Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

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Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

Postby cwconrad » January 20th, 2014, 9:17 am

I’m posting this reply to Stephen Carlson’s entry elsewhere in this forum s.v. “Re: Romans 15:13 & 33” http://ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1981&sid=af8225dd4e628108513804f51c704ec7.

Stephen Carlson wrote:I have to admit that I'm always surprised to learn of yet another genitive category found in Wallace's syntax. I'm really suspicious about this one (the so-called "genitive of product"), however. I would have classified it as "aporetic" ;-) Still, I would like to get a better handle on genitives, perhaps with a semantic map or something.

As to the surprise I must chime in: "Me too!" I've voiced my amusement in many an "ad nauseam" comment on Wallace's penchant for practicing the fine art of hair-splitting on the adnominal genitive. It certainly does require chutzpah to invent an "aporetic genitive" -- to confess that one has multiplied silliness to the nth degree. On the other hand, I really have my doubts about the usefulness of any effort to construct a semantic map of the adnominal genitive in Greek, inasmuch as it seems to me a structural configuration rather than a semantic one. I really wonder whether such a “map” or “catalog” could be constructed without developing or employing some existing metalinguistic framework for this purpose. That might be a useful question to explore under “Grammar and Syntax.”

But there’s a real pedagogical question here too. For years I've been inclined to think that there was something wrong-headed about GGBB but that it was nevertheless good to have among reference works on Biblical Greek grammar. Now I wonder whether that judgment wasn't really too generous. This second-year or intermediate grammar is the epitome of the grammar-translation pedagogical method, predicated on the proposition that understanding the structure of a Biblical Greek construction is essentially equivalent to converting the construction into English and thereby formulating English terminology and English structures as handles for the recurrent patterns of Greek usage. Am I wrong to describe the methodology of this grammar like that? I really don't want to be unfair, but unless one thinks that is the right way to go about understanding Greek grammatical constructions, is there any reason to recommend this reference grammar?
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

Postby NathanSmith » January 20th, 2014, 12:00 pm

In my undergraduate program we studied Wallace in the 3rd year advanced courses. In the fourth year we had a reading course outside of the New Testament (apostolic fathers, LXX, Josephus, and some of the classics). When I made it to fourth year, there was only one other student, and we met in our professor's office. As it happens, my fellow student was also taking the 3rd year courses and reading Wallace at the time. Frequently during our reading/translation/discussion of e.g. Homer, he would try to apply some of Wallace's more precise categories to the text. Our professor had to carefully disabuse him of that tendency.

My program even had a full second year of pure reading and vocabulary before exposing us to "advanced" grammar (hence Wallace being studied in the 3rd year, not the typical 2nd). I think that was invaluable, but I wonder in retrospect if there should not have been more reading and perhaps composition.

After getting out of school and comparing my education with students of other languages, I was interested by the extremely technical familiarity with grammar NT Greek students had while being largely unable to read and comprehend proficiently nor communicate at all.

So yes, I more or less agree about your assessment of Wallace and its use in Greek pedagogy. Should students being taught to read Greek even receive such a level of grammar education? Most speakers of native languages lack so much precision about their own grammar.
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Re: Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

Postby Alan Patterson » January 20th, 2014, 12:13 pm

Dr. Conrad wrote:

As to the surprise I must chime in: "Me too!" I've voiced my amusement in many an "ad nauseam" comment on Wallace's penchant for practicing the fine art of hair-splitting on the adnominal genitive. It certainly does require chutzpah to invent an "aporetic genitive" -- to confess that one has multiplied silliness to the nth degree. On the other hand, I really have my doubts about the usefulness of any effort to construct a semantic map of the adnominal genitive in Greek, inasmuch as it seems to me a structural configuration rather than a semantic one. I really wonder whether such a “map” or “catalog” could be constructed without developing or employing some existing metalinguistic framework for this purpose. That might be a useful question to explore under “Grammar and Syntax.”

But there’s a real pedagogical question here too. For years I've been inclined to think that there was something wrong-headed about GGBB but that it was nevertheless good to have among reference works on Biblical Greek grammar. Now I wonder whether that judgment wasn't really too generous. This second-year or intermediate grammar is the epitome of the grammar-translation pedagogical method, predicated on the proposition that understanding the structure of a Biblical Greek construction is essentially equivalent to converting the construction into English and thereby formulating English terminology and English structures as handles for the recurrent patterns of Greek usage. Am I wrong to describe the methodology of this grammar like that? I really don't want to be unfair, but unless one thinks that is the right way to go about understanding Greek grammatical constructions, is there any reason to recommend this reference grammar?


To me, this hair-splitting is nothing more than showing another nuance of a Genitive and how it is to be understood.

