[b-greek] Re: Matthew 28:19,20

From: Iver Larsen (iver_larsen@sil.org)
Date: Tue Mar 05 2002 - 04:09:36 EST

> >The important point in Hebrew thinking which may not have been
> clear in myposting, is that a1) is not sequentially ordered after
> a), it is a detailwithin a). *If more than one detail of the
> process are listed, then the orderin which these details are
> presented follow the order in which they happen,unless clearly
> marked otherwise.*
> >
> >Iver Larsen
> >
> This is a new grammatical rule to me. Does it only apply to participles
> or all constructions which covey means or "process"? Does it matter if
> conjunctions are used in the "list"? Would you please support it with a
> couple clear examples and/or with an acknowledged authority?
> Thanks and blessings,
> John Schwandt

Well, I am linguist, not a Greek scholar. I was not intending this to be a
grammatical rule in the sense of rules as used in some Greek grammar books.
I was thinking more of a general communication and discourse principle. The
normal principle in Western thought pattern, including English and Greek, is
that events are normally told in the order they happened or will happen.
That general expectation can be offset in English with pluperfect tenses and
other means to signal flashbacks or background comments. The interplay of
Greek tenses do similar things. Like the principle that an aorist participle
normally indicates an event prior to the main verb, while the present
participle normally indicates an event simultaneous with or overlapping the
main verb.
A general principle always needs to be balanced by other principles that
also apply. For instance, whether two events follow one another may also be
a matter of lexical content. Some events are very limited in the time they
take to happen, like baptize, while others take a long time, like teach.
Take an English example: He took off his shoes, went to bed and fell asleep.
It is a combination of lexical content, the principle of "first happened,
first told" and knowledge of normal practice that tells you the order of
events. The "and" is not consecutive it itself, it is a coordinating,
additive connector.
If you say: He went to bed, fell asleep and took off his shoes, the order is
odd because it violates normal expectation. There is no grammatical
difference between the two sentences.

A Greek example where the lexical content of the verbs play a different role
than in Matt 28 would be:
I would not make a rule that because eating is listed before drinking, then
the event of eating must be completed before drinking can begin. These are
overlapping events and I expect them to take place simultaneously. They
still give details of what is involved in the present tense imperative.

The tricky thing with Semitic discourse and thought pattern is that one can
have what we would call a flashback without explicitly marking it. It is
expected that a story is told in two or more rounds, a summary first and
then more details.
Modern newspapers are using a style that is more Semitic than traditional
English when they first give a summary of the main point of the story (for
those who don't read the whole article) and then it has a second round of
more details of the story.

Iver Larsen

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