Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 22nd, 2020, 3:50 am

Next up is Frank Eakin, "The Greek Article in First and Second Century Papyri," American Journal of Philology 37 (1916): 333-340. Its goal is to see what the papyri contribute to our understanding of the article in the New Testament.
Eakin 1916:333-4 wrote: A phenomenon that at once claims attention is the very frequent occurrence of "Anarthrous Prepositional Phrases". The following--all more or less frequently met with in these papyri--will serve as examples (one reference is each):

κατὰ καιρόν 34. II. 4, περὶ κώμην Κορῶβιν 45. 9, ἀπὸ κώμης Ψώβθεως 239.4, ἀπ' Ὀξυρύγχων πόλεως 38. 2, ἐν ἀγυιᾷ 73. 22, ἐπ' ἀμφόδου πλατείας 51. 15, εἰς δημοσίαν ῥύμην 69. 2, ἀπὸ λιβὸς ῥύμης 99. 7, ἐν οἰκίᾳ Ἐπαγαθοῦ 51. 13, εἰς υἱόν 37. I. 9, ἀπὸ κοπρίας 37. I. 7, ἐν χερσί 63. 7, κατὰ μητέρα 68. 8, μετὰ κυρίου 45. 6, μετὰ τελευτὴν αὐτοῦ 68. 14, εἰς κλείνην . . . ἀπὸ ὥρας θ 523.

Some of these phrases quoted from the papyri maz be duplicated, others closely paralleled, in the N. T. κατὰ καιρόν of course is frequent. The papyri give us ἐν οἰκίᾳ Ἐπαγαθοῦ, and in Matt. 26: 6 we find ἐν οἰκίᾳ Σίμωνος, which looks much the same. A resident of Oxyrhynchus invites a friend to dinner ἀπὸ ὥρας θ (at 9 o'clock), and the phrase ἀπὸ ἕκτης ὥρας in Matt. 27: 45 presents a very similar linguistic phenomenon. The very frequent ἀπ' Ὀξυρύγχων πόλεως of the papyri is paralleled by the N. T. ἐκ πόλεως Ναζαρέθ (Luke 2: 4). In P. Oxy. 63. 7 (see above) we found ἐν χερσί, and the N. T. furnishes many examples of the anarthrous use of this noun with various prepositions. (See e. g. Matt. 17: 22; 26: 45; Luke 1: 71, 74; 4: 11; Acts 2: 23; 7: 35; Gal. 3: 19.) With εἰς υἱόν (quoted above from papyri) cf. the same phrase in Acts 7: 21 and Heb. 1: 5. With ἀπὸ κοπρίας cf. εἰς κοπρίαν in Luke 14: 35--the only occurrence of this word in the N. T.

But even apart from this identity or similarity of phrases the mere fact that a strong tendency is observed in the papyri--as in the N. T.--to omit the article with nouns used in prepositional phrases is not without significance. It would appear that the great frequency of these short-cut phrases in the N. T. is simply another illustration of the close affinity between the Sacred Books and the common speech of the time. This being the case we should not be hasty in classing as "Hebraic" certain expressions which may well belong to this general class. It may be true that the use of such phrases as ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ὀργῆς and πρὸ προώπον Κυρίου is due to Hebrew influence, as Blass insists, but if so we need not suppose that even such a thoroughly Greek writer as Luke would greatly offend his linguistic "sense of fitness" when he adopted them. They are close parallels to many expressions which Greek-speaking people of the time used every day.

It is possible that in several passages the Revisers might have given us a slightly different translation if it had been possible for them to study the use of prepositional phrases in the papyri. For instance one who has made some such observations cannot well doubt that εἰς πόλιν in Mark 1: 45 means "into the city", as given in the margin, instead of "into a city",--as it stands in the text. In Luke 8: 27 we are told of the Gerasene demoniac that " for a long time he had worn clothes, and abode not ἐν οἰκίᾳ, but in the tombs ". The meaning is certainly " in the house ", i. e. "at home ", rather "in any house", as R. V. has it. In Heb. 1: 2 the marginal "a son" as an alternative to "his son" might probably be dispensed with. Westcott's rendering of ἐν συναγωγῇ (John 6: 59; 18: 20) "in time of solemn assembly" is a good illustration of this sort of error. The use of this phrase seems to have been very similar to that of our corresponding expression "in church".
Eakin writes from a time in which there was some anxiety in accounting for non-classical usages, for which some scholars were prone to attribute to Hebraicisms. Eakin's answer, like Deissmann's, is to call attention to contemporary usage attested in the papyri. For anarthrous objects of prepositions, the main thrust of Eakin's argument is that certain indefinite interpretations of the absence of the article are unwarranted, but the argument as a whole seems to confound rather unsatisfactorially definite and qualitative readings of the anarthrous object (esp. in the translations with bare objects like "at home" and "in church"--one might also add "in town" for "in the/a city").
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » July 22nd, 2020, 6:02 am

