Matthew 1:20

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Alan Bunning
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Matthew 1:20

Post by Alan Bunning » April 2nd, 2017, 10:41 am

Matthew 1:20, “τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου”

Most versions seem to translate this along the lines “that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit” from which I conclude it must be okay to separate the adjective from the noun by a verb. Is this only allowed because it is a verb of being, or can that be done with other verbs?

Would it also be acceptable to translate it in a more literal fashion as “that which is begotten in her of the Spirit is Holy”, thus treating “ἁγίου” as a predicate adjective?

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Matthew 1:20

Post by Stephen Hughes » April 2nd, 2017, 11:12 am

Alan Bunning wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 10:41 am
Matthew 1:20, “τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου”

...

Would it also be acceptable to translate it in a more literal fashion as “that which is begotten in her of the Spirit is Holy”, thus treating “ἁγίου” as a predicate adjective?
What gender and case is ἁγίου?
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Alan Bunning
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Re: Matthew 1:20

Post by Alan Bunning » April 2nd, 2017, 11:27 am

Yes, I know the genitive matches with πνεύματός, but still wondering about the verb in between. Modifying my second question then, could another acceptable translation be, “that which is begotten in her of the Spirit is of the Holy [one]”?

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Matthew 1:20

Post by Stephen Hughes » April 2nd, 2017, 11:33 am

Alan Bunning wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 11:27 am
“ begotten in her ”?
What does this mean to you?
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Alan Bunning
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Re: Matthew 1:20

Post by Alan Bunning » April 2nd, 2017, 11:39 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 11:33 am
Alan Bunning wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 11:27 am
“ begotten in her ”?
What does this mean to you?
Being born

Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Matthew 1:20

Post by Stephen Hughes » April 2nd, 2017, 12:00 pm

Alan Bunning wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 11:39 am
Stephen Hughes wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 11:33 am
Alan Bunning wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 11:27 am
“ begotten in her ”?
What does this mean to you?
Being born
She was pregnant at that time. The verb γεννάω is not just the concrete experience of birth and eary child care (cf. τίκτω) but the more higher order thinking concept of paternity / maternity as well.

What is the subject and predicate that has caused this ἐστιν to come to be in this vexing place?

Is it [τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν] is [ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου] where the participle is an articular participle, or is it [τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ] is [γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου] where the participle is used adjectivally, do you think?
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Alan Bunning
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Re: Matthew 1:20

Post by Alan Bunning » April 2nd, 2017, 12:23 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 12:00 pm
Alan Bunning wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 11:39 am
Stephen Hughes wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 11:33 am

What does this mean to you?
Being born
She was pregnant at that time. The verb γεννάω is not just the concrete experience of birth and eary child care (cf. τίκτω) but the more higher order thinking concept of paternity / maternity as well.

What is the subject and predicate that has caused this ἐστιν to come to be in this vexing place?

Is it [τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν] is [ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου] where the participle is an articular participle, or is it [τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ] is [γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου] where the participle is used adjectivally, do you think?
I am not sure. But in either case, I still don't like the verb being where it is, as it seems to set apart "ἁγίου".

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Matthew 1:20

Post by Stephen Hughes » April 2nd, 2017, 3:11 pm

Alan Bunning wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 12:23 pm
Stephen Hughes wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 12:00 pm
Is it [τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν] is [ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου] where the participle is an articular participle, or is it [τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ] is [γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου] where the participle is used adjectivally, do you think?
I am not sure. But in either case, I still don't like the verb being where it is, as it seems to set apart "ἁγίου".
I get you point about it being set apart. We can discuss that, but it will take a bit of patience to understand.

In your translation "begotten in her", it seems you have grouped the words as in:
[τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν] is [ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου]
I am inclined to take it as divided the other way:
[τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ] is [γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου]
"That which is in her is decended (traces its geneology) from the Holy Spirit."

