Verb help

Grammar questions which are not related to any specific text.

Re: Verb help

Postby WAnderson » April 30th, 2012, 4:48 pm

You got it, Jonathon. Sometimes the hardest part is just figuring out the "category."
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Re: Verb help

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 30th, 2012, 7:49 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:The categories are there to help you understand the usage. In this case, you understand the usage.


I love this statement. I am so stealing it.

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Re: Verb help

Postby Scott Lawson » April 30th, 2012, 9:45 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:I love this statement. I am so stealing it.


I protest! Stealing and crass plagiarism is the privilege of ὀι σπερμολογοι του κοσμου not Ph.Ds! Stephen, feel free to plagiarize/steal the response ἀκουσομαι σου περι τουτου και παλιν. ;) Βοy I sure hope you get my sense of humor! :shock:
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Re: Verb help

Postby Jonathan Robie » May 1st, 2012, 8:11 am

Plagiarism is the highest form of flattery.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Verb help

Postby Scott Lawson » May 1st, 2012, 8:25 am

Works for me....quite often.
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Re: Verb help

Postby Jonathan Robie » May 1st, 2012, 8:43 am

At any rate, if the hardest part is figuring out the category, don't sweat the category. As long as you understand the usage.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Verb help

Postby Scott Lawson » May 1st, 2012, 10:05 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:At any rate, if the hardest part is figuring out the category, don't sweat the category. As long as you understand the usage.


He didn't understand the usage and I think that was Mr. Anderson's point in asking. If I'm not very much mistaken the doctrine of Transubstantiation is built upon this sort of construction that Mr. Anderson was perspicacious enough to notice. I say keep developing that sharp eye for the little differences. Look at what an interesting discussion has been had over Stephen's keen eyed observation that λάθρᾳ could be construed differently than traditionally thought. A good teacher points out differences in things that are similar and if Mr. Anderson has that innate ability then more power to him!

Well that's my λεπτὰ δυό. I'm not as rich in wisdom as Jonathan or Stephen so I can't offer δραχμή.
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Re: Verb help

Postby cwconrad » May 1st, 2012, 11:25 am

Scott Lawson wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:At any rate, if the hardest part is figuring out the category, don't sweat the category. As long as you understand the usage.


He didn't understand the usage and I think that was Mr. Anderson's point in asking. If I'm not very much mistaken the doctrine of Transubstantiation is built upon this sort of construction that Mr. Anderson was perspicacious enough to notice. I say keep developing that sharp eye for the little differences. Look at what an interesting discussion has been had over Stephen's keen eyed observation that λάθρᾳ could be construed differently than traditionally thought. A good teacher points out differences in things that are similar and if Mr. Anderson has that innate ability then more power to him!

Well that's my λεπτὰ δυό. I'm not as rich in wisdom as Jonathan or Stephen so I can't offer δραχμή.


But you make a point, sir! I think there've been two distinct (at least two?) factors in play in this discussion:
(1) the distinction between the "equative" or "copulative" function of the verb εἶναι and its "existential" function -- and the kinds of confusion and even of metaphysical implications associated with these functions (one can point to Parmenides' great poem on the permutations of ἐστίν as well as to the doctrine of "transubstantiation" as grist for that mill;
(2) the "chicken-egg" question of whether one needs grammatical categories in order to understand a text or utterance. I am one who believes that one does not need grammatical categories if one has understood a text or utterance intuitively. Analysis and categories will come into play when one's original understanding is challenged (" ... but that's not what I said," or " .. .but that's not what I meant" or when one has not understood the text or utterance intuitively. That's when one needs to consider the alternative possibilities or see additional illumination about the text or utterance -- or when we must ask the question whether the assertion in question was intended to be understood literally or figuratively.
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πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Verb help

Postby Scott Lawson » May 1st, 2012, 12:16 pm

Hmmm...which point of view incites one to openly ask questions the chicke or the egg?
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Re: Verb help

Postby Jonathan Robie » May 1st, 2012, 3:08 pm

I'm not sure we're answering WAnderson's question at a level appropriate to the Beginner's Forum. Let me try to sort some things out that have been said ...