I have to strongly disagree with Eakin in one detail:
In Luke 8: 27 we are told of the Gerasene demoniac that " for a long time he had worn clothes, and abode not ἐν οἰκίᾳ, but in the tombs ". The meaning is certainly " in the house ", i. e. "at home ", rather "in any house", as R. V. has it.
Why "certainly"? How do we know that he had a home house, and why would that matter?

Do we again have a case where English understanding dictates how we understand Greek? As a Finnish speaker (who doesn't use articles natively) I don't have any difficulty to understand ἐν οἰκίᾳ here as not having any specific definiteness or identifiability or particularity. The point isn't to tell that he didn't live in some particular house but that he didn't live in a house at all. It's more difficult in English because (probably) we are forced to make a decision: is it "the house", "a house" or "any house". The last option sounds like emphasizing a point which isn't relevant, but so does "the house".

Which brings me to a point which was made in this thread IIRC, namely that maybe we can say that definitiveness doesn't matter here for the sake of the discourse, even if it would be definite.
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S Walch
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by S Walch » July 22nd, 2020, 7:01 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 22nd, 2020, 6:02 am
I have to strongly disagree with Eakin in one detail:
In Luke 8: 27 we are told of the Gerasene demoniac that " for a long time he had worn clothes, and abode not ἐν οἰκίᾳ, but in the tombs ". The meaning is certainly " in the house ", i. e. "at home ", rather "in any house", as R. V. has it.
Why "certainly"? How do we know that he had a home house, and why would that matter?
This may be answered by what is said later on in the discourse:

Luke 8:39
Ὑπόστρεφε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου, καὶ διηγοῦ ὅσα σοι ἐποίησεν ὁ θεός. καὶ ἀπῆλθεν καθʼ ὅλην τὴν πόλιν κηρύσσων ὅσα ἐποίησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς.

Nevertheless even as an English speaker, I still agree with you I don't think one could say "definitely" with regards to Luke 8:27 as indicating "at home."
Which brings me to a point which was made in this thread IIRC, namely that maybe we can say that definitiveness doesn't matter here for the sake of the discourse, even if it would be definite.
Agreed.

A similar sort of thing can be borne out in Mark 5:21.

The traditional text is:

Καὶ διαπεράσαντος τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ πάλιν εἰς τὸ πέραν συνήχθη ὄχλος πολὺς ἐπʼ αὐτόν, καὶ ἦν παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν

But some witnesses (Vaticanus, minuscules 102 & 447) omit the definite article τῷ; thus in these witnesses were the copyists/examplar not too worried about the "definiteness" of the boat (which with the def. article would be understood as anaphoric to Mark 4:36, which is again anaphoric to Mark 4:1), and were just understanding it as "a boat"? Whether it's the same specific boat as in Mark 4:36 certainly doesn't matter here for the sake of the discourse; the point is Jesus crossed to the other side of the river (hence why numerous witnesses omit ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ entirely). "the" or "a" boat in these places is inconsequential to the story at hand.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 23rd, 2020, 3:44 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 22nd, 2020, 6:02 am
I have to strongly disagree with Eakin in one detail:
In Luke 8: 27 we are told of the Gerasene demoniac that " for a long time he had worn clothes, and abode not ἐν οἰκίᾳ, but in the tombs ". The meaning is certainly " in the house ", i. e. "at home ", rather "in any house", as R. V. has it.
Why "certainly"? How do we know that he had a home house, and why would that matter?
Do we again have a case where English understanding dictates how we understand Greek? As a Finnish speaker (who doesn't use articles natively) I don't have any difficulty to understand ἐν οἰκίᾳ here as not having any specific definiteness or identifiability or particularity. The point isn't to tell that he didn't live in some particular house but that he didn't live in a house at all. It's more difficult in English because (probably) we are forced to make a decision: is it "the house", "a house" or "any house". The last option sounds like emphasizing a point which isn't relevant, but so does "the house".
My problem with Eakin is that "in the house" and "at home" aren't really equivalent, so his "i.e." is confusing if not misleading.