Apparently Dan made the decision to explain how the Greek is to be explained in a Target Language; in other words, the intricacies of translation. However, this is just a guess. I don't have a problem with his explaining Greek to us English folks and the nuances of the language. Based on his "ad nauseum" of categories, I have a better understanding of the nuances and complexities of the Greek Genitive. Dan is a stickler for details, and I mean to the extent that it almost becomes bizarre. My mentor worked with Dan for quite some time and has firsthand knowledge of Dan's quirks. Overall, Dan is a humble, godly man who is trying to work within his personality type to get the points across.
χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη,
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Re: Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

Postby James Cuénod » January 21st, 2014, 3:53 am

I never used GGBB at college (apart from reading one section on a particular point of grammar) and I hear your point Carl.
I don't see a point in trying to categorise every usage of the genitive that I come across but what I think is useful is the documentation of a range of usages for various grammatical constructions.
I've found GGBB helpful in that it has broadened my awareness of how constructions can be used and the range of plausible options for their meanings.
Without that I'm stuck with "the genitive case equates to the use of of in English (or adding 's)" (we used Duff in 1st year)
So as I read now, I don't think, "ahh, the aporetic usage" 8-) - but in the back of my mind I have more than just "genetive = of", GGBB can help to replace those simplistic explanations with some breadth of awareness.
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Re: Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 21st, 2014, 4:49 am

cwconrad wrote:As to the surprise I must chime in: "Me too!" I've voiced my amusement in many an "ad nauseam" comment on Wallace's penchant for practicing the fine art of hair-splitting on the adnominal genitive. It certainly does require chutzpah to invent an "aporetic genitive" -- to confess that one has multiplied silliness to the nth degree. On the other hand, I really have my doubts about the usefulness of any effort to construct a semantic map of the adnominal genitive in Greek, inasmuch as it seems to me a structural configuration rather than a semantic one. I really wonder whether such a “map” or “catalog” could be constructed without developing or employing some existing metalinguistic framework for this purpose. That might be a useful question to explore under “Grammar and Syntax.”

I'm not I'm getting the distinction between semantics and structure, as I think there are important elements of both. "Semantic maps" are also called "conceptual maps," so I don't think they are as narrow as you are suggesting. Like any tool, some people find them helpful, but others don't. I am not one to prejudge their usefulness until I see the product. I also take the view that observations don't make sense without a theoretical framework, pretty much regardless of what field one is in. There is no such thing as theory-free observation.

That said, Wallace is definitely a "splitter" -- and those who fall on the "lumper" side of the divide (which permeates many fields beyond Greek grammar) will be exasperated by it. But these are the basic options: (1) one can split up all the meanings of the genitive into a bunch of different categories, (2) one can lump them all together into one, or (3) one can do some kind of a hybrid, hopefully in a principled way. No matter which option one picks, there is a theoretical framework.

cwconrad wrote:But there’s a real pedagogical question here too. For years I've been inclined to think that there was something wrong-headed about GGBB but that it was nevertheless good to have among reference works on Biblical Greek grammar. Now I wonder whether that judgment wasn't really too generous. This second-year or intermediate grammar is the epitome of the grammar-translation pedagogical method, predicated on the proposition that understanding the structure of a Biblical Greek construction is essentially equivalent to converting the construction into English and thereby formulating English terminology and English structures as handles for the recurrent patterns of Greek usage. Am I wrong to describe the methodology of this grammar like that? I really don't want to be unfair, but unless one thinks that is the right way to go about understanding Greek grammatical constructions, is there any reason to recommend this reference grammar?

Mike's post on the different levels of adequacy may be a helpful way to look at this.

The lowest level is "observational adequacy" and it looks at whether he has exhaustively and discretely enumerated all the recognizably distinct usages of the genitive and placed them correctly among his categories. If one would like to fault Wallace in terms of observational adequacy one should be able to point to uses of the genitive that either he's overlooked or don't fall into his categories. Also, miscategorized examples would be a problem.

The next level is "descriptive adequacy" and we can look to see if Wallace has articulated rules for making a principled choice among his categories. To this end, he offers Engilsh glosses for each category, and asks the student to translate the various options into different English sentences using the glosses. Once they are all in English, the student is to use their linguistic intuition within their native English and come up with the choice. To some extent, the proliferation of categories helps to reduce the mismatch between Greek and English in teasing out the semantics but it then leaves the student with little basis for deciding among the very many viable options.

The highest level is "explanatory adequacy" and this gets into more theoretical concerns, such as the whole splitter-lumper debate, as well as which linguistic theory one subscribes to.

In my personal experience, I did not learn Greek from GGBB, so I cannot say how helpful that is. For my own exegesis over the years, I have usually found BDF more helpful than Wallace in addressing the particular questions I've had of the text. When I got into my doctoral work, even BDF stopped being adequate and I needed the Runge, Levinsohn stuff to make sense of what I need to understand in the text.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

Postby Barry Hofstetter » January 21st, 2014, 9:33 am

Just an amusing note. On the "New Testament Greek Club" on Facebook, I mentioned the normal criticism we seem to have here about Wallace, and particularly the multiplication of genitives, and was told that my real problem must be theological disagreement with Wallace, I assured my correspondent that no, my concerns were strictly methodological.

