Mark 2:2 -- Function of the article

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Bob Nyberg
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Mark 2:2 -- Function of the article

Post by Bob Nyberg » July 12th, 2011, 12:37 pm

Hi,

I have a question about the usage of the accusative plural neuter article τὰ in Mark 2:2.

καὶ συνήχθησαν πολλοὶ ὥστε μηκέτι χωρεῖν μηδὲ τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν, καὶ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς τὸν λόγον.

I am trying to understand how the article is functioning in this verse.

The only categories I can find in Wallace that seem to fit its function here might be “relative pronoun” (which) or “deictic” (pointing article).

Why is the article plural neuter? Is the article referring to or pointing at the “places/spaces/areas” near/by/at the door?

Thanks for your help.

Bob
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Randall Tan
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Re: Mark 2:2 -- Function of the article

Post by Randall Tan » July 12th, 2011, 2:44 pm

Since you are using Wallace, it is easiest to refer you to the relevant section in Wallace. See the chapter on the article under:

3. As a Substantiver (With Certain Parts of Speech), starting on p. 231 of the electronic version (I'm using the Logos version). The specific applicable section is:
6) With a Prepositional Phrase
Similar to the use with genitive words and phrases is the use of the article to nominalize a prepositional phrase.

The neuter plural article in such usage often implies "things." In Mark 2:2, perhaps "parts," plural of μέρος, ους, τό is implied.

Yes, the nominalized prepositional phrase is "referring to or pointing at the 'places/spaces/areas' near/by/at the door."
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Randall Tan

Bob Nyberg
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Re: Mark 2:2 -- Function of the article

Post by Bob Nyberg » July 12th, 2011, 3:57 pm

Thanks Randall. That's just what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I stopped reading in Wallace before I got to that section so I posted my question instead. Should have read a bit farther. :D

Bob
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Mark 2:2 -- Function of the article

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 12th, 2011, 4:21 pm

Bob Nyberg wrote:Thanks Randall. That's just what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I stopped reading in Wallace before I got to that section so I posted my question instead. Should have read a bit farther. :D
No shame in that, though, in the Beginner's Section especially.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

cwconrad
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Re: Mark 2:2 -- Function of the article

Post by cwconrad » July 12th, 2011, 5:02 pm

Mark 2:2 καὶ συνήχθησαν πολλοὶ ὥστε μηκέτι χωρεῖν μηδὲ τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν, καὶ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς τὸν λόγον.

The question originally asked concerned only the function of the article in the phrase, τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν. That problem has been resolved, I think, already. But: I can remember confronting this text as a college freshman more than half a century ago and finding the grammatical construction exceedingly strange. Even after one grasps that τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν means something like "spaces near the door," there's still the puzzle of how the infinitive χωρεὶν here relates to that substantival phrase τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν. I'm not sure that everyone will agree with my judgment here, but I think that χωρεῖν is used impersonally and that ὥστε μηκέτι χωρεῖν means, in essence, "so that there was no leeway." But then how is μηδὲ τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν to construe with that? I think some would like to understand τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν as the subject of χωρεῖν: "so that not even the places near the door yielded room to budge." But on this view χωρεῖν will be used absolutely (i.e. without an object). I don't suppose anybody would try to consrue τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν as an object of χωρεῖν.and yet there are instances of accusative complements of χωρεῖν (BDAG s.v. χωρέω §3. My own preference is to understand τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν as an accusative phrase of specification qualifying μὴ χωρεὶν: "so that there was no spare room, not even near the door." The irony is that no matter how one construes τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν in relation to μὴ χωρεῖν, the sense of the passage is, for all practical purposes, the same: "People were jam-packed so tight that there was no room to budge, not even near the door." The sentence has all the marks of a colloquial idiomatic phrase, whether it really is one or not. It's one reason why one is very hesitant to suppose that the Greek text is corrupt or that the author didn't quite know how to express what he was saying. There is, in fact, quite a bit of stuff like this in the Greek text of Mark's gospel.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Bob Nyberg
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Re: Mark 2:2 -- Function of the article

Post by Bob Nyberg » July 13th, 2011, 2:42 pm

Thanks Carl. That is very helpful.

Actually, I was wondering about that also. I knew that that article in τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν was accusative, but was not sure what it was the object of or what it was referring back to.

Bob
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