Word Order in Matt 21:33

Stephen Carlson
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Word Order in Matt 21:33

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 10th, 2016, 8:10 pm

Matt 21:33b-h wrote:ἄνθρωπος ἦν οἰκοδεσπότης ὅστις ἔφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα καὶ φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν καὶ ὤρυξεν ἐν αὐτῷ ληνὸν καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν.
Why is φραγμόν the only object fronted in this description of the vineyard in the parable of the tenants?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Word Order in Matt 21:33

Post by Jonathan Robie » February 10th, 2016, 8:54 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Matt 21:33b-h wrote:ἄνθρωπος ἦν οἰκοδεσπότης ὅστις ἔφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα καὶ φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν καὶ ὤρυξεν ἐν αὐτῷ ληνὸν καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν.
Why is φραγμόν the only object fronted in this description of the vineyard in the parable of the tenants?
I'm not at all deep in discourse analysis, I'd like to understand why you say it is fronted.

If it's local to φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν, what should convince me that this is fronted? Consider the statistical distribution in Dag Haug's analysis of Attic Greek and New Testament Greek. In the latter, SOV is the second most common pattern. And in the vast majority of cases, S is not explicit, so we should be cautions about overinterpreting the statistical distribution of the small minority of clauses that contain all three.

So before we discuss why this is fronted, can you explain why you are convinced that it is fronted?
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Re: Word Order in Matt 21:33

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 10th, 2016, 9:03 pm

I don't understand the sticking point. Fronted = initial position in its clause.
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Re: Word Order in Matt 21:33

Post by MAubrey » February 10th, 2016, 9:18 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:So before we discuss why this is fronted, can you explain why you are convinced that it is fronted?
Statistics don't determine what is and isn't marked, Jonathan. The question is which order can explain the emergence of the others. So even if one order is the second most frequent, it still might be best explained syntactically as being a divergence from a more basic order. And the consensus these days is that verb-initial is the basic order. Does that make sense?
Stephen Carlson wrote:Why is φραγμόν the only object fronted in this description of the vineyard in the parable of the tenants?
That's a good question.

I might hypothesize that the fence is salient for the narrative in terms of private ownership in the context of keeping the rightful owner out. And then, in turn, the rest of the building fo the vineyard is simply procedural.

This seems to be case of "We will probably never know the motivation." We can know that φραγμὸν is argument focus and we can know that the following clauses are predicate focus, but beyond that, I'm afraid we can only guess.
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Re: Word Order in Matt 21:33

Post by Jonathan Robie » February 10th, 2016, 9:30 pm

MAubrey wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:So before we discuss why this is fronted, can you explain why you are convinced that it is fronted?
Statistics don't determine what is and isn't marked, Jonathan. The question is which order can explain the emergence of the others. So even if one order is the second most frequent, it still might be best explained syntactically as being a divergence from a more basic order. And the consensus these days is that verb-initial is the basic order. Does that make sense?
This may be a topic for another thread, but I've read some of this work, and I've not yet been able to understand the evidence that one order is "a divergence from" another order, or that there is a default order in Greek. Especially since verb-initial does not seem to be the most frequent, at least not consistently. Two tables from Dag's presentations ...
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So what does "is a divergence from" mean? Somehow, this feels like it rhymes with deep structure ;->
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Word Order in Matt 21:33

Post by Jonathan Robie » February 10th, 2016, 9:45 pm

Actually there's no S here, φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν is O IO V, which really is statistically unusual, putting both objects before the verb.

Looking at just this snippet, I see six possible orders:
  1. ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα καὶ φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν
  2. ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα καὶ φραγμὸν περιέθηκεν αὐτῷ
  3. ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα καὶ περιέθηκεν αὐτῷ φραγμὸν
  4. ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα καὶ περιέθηκεν φραγμὸν αὐτῷ
  5. ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα καὶ αὐτῷ φραγμὸν περιέθηκεν
  6. ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα καὶ αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν φραγμὸν
Anyone want to interpret these orders for me?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Word Order in Matt 21:33

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 10th, 2016, 9:50 pm

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:Why is φραγμόν the only object fronted in this description of the vineyard in the parable of the tenants?
That's a good question.