Carl mentions two main functions for use of the verb εἰμί:

  • The "equative" or "copulative" function links a subject to a predicate: John 8:12 ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κοσμοῦ (I am the light of the world", John 8:13 ἡ μαρτυρία σου οὐκ ἔστιν ἀληθής (your testimony is not true)
  • The "existential" function tells us what things exist: John 1:1 ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος (in the beginning was the Word), John 4:46 Ἦν δέ βασιλικός, οὗ ὁ υἱὸς ἠσθένει, ἐν Καφαρναούμ (there was a nobleman...), Hebrews 11:6 χωρὶς δὲ πίστεως ἀδύνατον εὐαρεστῆσαι, πιστεῦσαι γὰρ δεῖ τὸν προσερχόμενον θεῷ, ὅτι ἔστιν καὶ τοῖς ἐκζητοῦσιν αὐτὸν μισθαποδότης γίνεται. Here, ὅτι ἔστιν = "that he exists".

English has both these uses, as Wikipedia points out, adding a few of its own categories along the way:

    Copular meanings ...

  • Identity: "I only want to be myself." "When the area behind the dam fills, it will be a lake." "The Morning Star is the Evening Star." "Boys will be boys."
  • Class membership. To belong to a set or class: "She could be a nurse." "Dogs are canines." "Moscow is a large city." Depending on one's point of view, all other uses can be considered derivatives of this use, including the following non-copular uses in English, as they all express a subset relationship.
  • Predication (property and relation attribution): "It hurts to be blue." "Will that house be big enough?" "The hen is next to the cockerel." "I am confused." Such attributes may also relate to temporary conditions as well as inherent qualities: "I will be tired after running." "Will you be going to the play tomorrow?" but please note that a linking verb has nothing to do with these so called "Be"- verbs (see below).
!!! SNIP !!!
To be" also has a non-copular use meaning "to exist" (existential verb): "I want only to be, and that is enough." "To be or not to be, that is the question." "I think therefore I am."


These categories may or may not help you, most native speakers of English already know that the verb "to be" can be used in these ways, and Greek is similar in this regard.

Now back to your original question:

WAnderson wrote:Matt. 13:37 "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man"; and Rev. 1:20 "the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."


I think you know what these verses mean, in English or in Greek. I think you also know that there's a figure of speech here - the sower is not literally the Son of Man, the stars or lampstands are not literally churches, they stand for these things. It's a metaphor, like this famous Shakespeare metaphor:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances


So this is a normal use of the verb "to be", with a metaphor. I don't think we need to create a new category for metaphorical uses of the verb "to be", but you can call it something like the "metaphorical function" if you find it helpful. I can also tell a toddler "I'm a big green monster", which would be the "I'm just pretending function" if you want to create a category for it. But I think that conflates the use of the verb itself with figures of speech that can be used with the verb. Different people have different sets of categories, and it's often hard to relate one person's categories to another person's.

I'm suspicious of the Interpretive Present

These verbs seek to explain the meaning of events, sayings, or parables from the theological perspective. They differ from explanatory presents, which explain more technical matters of language or custom.

Thus estin in Matthew 3:3 is interpretive, "This is that which was spoken through Isaiah," and in 7:12, "This is the law and the prophets." Matthew 11:14 provides an important interpretive use as well: "and if you wish to receive (it), he is Elijah who is about to come." Often this present is used in the explanation of parables--e.g., "The one sowing the good seed is the son of man" (Mt. 13:37). This author included the crucial passage Matthew 26:26 in this category: "Take, eat, this is my body." The identity of the bread with Christ's body springs from theological truth and symbolism, not physical equality (Jn. 6:63). Sometimes the wording of the passage causes another verb to be used besides estin, as Mark 4:14, "The sower sows the word."


I don't think Greek has special categories of usage for theological truths. And I don't think the verb itself tells us whether Matthew 26:26 is meant literally or figuratively (e.g. as metonomy).
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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