Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 19th, 2012, 9:57 am

ἔτι γὰρ Χριστὸς ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν


What's going on in this phrase? The basic meaning could have been expressed much more simply, and I'd like to better understand why Paul phrased it this way.

For instance, I assume Χριστὸς is strongly emphasized here by the fronting. What else is going on here?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 19th, 2012, 1:47 pm

Making my questions more specific:

1. I think this is a less "marked" way to express the same thing:

ἔτι γὰρ κατὰ καιρὸν,
ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν,
ἀπέθανεν Χριστὸς ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν.

Did I get that right? (I don't write much Greek.) I assume that fronting Χριστὸς this much is a strong form of emphasis? The second strangeness in the word order for me is the fact that the verb ἀπέθανεν is all the way in the back - I assume that's because ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν is emphasized? Is it fair to say that Χριστὸς is more strongly emphasized than ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν?

2. Why is ἔτι repeated in the phrase ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν? Could the second ἔτι have been omitted without loss of meaning?

3. As Rick Brannen points out, there is parallelism between verse 6 and verse 8:

ἔτι γὰρ Χριστὸς ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν
κατὰ καιρὸν
ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν

μόλις γὰρ ὑπὲρ δικαίου τις ἀποθανεῖται·
ὑπὲρ γὰρ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ τάχα τις καὶ τολμᾷ ἀποθανεῖν·

συνίστησιν δὲ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἀγάπην εἰς ἡμᾶς ὁ θεός,
ὅτι ἔτι ἁμαρτωλῶν ὄντων ἡμῶν
Χριστὸς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἀπέθανεν.

Given the parallelism of thought, why not make the wording more strongly parallel?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 19th, 2012, 5:09 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
ἔτι γὰρ Χριστὸς ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν


What's going on in this phrase? The basic meaning could have been expressed much more simply, and I'd like to better understand why Paul phrased it this way.

For instance, I assume Χριστὸς is strongly emphasized here by the fronting. What else is going on here?


This is a syntactically tough verse and it may be an example of an anacoluthon, with the repeated ἔτι.

"Enphasized" is probably not the best word because fronting has different functions. It could set a topic (what the sentence is about or its setting), or it could instantiate a focus (i.e. point out what the most meaningful part of the sentence is).

Here's how I would analyze the word order:

1. First, break up the sentence into intonation units, or cola (pl. of colon).

Often the word order gives clues to this. A genitive absolute usually gets its own colon. Enclitics and unemphatic pronouns are usually phonologically hosted by the first word. Adverbs are usually placed toward the beginning of their clauses.

In Rom 5:6, there is a genitive absolute, ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν. They often begin with the participle and the placement of pronoun confirms it. As for the right periphery of the genitive absolute, I think it does not include ἔτι.* So would analyze the cola of the verse as follows (using # as an intonation break):
an
ἔτι γὰρ Χριστός # ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν # ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν


*(I realize this is at odds with most translations, which construe ἔτι with the present-stem participle ὄντων. I can see why they do this. It is entirely natural to construe ἔτι with a present-stem verb form, rather than the aorist ἀπέθανεν. Nevertheless, I think that construing ἔτι with ἀπέθανεν is plausible because that the way the word order tells me, and also with aorists ἔτι does construe with scalar verbs or numbers, and dying is on the extreme end of the scale of possible actions.)

2. Within each colon, look for the focus structure.

Generally, the focus will be broad if the verb is first and narrow if a constituent precedes the verb. Also, various topical constituents may precede the focus. Sometimes, an entire topic can be left-dislocated to its own colon, in which case there is no narrow or broad focus.

Thus, for ἔτι γὰρ Χριστός, we have two topicalized constituents. The adverb ἔτι is temporal (setting) and the Χριστός indicates that Paul is now talking about Christ.

For ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν, everything is the normal place, broad focus, and the whole participial clause is a temporal frame (setting).

For ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν, we have two adverbs of time--probably temporal frames (setting), plus a narrow focus on ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν, followed by the verb ἀπέθανεν, something like "at the right time, it is us he still died for." The lack of an article before ἀσεβῶν strengthen the finding that ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν is in focus.