As for your Finnish intuitions, there is a Finnish linguist by the name of Lauri Carlson (no relation) who in a 1988 article, "Questions of identity in discourse," thinks that articled languages and non-articled languages have different criteria for definiteness. In specific, he argues that articled languages based definiteness on identifiability via descriptive identity criteria, while non-articled languages based definiteness on identifiability via acquaintance identity criteria. Anaphoric articles (in the sense of "the mentioned X") would be an example of the latter. My point is that one can advance the hypothesis that, although Greek is an articled language and generally marks definiteness based on descriptive identity, there are certain contexts where the kind of definiteness marked by the article is based on acquaintaince identity criteria and that these contexts include being governed by a proper preposition. In other words, objects of proper propositions in Greek may well correspond to your Finnish intuitions about definiteness better than, say, English speakers' intuition about articles.
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
July 22nd, 2020, 6:02 am
Which brings me to a point which was made in this thread IIRC, namely that maybe we can say that definitiveness doesn't matter here for the sake of the discourse, even if it would be definite.
Yes, in Carlson's analysis, definiteness is very much about answering an identity question implied in the discourse.
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 26th, 2020, 10:20 pm

Today we have Gildersleeve, Syntax of Classical Greek from Homer to Demosthenes, whose section on the doctrine of the article was "elaborated by Professor Miller." Here's the excerpt:
Gildersleeve.png
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Turner lists Gildersleeve as a source for his section on this issue, and as we now can see the information he presents is already in Gildersleeve.

Gildersleeve obtains his observational adequacy by listing a large number of examples (not all in the excerpt here), but his descriptive adequacy is largely diachronic ("as in the earlier language"). Also, he talks about the idea that "anaphora or contrast may bring back the article," whereas it might be better viewed as anaphora or contrast (whatever he means by that: it's not clear) licensing the article for objects of proper prepositions.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 27th, 2020, 10:23 am

This is a really great thread ...
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Daniel Semler » July 27th, 2020, 11:28 am

I too have been very interested this thread. I haven't had much time to look up any of the references, but now that Greek class has let out I hope to have more time.

Thx
D
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Alan Bunning » July 28th, 2020, 11:36 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
July 27th, 2020, 10:23 am
This is a really great thread ...
I have been following it too. I am hoping that at the end Stephen will explain his conclusions on the matter. Or perhaps he is going to write a paper on it?
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 29th, 2020, 11:04 pm

Alan Bunning wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 11:36 am
Jonathan Robie wrote:
July 27th, 2020, 10:23 am
This is a really great thread ...
I have been following it too. I am hoping that at the end Stephen will explain his conclusions on the matter. Or perhaps he is going to write a paper on it?
I don't have any solid conclusions yet, but a number of themes are developing from this journey through the secondary literature:
  1. Some of the prepositional objects that (English) grammarians call "definite" may not be definite at all but "qualitative" (I'm not happy with that term, however), so that the prepositional phrase almost becomes equivalent to an adverb. We've seen this in some of von Siebenthal's and Wallace's examples of definite objects.
  2. Due to the way that grammatical changes occur diachronically, there may well be different rules for different syntactic contexts. In particular, definite articles seem to be introduced for objects and subjects of verbs and spread from there. So, it may be the case that only certain kinds of definiteness are marked in objects of proper prepositions, while outside this context, in arguments of verbs for example, a wider range of definiteness may be are marked.
  3. As the use of the article does not affect the definiteness or identifiability of proper and other monadic nouns, the article might be repurposed for a different, but related use. This gets to Levinsohn's proposal that such nouns in focus are (often) anarthrous.
All of these would need further refinement of course.
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Re: Greek Grammars on the Articulation of Prepositional Objects

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » August 2nd, 2020, 7:51 am

Here's some clarification for my earlier thought:
The referent is certainly the same -- all the dead people. But think about it this way: we have verbs and they have aspect. We can refer to same events using different aspects. One has all the event in the view. The other views it without referring to the endpoint.
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