wrote:
>I have a question about neuter plural subjects I'm hoping someone can
>clarify for me.
>Is there any significance when a plural noun uses a singular verb versus
>a plural verb? In Matt. 6:26, PETEINA is the subject of a string of
>third person plural verbs; OU SPEIROUSIN OUDE QERIZOUSIN OUDE
>SUNAGOUSIN. However, later in 13:4, we have KAI ELQONTA TA PETEIVA
>KATEPHAGEN AUTA, with the verb in the third person singular. Is this
>strictly a stylistic issue on the author's part, or is he trying to
>convey, with the plural verb, the individual actions of many birds, as
>opposed to viewing the birds as a group? (or is my comparison here not
>fair since the subject in the Matt 6:26 example is implied, and
>therefore the plural ending is more based on sense than formal
>grammatical rules?)

No there isn't really any significance to it; older Greek (classical Attic,
Homeric, etc.) regularly used singular verbs with neuter plural subjects;
in the Koine that standard rule of older Greek grammar is often not

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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