Breaking down sentences, i.e. John 6:57

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Tim Evans
Posts: 88
Joined: July 10th, 2015, 1:40 am

Breaking down sentences, i.e. John 6:57

Post by Tim Evans » December 13th, 2015, 6:40 pm

Hi Guys,

While I believe I have an accurate ability to recognise the role nominative/accusative in a basic sentence, and I do generally recognise correctly the subject/objects while practicing reading the NT, There have been some cases in the greek NT, where I am mixing up the subject/object position, I think when there are multiple phrases or clauses in one sentence. I wonder if there is something that I am missing, I hope this is a simple enough example:
καθὼς ἀπέστειλέν με ὁ ζῶν πατὴρ κἀγὼ ζῶ διὰ τὸν πατέρα, καὶ ὁ τρώγων με κἀκεῖνος ζήσει δι᾿ ἐμέ.
When I read this, I get mixed up, because I initially read it as:
Just as he sent me—the living father and I live because of the father
So in other words, I think I'm seeing "ὁ ζῶν πατὴρ" as part of the next subject of the next clause instead of belonging as the subject of the first clause. As in my English above, usually the resulting english doesn't make sense, and I work out the mistake pretty quickly, but sometimes I don't.

Is there something that I have missed from first year greek that would help with this? Perhaps in this particular example, I need to recognise κἀγὼ as a break in the sentence somehow? Any pointers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Breaking down sentences, i.e. John 6:57

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 13th, 2015, 10:20 pm

The edition could have facilitated the segmentation with a comma, but I don't know the philosophy behind the punctuation, except that it is modern, not ancient. The audience would have heard the sentence break in the right place.

Subjects often follow the verb, so you should be on the look out for that. Also, sentences are usually signaled with connectives, so the lack of a connective before ὁ ζῶν πατήρ should be another clue that may belong to the preceding verb. Another clue that is that ζῶ is first person singular, so the subject is probably not coordinated by καί.

None of these clues are fool-proof: you have to be attentive to the context.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1561
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Breaking down sentences, i.e. John 6:57

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 14th, 2015, 7:07 am

Tim Evans wrote:Hi Guys,

While I believe I have an accurate ability to recognise the role nominative/accusative in a basic sentence, and I do generally recognise correctly the subject/objects while practicing reading the NT, There have been some cases in the greek NT, where I am mixing up the subject/object position, I think when there are multiple phrases or clauses in one sentence. I wonder if there is something that I am missing, I hope this is a simple enough example:
καθὼς ἀπέστειλέν με ὁ ζῶν πατὴρ κἀγὼ ζῶ διὰ τὸν πατέρα, καὶ ὁ τρώγων με κἀκεῖνος ζήσει δι᾿ ἐμέ.
When I read this, I get mixed up, because I initially read it as:
Just as he sent me—the living father and I live because of the father
So in other words, I think I'm seeing "ὁ ζῶν πατὴρ" as part of the next subject of the next clause instead of belonging as the subject of the first clause. As in my English above, usually the resulting english doesn't make sense, and I work out the mistake pretty quickly, but sometimes I don't.

Is there something that I have missed from first year greek that would help with this? Perhaps in this particular example, I need to recognise κἀγὼ as a break in the sentence somehow? Any pointers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
You essentially have two coordinate clauses connected by καί. (κἀγώ = καὶ έγώ). This is where it helps to remember our early instruction, that word order is less important than looking at your endings (though the fact that the verb is fronted is important, but not for the "basic" understanding of the sentence). ὁ ζῶν πατήρ is the nominative singular subject with the third person singular ἀπέστειλέν. καί could signal more than one kind of connective or even be used adverbially to mean "also" or "even" but Stephen is of course right -- context, and here especially followed by a first person singular pronoun and verb indicates a new clause. The use of the pronoun for emphasis is also significant, as is possibly the slight chiasmus between the two clauses, so word order does have meaning -- but not at the level of just getting the idea of the sentence.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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