To see how the structure is built up, have a look at these explanatory phrases:
Matthew 26:73 wrote:καὶ γὰρ ἡ λαλιά σου δῆλόν σε ποιεῖ.
for your speaking gives you away
Mark 14:70 wrote:καὶ γὰρ Γαλιλαῖος εἶ
for you are a Galilean too
The verb "to be" is at the end, after the complement.

Now have a look at what happens when a prepositional phrase is added:
Matthew 8:9 wrote:Καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπός εἰμι ὑπὸ ἐξουσίαν, ἔχων ὑπ’ ἐμαυτὸν στρατιώτας·
for I am a man under authority too, with soldiers under myself
Romans 11:1 wrote:Καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ Ἰσραηλίτης εἰμί, ἐκ σπέρματος Ἀβραάμ, φυλῆς Βενιαμίν.
for I am an Israelite too, from the lineage of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin
The verb "to be" now appears to be in the middle of the complement. This shows us where in Matthew 1:20 the ἐστιν has moved from.

The way that only the article is in front of the γάρ can be seen in this example:
1 Corinthians 9:2 wrote:ἡ γὰρ σφραγὶς τῆς ἐμῆς ἀποστολῆς ὑμεῖς ἐστε ἐν κυρίῳ.
You are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
Putting those points together, we can say that "canonically" (according to the rules of composition) it would be expected to be τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθέν ἐστιν ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου*. The question is why is it not that.

In all of these examples that we have just looked at the subject is a more abstract idea than the complement. That is to say that there is clear distinction between abstract concepts and concrete ones and that distinction is alligned with the grammar. Here is a discussion of that.

ἡ λαλιά is speech without the concrete idea of actual words, while δῆλον "disclosed", "evident" describes what is right in front of somebody's eyes, and συ "you" is a tangible person.
Here ἡ σφραγὶς is metaphorical, and ἀποστολή "apostleship", "missionary endeavour", while ὑμεῖς "you" are tangible people.

In Matthew 1:20, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου”, γεννηθὲν is in the complement, but it is the abstract idea of descent rather than "giving birth" as one might expect. γεννηθὲν moves according to rules of word order, rather than grammar, it moves to the left, the abstract side of the verb "to be", in moving, it takes the ἐκ πνεύματός with it.

That inadvertantly leaves the ἐστιν between a noun and its adjective.

If the verb had been one like κυόμενον "conceived" a concrete tactile word, rather than the more abstract γεννηθέν "beget", "be the father (not only biological) of", then there would not be a discordance between the degree of abstraction in the beginning and end of the text and the grammatical structure, and hence no need to move the ἐστιν.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Alan Bunning
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Re: Matthew 1:20

Post by Alan Bunning » April 3rd, 2017, 12:41 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
April 2nd, 2017, 3:11 pm
In Matthew 1:20, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου”, γεννηθὲν is in the complement, but it is the abstract idea of descent rather than "giving birth" as one might expect. γεννηθὲν moves according to rules of word order, rather than grammar, it moves to the left, the abstract side of the verb "to be", in moving, it takes the ἐκ πνεύματός with it.
That was very insightful and I had no idea that there was such a rule. Now I guess I am wondering if "ἐκ πνεύματός" is moved to go with "γεννηθὲν", then why didn't "ἁγίου" get to make the trip too? Is it because the adjective is used in a restrictive position (i.e. the Spirit, the holy [one])?

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Matthew 1:20

Post by Stephen Carlson » April 3rd, 2017, 12:50 am

Stephen Hughes's explanation for the word order of ἐστιν makes no sense to me.

What's going on is that ἐστιν is enclitic, and as an enclitic it has tendency to fall in the "second" position of its prosodic unit (more aptly: after the first full position). Here, the prosodic unit is ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου, with ἐκ πνεύματός in the first position (prepositions don't count for position), ἐστιν in the "second," and ἁγίου after that. The heavy subject τὸ (γὰρ) ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν is extraposed into its own unit.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

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