On the more serious side, I find far too often that people are studying grammars such as Wallace rather than spending the time reading the Greek text, and then using the grammars as reference tools. As I mentioned on the Greek Club, if you spend a lot of time reading grammars, you get good at reading grammars. If you spend a lot of time reading Greek...
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Re: Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » January 21st, 2014, 12:16 pm

What does GGBB (I don't own it so cannot look.) say about ...

Acts 19:33a ἐκ δὲ τοῦ ὄχλου συνεβίβασαν Ἀλέξανδρον, προβαλόντων αὐτὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων·
conjectural emendation: Acts 19:33a [[τινες]]* δὲ ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου συνεβίβασαν Ἀλέξανδρον, προβαλόντων αὐτὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων·

… where in the Alexandrian Text ἐκ with a genitive functions as the subject of συνεβίβασαν without τινες which would make it more readable.

GGBB serves a useful function for some students. The downside is the need to unlearn the mental habits that it instills in the student. These mental habits are very difficult to shed once they become entrenched.
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Re: Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

Postby cwconrad » January 21st, 2014, 2:21 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:What does GGBB (I don't own it so cannot look.) say about ...

Acts 19:33a ἐκ δὲ τοῦ ὄχλου συνεβίβασαν Ἀλέξανδρον, προβαλόντων αὐτὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων·
conjectural emendation: Acts 19:33a [[τινες]]* δὲ ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου συνεβίβασαν Ἀλέξανδρον, προβαλόντων αὐτὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων·.

… where in the Alexandrian Text ἐκ with a genitive functions as the subject of συνεβίβασαν without τινες which would make it more readable.


Wallace makes no reference to this passage in his discussion of the Partitive Genitive (page 84), which he seems to prefer to call the "Wholative Genitive". He does note:
4) Occasionally, the noun to which the genitive is related is absent, understood from the context. (One will also see this frequently with ἐκ + the gen. [e.g., Matt 27:48; John 11:49; 16:17], which often has a partitive force to it.37) Therefore, sometimes it is necessary to supply the “part” in order to determine whether or not the genitive is partitive.

5) An almost invariable formula that the partitive genitive follows includes such head substantives as: τις, ἕκαστος,39 and especially εἷς. That is to say, in such constructions, the genitive will routinely be partitive.


Stirling Bartholomew wrote:GGBB serves a useful function for some students. The downside is the need to unlearn the mental habits that it instills in the student. These mental habits are very difficult to shed once they become entrenched.

I'd have to agree with this. The grammar-translation pedagogy is pretty well entrenched; it's clear that many are quite comfortable with it. Students whose concern with the NT Greek text is chiefly to convert it into English will deem this resource useful. On the other hand, I'm inclined to agree with Barry, that it isn't all that helpful for reading the Greek text of the NT.
Carl W. Conrad
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… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 22nd, 2014, 1:12 am

cwconrad wrote:
Stirling Bartholomew wrote:What does GGBB (I don't own it so cannot look.) say about ...

Acts 19:33a ἐκ δὲ τοῦ ὄχλου συνεβίβασαν Ἀλέξανδρον, προβαλόντων αὐτὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων·
conjectural emendation: Acts 19:33a [[τινες]]* δὲ ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου συνεβίβασαν Ἀλέξανδρον, προβαλόντων αὐτὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων·.

… where in the Alexandrian Text ἐκ with a genitive functions as the subject of συνεβίβασαν without τινες which would make it more readable.

Wallace makes no reference to this passage in his discussion of the Partitive Genitive (page 84), which he seems to prefer to call the "Wholative Genitive". He does note:
4) Occasionally, the noun to which the genitive is related is absent, understood from the context. (One will also see this frequently with ἐκ + the gen. [e.g., Matt 27:48; John 11:49; 16:17], which often has a partitive force to it.37) Therefore, sometimes it is necessary to supply the “part” in order to determine whether or not the genitive is partitive.

5) An almost invariable formula that the partitive genitive follows includes such head substantives as: τις, ἕκαστος,39 and especially εἷς. That is to say, in such constructions, the genitive will routinely be partitive.

It is not such a given that the ἐκ c. gen. is the subject. The verb συνβιβάζω can be used c. ἐκ indicating where the thing(s) that are drawn together come from. That is seen in
Ephesians 4.16 and Colosians 2.19 wrote:[κεφαλή] ἐξ οὗ πᾶν τὸ σῶμα, ... συμβιβαζόμενον


CSB, if you were considering the Byzantine text form with προβιβάζω then there would be more of a case of take it as subject in some way because that verb has no other examples of it being constructed naturally with an ἐκ c. gen.
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Re: Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 22nd, 2014, 3:52 am

cwconrad wrote:Wallace makes no reference to this passage in his discussion of the Partitive Genitive (page 84), which he seems to prefer to call the "Wholative Genitive".

That tends to be my problem with Wallace: often the passages I have a question about are not discussed in the grammar, even though many other less controversial ones are. BDF tends to have better coverage of the less straightforward cases.
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