Nominative/Accusative for Indeclinable Names

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Tim Evans
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Nominative/Accusative for Indeclinable Names

Post by Tim Evans » November 17th, 2015, 8:53 pm

Im beginning reading through John. In chapter 1, I was initially a little confused about who was saying/replying to whom when it came to Ναθαναὴλ. Is it correct to assume when the accusative definite article is added (τὸν Ναθαναὴλ) we know it is accusative, otherwise without a definite article we assume it is nominative?

I ask this, because it seems perhaps this might be a rule. Is this a rule? If so is it a hard rule, or are there exceptions?
45 εὑρίσκει Φίλιππος τὸν Ναθαναὴλ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ὃν ἔγραψεν Μωϋσῆς ἐν τῷ νόμῳ καὶ οἱ προφῆται εὑρήκαμεν, Ἰησοῦν ⸆ υἱὸν τοῦ Ἰωσὴφ τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ. 46 °καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ· ἐκ Ναζαρὲτ δύναταί τι ἀγαθὸν εἶναι; λέγει αὐτῷ °[ὁ] Φίλιππος· ἔρχου καὶ ἴδε. 47 Εἶδεν °ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὸν Ναθαναὴλ ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει περὶ αὐτοῦ· ἴδε ἀληθῶς Ἰσραηλίτης ἐν ᾧ δόλος οὐκ ἔστιν. 48 λέγει αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ· πόθεν με γινώσκεις; ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· πρὸ τοῦ σε Φίλιππον φωνῆσαι ὄντα ὑπὸ τὴν συκῆν εἶδόν σε. 49 ἀπεκρίθη ⸂αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ⸃· ῥαββί, σὺ εἶ ⸆ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, σὺ ⸄βασιλεὺς εἶ⸅ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Nominative/Accusative for Indeclinable Names

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » November 17th, 2015, 9:50 pm

Tim Evans wrote:... when the accusative definite article is added (τὸν Ναθαναὴλ) we know it is accusative, otherwise without a definite article we assume it is nominative?

45 εὑρίσκει Φίλιππος τὸν Ναθαναὴλ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ὃν ἔγραψεν Μωϋσῆς ἐν τῷ νόμῳ καὶ οἱ προφῆται εὑρήκαμεν, Ἰησοῦν ⸆ υἱὸν τοῦ Ἰωσὴφ τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ. 46 °καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ· ἐκ Ναζαρὲτ δύναταί τι ἀγαθὸν εἶναι; λέγει αὐτῷ °[ὁ] Φίλιππος· ἔρχου καὶ ἴδε. 47 Εἶδεν °ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὸν Ναθαναὴλ ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει περὶ αὐτοῦ· ἴδε ἀληθῶς Ἰσραηλίτης ἐν ᾧ δόλος οὐκ ἔστιν. 48 λέγει αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ· πόθεν με γινώσκεις; ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· πρὸ τοῦ σε Φίλιππον φωνῆσαι ὄντα ὑπὸ τὴν συκῆν εἶδόν σε. 49 ἀπεκρίθη ⸂αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ⸃· ῥαββί, σὺ εἶ ⸆ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, σὺ ⸄βασιλεὺς εἶ⸅ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ.

Why would you assume nominative? It is only nominative if the context requires a nominative constituent. Finite verbs don't always require a nominative. The finite verb w/o a nominative is very common when the subject has been introduced previously. In this dialogue the nominative case Ναθαναήλ is obvious because it is a reply and we are switching speakers back and forth.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Nominative/Accusative for Indeclinable Names

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 17th, 2015, 9:59 pm

Tim Evans wrote:Im beginning reading through John. In chapter 1, I was initially a little confused about who was saying/replying to whom when it came to Ναθαναὴλ. Is it correct to assume when the accusative definite article is added (τὸν Ναθαναὴλ) we know it is accusative, otherwise without a definite article we assume it is nominative?
It is often the case that for indeclinable names, nominatives and genitives lack the article while datives and accusatives have it.
Tim Evans wrote:I ask this, because it seems perhaps this might be a rule. Is this a rule? If so is it a hard rule, or are there exceptions?
There are few if any "hard rules." The best way to get a feel for it is to read a lot.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Tim Evans
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Re: Nominative/Accusative for Indeclinable Names

Post by Tim Evans » November 17th, 2015, 10:31 pm

Thanks guys. Your feedback is much appreciated.

I will need to move on to a more advanced grammar textbook, but for now I am hoping to enjoy the university break/holidays to enjoy some reading practice! :)
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Nominative/Accusative for Indeclinable Names

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 18th, 2015, 12:01 pm

Yes, there is no such rule. However, the article is one of the nice things that makes reading Greek a little easier. Whether or not you recognize the form of the noun or substantive, if you have the article memorized, you know what the form of the noun is. With indeclinable nouns this can be quite helpful.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Nominative/Accusative for Indeclinable Names

Post by Shirley Rollinson » November 18th, 2015, 4:23 pm

Tim Evans wrote:Thanks guys. Your feedback is much appreciated.

I will need to move on to a more advanced grammar textbook, but for now I am hoping to enjoy the university break/holidays to enjoy some reading practice! :)
You're welcome to try the (free) 0nline Greek Textbook at
http://www.drshirley.org/greek/textbook02/index.html
Have a great Thanksgiving Break
Shirley Rollinson
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