I might hypothesize that the fence is salient for the narrative in terms of private ownership in the context of keeping the rightful owner out. And then, in turn, the rest of the building fo the vineyard is simply procedural.
Maybe.... it would be nice if the fence figured in the plot more explicitly but it just seems mentioned and dropped.
MAubrey wrote:This seems to be case of "We will probably never know the motivation." We can know that φραγμὸν is argument focus and we can know that the following clauses are predicate focus, but beyond that, I'm afraid we can only guess.
If it's argument focus (and it certainly seems to be based on the the word order), I wonder what the focus alternatives are. What else could be put around a vineyard?

Checking Davies and Allison's commentary in the ICC, Allison suggests that Matthew changes Mark 12:1 περιέθηκεν φραγμόν under influence of LXX Isa 5:2 καὶ φραγμὸν περιέθηκα, but this is from a time and approach with no real appreciation of discourse effects on word order.
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Re: Word Order in Matt 21:33

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 10th, 2016, 10:14 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:This may be a topic for another thread, but I've read some of this work, and I've not yet been able to understand the evidence that one order is "a divergence from" another order, or that there is a default order in Greek. Especially since verb-initial does not seem to be the most frequent, at least not consistently.
So what does "is a divergence from" mean? Somehow, this feels like it rhymes with deep structure ;->
Allison Kirk's dissertation -- discussed here on B-Greek http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... Kirk#p8851 -- goes into much detail establishing what a pragmatically neutral word order for Koine Greek looks like. IIRC, she concludes that it could be either VSO or SVO. The rest of the dissertation goes off into generative / cartographic territory, which I don't recommend for anyone without that particular theoretical background.
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Re: Word Order in Matt 21:33

Post by Tony Pope » February 11th, 2016, 5:48 am

Stephen Carlson wrote: Checking Davies and Allison's commentary in the ICC, Allison suggests that Matthew changes Mark 12:1 περιέθηκεν φραγμόν under influence of LXX Isa 5:2 καὶ φραγμὸν περιέθηκα, but this is from a time and approach with no real appreciation of discourse effects on word order.
But perhaps there is something in this. After all, this is not one of the places where LXX Isaiah gives a literal rendering of the Hebrew Vorlage.

That, of course, does not answer the word order question, but throws it back to the LXX. It's interesting that in Isa 5.5 we read νῦν δὲ ἀναγγελῶ ὑμῖν τί ποιήσω τῷ ἀμπελῶνί μου· ἀφελῶ τὸν φραγμὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔσται εἰς διαρπαγήν. So the purpose of fencing the vineyard in was to protect it from plundering. It does not seem unreasonable that the LXX translator had in mind the development of verse 5 when in verse 2 he made his substitution rather than follow the Hebrew.

My hunch is that verb and object are reversed to give prominence to both verb and object, not merely to one or the other of them. I am not sufficiently conversant with the literature to know if anyone else holds such a view, only that Levinsohn in §3.5 of his Discourse Features allows that sentence elements can be moved to the end for focus.
Stephen Carlson wrote: it would be nice if the fence figured in the plot more explicitly but it just seems mentioned and dropped.
In Isaiah 5 it's not dropped and Matthew, writing for a Jewish audience, could expect the scenario of Isaiah 5 to be recalled.

That fencing in is more salient than the other procedures undertaken by the vineyard owner, as Mike suggests, seems reasonable to me.
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Re: Word Order in Matt 21:33

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » February 11th, 2016, 7:43 am

I have no more proof for any suggestion than you do, but I have a suggestion.

φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν
ὤρυξεν ἐν αὐτῷ ληνὸν
ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον
ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς

should be equal, but the first has different word order. Maybe the first one just draws attention to the whole process, including the rest of the items, and the rest can be neutral because the process is already salient. But why should it be "emphasized" at all? Maybe to make clear how much work was done, how much the master cared about the vineyard.
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