The information structure in v.8 is different. Paul is already talking about Christ, so he does not need to topicalize it as he did in v.6
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
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Re: Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Postby David Lim » March 20th, 2012, 12:31 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:Making my questions more specific:

1. I think this is a less "marked" way to express the same thing:

ἔτι γὰρ κατὰ καιρὸν,
ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν,
ἀπέθανεν Χριστὸς ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν.

Did I get that right? (I don't write much Greek.) I assume that fronting Χριστὸς this much is a strong form of emphasis? The second strangeness in the word order for me is the fact that the verb ἀπέθανεν is all the way in the back - I assume that's because ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν is emphasized? Is it fair to say that Χριστὸς is more strongly emphasized than ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν?


As Stephen has indicated in his break down of phrases, "κατα καιρον" (according to time), like "υπερ ασεβων" (for the sake of impious [ones]), describes "απεθανεν", so I would prefer to put them together: χριστος γαρ οντων ημων ασθενων ετι κατα καιρον υπερ ασεβων απεθανεν (if my understanding of "ετι" is actually correct). But certainly "χριστος" is the focus of this sentence, inasmuch as he is according to the author a highly unusual person, having died for unworthy people.

Jonathan Robie wrote:2. Why is ἔτι repeated in the phrase ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν? Could the second ἔτι have been omitted without loss of meaning?

3. As Rick Brannen points out, there is parallelism between verse 6 and verse 8:

[...]

Given the parallelism of thought, why not make the wording more strongly parallel?

Stephen Carlson wrote:This is a syntactically tough verse and it may be an example of an anacoluthon, with the repeated ἔτι.


It might be interesting to know that the Byzantine text has only the first "ετι":
[Rom 5] [6] ετι γαρ χριστος οντων ημων ασθενων κατα καιρον υπερ ασεβων απεθανεν

Stephen Carlson wrote:In Rom 5:6, there is a genitive absolute, ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν. They often begin with the participle and the placement of pronoun confirms it. As for the right periphery of the genitive absolute, I think it does not include ἔτι.* So would analyze the cola of the verse as follows (using # as an intonation break):
ἔτι γὰρ Χριστός # ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν # ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν


*(I realize this is at odds with most translations, which construe ἔτι with the present-stem participle ὄντων. I can see why they do this. It is entirely natural to construe ἔτι with a present-stem verb form, rather than the aorist ἀπέθανεν. Nevertheless, I think that construing ἔτι with ἀπέθανεν is plausible because that the way the word order tells me, and also with aorists ἔτι does construe with scalar verbs or numbers, and dying is on the extreme end of the scale of possible actions.)


I also thought the same at first, but saw that both the ASV and Darby's translation clearly construed "ετι" with "οντων ημων ασθενων" so I thought I must be mistaken. What do others think? I suppose one reason for their translations is that it would agree with the parallel two clauses later, but is that actually the intended meaning?
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Re: Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 20th, 2012, 3:56 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:1. First, break up the sentence into intonation units, or cola (pl. of colon).

Often the word order gives clues to this. A genitive absolute usually gets its own colon. Enclitics and unemphatic pronouns are usually phonologically hosted by the first word. Adverbs are usually placed toward the beginning of their clauses.


A lot like lining out a text.

Is there a good description of how to do this somewhere?

Stephen Carlson wrote:In Rom 5:6, there is a genitive absolute, ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν. They often begin with the participle and the placement of pronoun confirms it. As for the right periphery of the genitive absolute, I think it does not include ἔτι.* So would analyze the cola of the verse as follows (using # as an intonation break):
an
ἔτι γὰρ Χριστός # ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν # ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν


*(I realize this is at odds with most translations, which construe ἔτι with the present-stem participle ὄντων. I can see why they do this. It is entirely natural to construe ἔτι with a present-stem verb form, rather than the aorist ἀπέθανεν. Nevertheless, I think that construing ἔτι with ἀπέθανεν is plausible because that the way the word order tells me, and also with aorists ἔτι does construe with scalar verbs or numbers, and dying is on the extreme end of the scale of possible actions.)


That's a new understanding of the verse to me, but it does make sense.

Stephen Carlson wrote:2. Within each colon, look for the focus structure.

