Plural and singular idioms with pronouns.

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Plural and singular idioms with pronouns.

Postby Stephen Hughes » March 9th, 2014, 9:14 am

Matthew 26:39 wrote:ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ
{Jesus} fell on his face


Matthew 17:6 wrote:Καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ μαθηταὶ ἔπεσον ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν σφόδρα.
... they fell upon their face ...


Revelations 7:11 wrote:Καὶ πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι εἱστήκεισαν κύκλῳ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καὶ τῶν τεσσάρων ζῴων, καὶ ἔπεσον ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου ἐπὶ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν, καὶ προσεκύνησαν τῷ Θεῷ,


The first one is logical enough. Which one is "correct" for the plural? The second or the third?
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Re: Plural and singular idioms with pronouns.

Postby David Lim » March 9th, 2014, 9:57 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Matthew 17:6 wrote:Καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ μαθηταὶ ἔπεσον ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν σφόδρα.
... they fell upon their face ...


Revelations 7:11 wrote:Καὶ πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι εἱστήκεισαν κύκλῳ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καὶ τῶν τεσσάρων ζῴων, καὶ ἔπεσον ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου ἐπὶ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν, καὶ προσεκύνησαν τῷ Θεῷ,


The first one is logical enough. Which one is "correct" for the plural? The second or the third?

According to the LXX+NT, both are correct. The singular face for multiple people occurs at Num 16:22,45, Deut 2:25, Jdg 13:20, 1 Ki 18:39, 1 Chr 21:16, Matt 17:6, and for multiple objects at 1 Ki 7:6, 2 Chr 34:4, Ezek 40:12. No others were found in the NT.

But then I've a question. Why is the singular always without the definite article? Is it precisely because it refers to the generic action of 'falling upon the face' applied to many people that it is not definite, in contrast to the plural in Mal 2:3, Rev 7:11, 11:16 which actually refers to the faces of the people? There is one plural without the article in Ezek 32:10.
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Is there a nuance of difference between them?

Postby Stephen Hughes » March 9th, 2014, 11:41 pm

David Lim wrote:According to the LXX+NT, both are correct.

Is there a nuance of difference between them?
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Re: Is there a nuance of difference between them?

Postby David Lim » March 10th, 2014, 4:12 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
David Lim wrote:According to the LXX+NT, both are correct.

Is there a nuance of difference between them?

I've probably just as much idea as you. It doesn't help that there is only one occurrence in the NT, because the only parsed text I have is the LXX+NT, and it is clear that the LXX bears some influence from the Hebrew grammar. But if my language intuition is reliable at all, I suspect that the article is just performing its typical function of identifying definite entities, so if it is indefinite (which must be without the article) it focuses on the action (and hence must be singular because each person has only one face), and if it is definite (which is usually with the article and can be either singular or plural) it actually calls to mind the referent, something like the difference between "they bowed the knee" and "they bowed their knees".
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Re: Plural and singular idioms with pronouns.

Postby Barry Hofstetter » March 10th, 2014, 6:52 am

The use of the grammatical singular is what I would call a distributive singular, each individual falling on his/her/its face. I don't think there's any meaningful distinction at all...
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Re: Plural and singular idioms with pronouns.

Postby David Lim » March 10th, 2014, 6:58 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:The use of the grammatical singular is what I would call a distributive singular, each individual falling on his/her/its face. I don't think there's any meaningful distinction at all...

Yes, I meant a distinction purely in the sense of the words chosen, and not in the sense of the meaning intended, in case what I said wasn't clear.
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