[b-greek] Re: Acts 2:38b and THN DOREAN hAGIOU PNEUMATOS

From: Kevin Cauley (cauley@airmail.net)
Date: Mon Mar 04 2002 - 02:17:02 EST

I agree that language is flexible and that the author has his choice of how
to express himself. It was not my intention to put words in the mouth of
the author here, merely to call attention to an alternative way that the
sentiment might have been expressed and then to pose the question, why did
he express it in this specific way? There may not have been any difference
in the mind of the author; but there MAY HAVE BEEN and if it is POSSIBLE
that there may have been, it is possible that the author expressed this in a
GRAMMATICAL way. Calling attention to the possible ways that an author can
say things helps the reader to ask the question, why did he say it like
*that* specifically.

To illustrate, if I had a set of tools in front of me: a hammer, some
pliers, and a screwdriver; and someone saw me take the screwdriver and walk
into the other room, he might say, "Well, he didn't use the hammer, so I
guess that he didn't need to drive a nail." Your point is true that he
might have used the screwdriver to drive a nail (by using the handle of the
screwdriver, something which my wife finds amusing that I do from time to
time), but most likely, if he had the three tools in front of him and could
select among them, he would have chosen the hammer because he needed to use
a hammer.

Language is kind of like that and obviously this is a limited illustration,
but writers have certain grammatical tools that are at their disposal.
While it is certainly the case that they may use multiple ways to express
the same thing (more so in poetry than prose), they will PROBABLY, when
writing prose, use the best tool for the job. By looking at the alternative
"tools" we can theorize that perhaps they didn't need to do that job and the
majority of the time be correct in doing so, but, as you say, there are
always exceptions.
Kevin Cauley

>I must also say that I think it is exceedingly harmful to grammatical,
>lexical, and semantic understanding to say things like, "If he had meant to
>say such and such, he would have said so and so." There are more ways than
>one to express a thought, and we should focus on the meaning of what is
>actually there, without importing what we think someone would have said if
>that person had wanted to express a certain idea. For example, I have seen
>purpose or result expressed in the same sentence two different ways.
>Language is flexible like that.

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