Generally, the focus will be broad if the verb is first and narrow if a constituent precedes the verb. Also, various topical constituents may precede the focus. Sometimes, an entire topic can be left-dislocated to its own colon, in which case there is no narrow or broad focus.

Thus, for ἔτι γὰρ Χριστός, we have two topicalized constituents. The adverb ἔτι is temporal (setting) and the Χριστός indicates that Paul is now talking about Christ.

For ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν, everything is the normal place, broad focus, and the whole participial clause is a temporal frame (setting).


What is the range of the focus here? Where does it start and end?

Stephen Carlson wrote:For ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν, we have two adverbs of time--probably temporal frames (setting), plus a narrow focus on ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν, followed by the verb ἀπέθανεν, something like "at the right time, it is us he still died for." The lack of an article before ἀσεβῶν strengthen the finding that ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν is in focus.

The information structure in v.8 is different. Paul is already talking about Christ, so he does not need to topicalize it as he did in v.6


This was a really useful post. How do I learn to do this?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 20th, 2012, 4:00 pm

David Lim wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:This is a syntactically tough verse and it may be an example of an anacoluthon, with the repeated ἔτι.


It might be interesting to know that the Byzantine text has only the first "ετι":
[Rom 5] [6] ετι γαρ χριστος οντων ημων ασθενων κατα καιρον υπερ ασεβων απεθανεν


Thanks for that - it's a little smoother that way, no? And scribes do tend to smooth things out over time ...
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Postby serunge » March 21st, 2012, 7:48 am

Jonathan,

Stephen made a good point about his reading being at odds with most translations. It's one of the many places where Greek can more elegantly encode in a single, complex clause what English would more comfortably prefer as two clauses. I also think his reading is on track. You asked about learning how to do the phrasing. The analysis of information structure and other discourse features would provide a sanity check for your to compare notes with. Here is a snap of Rom 5:6 ff for illustration sake:
Image

The superscripting identifies framing elements, typically topical elements that orient you to the main clause. Circumstantial participial clauses, due to their backgrounding function with respect to the main clause, are grayed out. The bolding signifies elements that are in marked focus. The database uses the same symbols as in Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The database is called the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. Having an analysis against which to check your work is useful, even if you disagree with the analysis.

It looks like the one disagreement is the analysis of the second ἔτι, as I place it in the genitive absolute. On Stephen's reading, the second ἔτι would be reframing the main clause with the repetition, whereas I read it as part of what is newly asserted in the participial clause. I won't die on this hill. If there was a reasonable reading possible which did not require a marked reading (e.g. taking the second ἔτι as a temporal frame for the main clause), I tended to take the unmarked reading. This would be where the analysis could provide a discussion partner with whom you could respectfully disagree, as I expect Stephen would with me here! :)

Anyhow, Stephen and I reach similar conclusions using complementary approaches, phrasing versus whatever it is I do. I think I do a similar analysis in my head, but less intentionally marked out than Stephen. Using the phrasing strategy shows your work, facilitating correction. It looks like a great strategy.
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Re: Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 21st, 2012, 8:29 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:1. First, break up the sentence into intonation units, or cola (pl. of colon).

Often the word order gives clues to this. A genitive absolute usually gets its own colon. Enclitics and unemphatic pronouns are usually phonologically hosted by the first word. Adverbs are usually placed toward the beginning of their clauses.


A lot like lining out a text.

Is there a good description of how to do this somewhere?


Unfortunately not. I'll have to write something up. David Michael Goldstein's dissertation on Wackernagel's Law in the Fifth-Century has been my inspiration on this, and my own follow up research confirms that the phrasing principles he found for Herodotus are still in operation in Koine Greek. He often appeals to pragmatics because the phrasing reflects that (rightly), but his mastery of pragmatics is not quite as sophisticated as Levinsohn or Runge.

At any rate, the placement of clausal clitics is a big clue to the left-periphery of these phrases / cola / intonation units. Vocatives, participial clauses too, make their own phrases.

