Verbless clauses

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics
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Matthew Longhorn
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Verbless clauses

Post by Matthew Longhorn » June 23rd, 2019, 12:59 pm

I am reading through Luke again at the moment and in Luke 4:18 it reads
πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπʼ ἐμὲ
οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με
εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς,
ἀπέσταλκέν με,⸆
κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν
καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν,
ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει,

I have highlighted the first clause which I would classify structurally as a verbless clause, but am wondering why they would be used by authors.
In some instances it seems to make the information more startling - a compact and seemingly terse way of expressing a truth (I will try to find examples later). Here I am wondering whether it may be functioning to keep a focus on the verbal clauses that follow? This seems to be the case in other passages such as Philippians 2:1-2 (Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, εἴ ⸀τι παραμύθιον ἀγάπης, εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ ⸁τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί, πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε)

Simply saying that there is an elided verb seems to just state the structure and not the motivation for it, and also assumes that it would be impossible for a clause to be genuinely verbless. I don’t know whether the latter applies to Koine or not.
I was wondering if anyone knows of any good studies on this? I often stumble across stuff on Hebrew verbless clauses but not much on Koine. Even if I could understand the Hebrew papers (which I can’t), I wouldn’t want to generalise to Greek.
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MAubrey
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Re: Verbless clauses

Post by MAubrey » June 23rd, 2019, 2:24 pm

I'm not aware of any detailed work on non-verbal predicate in Ancient Greek, unfortunately.

Just an dissertation from the 70's:

Toward a Descriptive Analysis of 'Einai as a Linking Verb in New Testament Greek by Lane McGaughy
https://amzn.to/2XrZe4x

But there is a substantial amount of general linguistic research on the topic.

Non-Verbal Predication: Copular sentences at the syntax-semantics interface by Isabelle Roy
https://amzn.to/2YgIpXm
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Mike Aubrey, Linguist
Koine-Greek.com

Matthew Longhorn
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Re: Verbless clauses

Post by Matthew Longhorn » June 23rd, 2019, 2:34 pm

Thanks as always Mike. I will add them onto my wishlist and hope to get to them sometime next month
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Bruce McKinnon
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Re: Verbless clauses

Post by Bruce McKinnon » June 23rd, 2019, 7:54 pm

I can't point to any studies of verbs being omitted from clauses in Koine Greek. However, I thought it would be worth checking both the LXX and the Hebrew text for Isaiah 61:1, which form the basis for Luke 4:18.

At one level, the explanation for the omission of a verb in the first clause of Luke 4:18 is simply that Luke was copying the text in the LXX, πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπ᾽ ἐμέ , which for this clause tracks closely the Hebrew for Isaiah 61:1, ‎רוּחַ אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה עָלָי .

But that of course leaves the larger issue of stylistic and linguistic considerations in NT passages that are not simply copying text from the LXX or Hebrew Bible.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Verbless clauses

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 23rd, 2019, 8:20 pm

First of all, terminology: elision is the omission of sounds from a word. Ellipsis is the omission of words due to understanding them from context. You can elide a sound; you can't ellipse a word, however, the verb of choice is "omit."

Remember, never a verbless clause in English! :) Having said that however, ellipsis is a regular feature of both Greek and English, though they don't always omit the same words in the same contexts, and that makes Greek more fun. The grammars talk about it, e.g.
Smyth wrote:944. Ellipsis of the Copula.—The copulative verb εἶναι is often omitted, especially the forms ἐστί and εἰσί. This occurs chiefly...
Smyth, H. W. (1920). A Greek Grammar for Colleges (p. 261). New York; Cincinnati; Chicago; Boston; Atlanta: American Book Company.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Matthew Longhorn
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Re: Verbless clauses

Post by Matthew Longhorn » June 24th, 2019, 6:06 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
June 23rd, 2019, 8:20 pm
First of all, terminology: elision is the omission of sounds from a word. Ellipsis is the omission of words due to understanding them from context. You can elide a sound; you can't ellipse a word, however, the verb of choice is "omit."
Well I certainly am on a role with the incorrect terminology recently - I had elipsis in mind and got the verb wrong. "Omit" it shall be!

I need to start digging back into the likes of Robertson and Smyth rather than relying on Wallace. Learning point for the future
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Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Verbless clauses

Post by Shirley Rollinson » June 24th, 2019, 5:53 pm

Matthew Longhorn wrote:
June 23rd, 2019, 12:59 pm
I am reading through Luke again at the moment and in Luke 4:18 it reads
πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπʼ ἐμὲ
οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με
εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς,
ἀπέσταλκέν με,⸆
κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν
καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν,
ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει,

I have highlighted the first clause which I would classify structurally as a verbless clause, but am wondering why they would be used by authors.
In some instances it seems to make the information more startling - a compact and seemingly terse way of expressing a truth (I will try to find examples later). - - - snip snip - - - -
Think 'Newspaper Headlines' : "Spirit of God on Jesus !"
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Peng Huiguo
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Re: Verbless clauses

Post by Peng Huiguo » June 24th, 2019, 9:02 pm

What is οὗ εἵνεκεν pointing to?

There's an almost pictorial effect to this passage, like

The cup poised over me (ready)
And it poured (action)
To... (cascade)
To...
To...
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Verbless clauses

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 24th, 2019, 10:27 pm

Peng Huiguo wrote:
June 24th, 2019, 9:02 pm
What is οὗ εἵνεκεν pointing to?

There's an almost pictorial effect to this passage, like

The cup poised over me (ready)
And it poured (action)
To... (cascade)
To...
To...
A quotation from Isaiah 61:1-2, so it mimics to a certain extent the structure of the Hebrew. οὗ εἵνεκεν translates here the Hebrew יַ֫עַן, ya(an, "because" and points to nothing, "because of which, for which reason..."
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Verbless clauses

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 25th, 2019, 9:28 pm

Matthew Longhorn wrote:
June 23rd, 2019, 12:59 pm
I am reading through Luke again at the moment and in Luke 4:18 it reads
πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπʼ ἐμὲ
οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με
εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς,
ἀπέσταλκέν με,⸆
κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν
καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν,
ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει,

I have highlighted the first clause which I would classify structurally as a verbless clause, but am wondering why they would be used by authors.
It's extremely common - for clauses with predicates, about 1/3 are verbless in the New Testament (about 598 verbless / 1337 with verbs). You don't need an explicit verb to identify the subject and predicate, and it isn't at all awkward if it isn't present. In English, verbless clauses are used primarily in Tarzan movies - "Me Tarzan, you Jane". But they are quite normal and natural Greek.

I suspect some of it is economy of expression and forcefulness. Many of these examples feel timeless, proverbial - perhaps that is the effect in many cases.

Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι
ὁ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολὺς ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς
ἀρκετὸν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἡ κακία αὐτῆς
πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν
Ὁ μὲν θερισμὸς πολύς, οἱ δὲ ἐργάται ὀλίγοι
ἄξιος γὰρ ὁ ἐργάτης τῆς τροφῆς αὐτοῦ
ἀρκετὸν τῷ μαθητῇ ἵνα γένηται ὡς ὁ διδάσκαλος αὐτοῦ, καὶ ὁ δοῦλος ὡς ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ
καὶ ἰδοὺ πλεῖον Ἰωνᾶ ὧδε.
ὑμῶν δὲ μακάριοι οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ὅτι βλέπουσιν, καὶ τὰ ὦτα ὑμῶν ὅτι ἀκούουσιν.
μεγάλη σου ἡ πίστις
καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Τίνος ἡ εἰκὼν αὕτη καὶ ἡ ἐπιγραφή;
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