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:In Rom 5:6, there is a genitive absolute, ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν. They often begin with the participle and the placement of pronoun confirms it. As for the right periphery of the genitive absolute, I think it does not include ἔτι.* So would analyze the cola of the verse as follows (using # as an intonation break):
an
ἔτι γὰρ Χριστός # ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν # ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν


*(I realize this is at odds with most translations, which construe ἔτι with the present-stem participle ὄντων. I can see why they do this. It is entirely natural to construe ἔτι with a present-stem verb form, rather than the aorist ἀπέθανεν. Nevertheless, I think that construing ἔτι with ἀπέθανεν is plausible because that the way the word order tells me, and also with aorists ἔτι does construe with scalar verbs or numbers, and dying is on the extreme end of the scale of possible actions.)


That's a new understanding of the verse to me, but it does make sense.


It's a proposal. I would need to see if it has been considered in the literature and what's wrong with it. But that's how I'm leaning.

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:2. Within each colon, look for the focus structure.

Generally, the focus will be broad if the verb is first and narrow if a constituent precedes the verb. Also, various topical constituents may precede the focus. Sometimes, an entire topic can be left-dislocated to its own colon, in which case there is no narrow or broad focus.

Thus, for ἔτι γὰρ Χριστός, we have two topicalized constituents. The adverb ἔτι is temporal (setting) and the Χριστός indicates that Paul is now talking about Christ.

For ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν, everything is the normal place, broad focus, and the whole participial clause is a temporal frame (setting).


What is the range of the focus here? Where does it start and end?


Since it begins with the verb, the entire phrase is in broad focus. What this means is that Paul in not emphasizing any particular part of the participial phrase.

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:For ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν, we have two adverbs of time--probably temporal frames (setting), plus a narrow focus on ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν, followed by the verb ἀπέθανεν, something like "at the right time, it is us he still died for." The lack of an article before ἀσεβῶν strengthen the finding that ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν is in focus.

The information structure in v.8 is different. Paul is already talking about Christ, so he does not need to topicalize it as he did in v.6


This was a really useful post. How do I learn to do this?


Unfortunately, there is no one place for it. I learned a lot from Levinsohn, Goldstein, Runge. As for the notion of information structure, Knud Lambrecht is the main go-to guy (he works with English and spoken French), though the theory I prefer is the one articulated by Manfred Krifka and Valeria Molnar.

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Re: Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 21st, 2012, 8:40 am

serunge wrote:It looks like the one disagreement is the analysis of the second ἔτι, as I place it in the genitive absolute. On Stephen's reading, the second ἔτι would be reframing the main clause with the repetition, whereas I read it as part of what is newly asserted in the participial clause. I won't die on this hill. If there was a reasonable reading possible which did not require a marked reading (e.g. taking the second ἔτι as a temporal frame for the main clause), I tended to take the unmarked reading. This would be where the analysis could provide a discussion partner with whom you could respectfully disagree, as I expect Stephen would with me here! :)


It's not a hill I would die on either. It's more of a case where certain options become more interesting now that I'm getting a feel for the Greek clause. It is usually much easier to identify the left-periphery of a clause than the right periphery, and in this case there is no prosodic evidence helping us in knowing where the the second ἔτι goes.

The usual conclusion is that the second ἔτι goes in the genitive absolute. It makes good aspectual sense and it reinforces the parallel with verse 8. I see the force of this; I really do. On other other, the alternative interpretive has just enough to merit to make it something interesting to follow up.

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Re: Word order, ετι / ετι in Romans 5:6

Postby serunge » March 21st, 2012, 8:58 am

The key thing to recognize here is that Paul has frontloaded an awful lot of information, meticulously unpacking it one bit at at time, which has the effect of building suspense. The more he adds, the more he pushes of learning what happens is this particular context: dying for the ungodly. The placement of the second ἔτι in your phrasing affects this frontloaded info. If you place it with the genitive absolute as I do, then ἔτι is part of what is newly asserted, hence stressing the condition we were in "while we were still helpless".

If you take it as Stephen does--and I agree a good case could be made for it--the second ἔτι would be a kind of "resumptive repetition," hooking back to the opening of the clause while at the same time slowing/interrupting the flow of the discourse. Most highlighting devices utilize redundancy to bring about a slowing down, which has the effect of highlighting what follows. On this view, the second ἔτι serves to link back and slow down, a very understandable reading the context.

Stephen, write the paper outlining your view and I'll likely jump in during the Q&A to defend it. You got me thinking...
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