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Re: Richard Rhodes on Definiteness

Posted: March 9th, 2020, 6:36 pm
by Barry Hofstetter
Stephen Carlson wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 6:00 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 4:20 pm
Stephen Carlson wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 12:01 am
Can anyone tell me how the mountain in Matt 5:1 is identifiable?
The article can be used of things that are generally known or implied from context.
True, but there is no good reason to think it was, given the existence of several mountains in Galilee. In fact, the identity of the mountain remains obscure to the present day.
To us. Perhaps not to the early audience, and representing it as known in the literary framework would work as well. If I tell you "I'm going to take the car" you might not know particularly what car (it's actually the Maserati -- ha, I wish! ), but you would know it's a particular car known to me and perhaps others in my immediate context.

Re: Richard Rhodes on Definiteness

Posted: March 9th, 2020, 7:29 pm
by RandallButh
Stephen Carlson wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 6:04 pm
RandallButh wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 5:20 am
τὸ ὄρος:

This would come from general background, encyclopedic knowledge.
This I think presumes quite a bit of specialized geographic knowledge around Capernaum on the part of the reader, all in a text that hardly localizes, if at all, the action in the immediate vicinity of Capernaum.
It may reflect special knowledge on the part of the writer.
And sometimes communication results in questions from the addressee.

Re: Richard Rhodes on Definiteness

Posted: March 9th, 2020, 8:05 pm
by Stephen Carlson
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 6:36 pm
To us. Perhaps not to the early audience, and representing it as known in the literary framework would work as well. If I tell you "I'm going to take the car" you might not know particularly what car (it's actually the Maserati -- ha, I wish! ), but you would know it's a particular car known to me and perhaps others in my immediate context.
The "take the car" is known in the linguistics literature as a "weak definite" and tends to show up in stereotyped phrases (e.g., "read the paper", "go to the beach"). It's a different phenomenon from that in Matt 5:1.

As to the early audience, see my response to Randall.

Re: Richard Rhodes on Definiteness

Posted: March 9th, 2020, 8:06 pm
by Stephen Carlson
RandallButh wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 7:29 pm
Stephen Carlson wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 6:04 pm
RandallButh wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 5:20 am
τὸ ὄρος:

This would come from general background, encyclopedic knowledge.
This I think presumes quite a bit of specialized geographic knowledge around Capernaum on the part of the reader, all in a text that hardly localizes, if at all, the action in the immediate vicinity of Capernaum.
It may reflect special knowledge on the part of the writer.
And sometimes communication results in questions from the addressee.
So, communication failure?

Re: Richard Rhodes on Definiteness

Posted: March 9th, 2020, 10:40 pm
by Tim Lewis
The final unidentified mountain might help here:

Οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μαθηταὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν εἰς τὸ ὄρος οὗ ἐτάξατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς (Matt 28:16)

This mountain is only identifiable to the characters within the story. It's as though the writer supposes that readers don't need to know which mountain even though it was significant/relevant to the eleven in the story.

Re: Richard Rhodes on Definiteness

Posted: March 10th, 2020, 7:44 am
by Barry Hofstetter
Stephen Carlson wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 6:01 pm
Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 5:20 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 4:20 pm


The article can be used of things that are generally known or implied from context.
Also, an author may choose to present τὸ ὄρος as known even if she has no reason to suspect the implied audience will be able to identify τὸ ὄρος from the active scenario.
That's much better, but there has be a reason for this choice or else anything goes with the article.
Alright, you've said "no not this, no, not that, and no, certainly not that." So what do you suggest?

Re: Richard Rhodes on Definiteness

Posted: March 10th, 2020, 7:00 pm
by Stephen Carlson
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
March 10th, 2020, 7:44 am
Alright, you've said "no not this, no, not that, and no, certainly not that." So what do you suggest?
Well, it's tough since I'm at the point where I'm most interested in the cases where the pat answers don't work. And "first-mention definites" present a prima facie problem for identifiability accounts unless the definite can be uniquely associated with something already in the context. The case at Matt 5:1 is particularly challenging in that Galilee has several mountains, and indeed even near Capernaum there are a number of candidates.

As to the semantics, I'm fairly happy with BDAG and Robertson, who interpret τὸ ὄρος as the "the mountain (nearby)" or "the mountain at hand," but this misses the pragmatics of the construction. Taking a note from Relevance Theory, I would suggest that identifiability is not something static but dynamic, in that the identifiability marked by the article is a signal for the hearer to adjust--with minimal effort--the context so that the described entity becomes unique. If the effort to accommodate such an apparently non-unique description is too great we may well have a communication failure.

Thus, in this case, τὸ ὄρος does not statically mean the identifiable mountain but it kicks off a procedure to make the mountain identifiable. I presume the basic process goes like this, "well, Galilee has a bunch of mountains, Jesus is in all likelihood near one of them, and that's the mountain he goes up." The difference with omitting the article (as in Matt 4:8) is that if the article is omitted, there is no direction to limit the context somewhere in Galilee and the mountain could be anywhere, and so it becomes a new setting of its own for the action rather than a focused part of the current setting.

That's how I'm currently making sense of the article in this case where identifiability is prima facie problematic.

Re: Richard Rhodes on Definiteness

Posted: March 11th, 2020, 2:24 am
by RandallButh
"well, Galilee has a bunch of mountains, Jesus is in all likelihood near one of them, and that's the mountain he goes up."
Yes, that is a fair description of what the article does to an audience's mind, though not consciously. However, if one has spent a lot of time walking along that NW lake shore they may end up on har ha-osher.

Re: Richard Rhodes on Definiteness

Posted: March 11th, 2020, 6:27 am
by Stephen Carlson
RandallButh wrote:
March 11th, 2020, 2:24 am
"well, Galilee has a bunch of mountains, Jesus is in all likelihood near one of them, and that's the mountain he goes up."
Yes, that is a fair description of what the article does to an audience's mind, though not consciously. However, if one has spent a lot of time walking along that NW lake shore they may end up on har ha-osher.
I don't doubt that!

Re: Richard Rhodes on Definiteness

Posted: March 12th, 2020, 9:55 am
by Barry Hofstetter
Stephen Carlson wrote:
March 10th, 2020, 7:00 pm
Well, it's tough since I'm at the point where I'm most interested in the cases where the pat answers don't work. And "first-mention definites" present a prima facie problem for identifiability accounts unless the definite can be uniquely associated with something already in the context. The case at Matt 5:1 is particularly challenging in that Galilee has several mountains, and indeed even near Capernaum there are a number of candidates.

As to the semantics, I'm fairly happy with BDAG and Robertson, who interpret τὸ ὄρος as the "the mountain (nearby)" or "the mountain at hand," but this misses the pragmatics of the construction. Taking a note from Relevance Theory, I would suggest that identifiability is not something static but dynamic, in that the identifiability marked by the article is a signal for the hearer to adjust--with minimal effort--the context so that the described entity becomes unique. If the effort to accommodate such an apparently non-unique description is too great we may well have a communication failure.

Thus, in this case, τὸ ὄρος does not statically mean the identifiable mountain but it kicks off a procedure to make the mountain identifiable. I presume the basic process goes like this, "well, Galilee has a bunch of mountains, Jesus is in all likelihood near one of them, and that's the mountain he goes up." The difference with omitting the article (as in Matt 4:8) is that if the article is omitted, there is no direction to limit the context somewhere in Galilee and the mountain could be anywhere, and so it becomes a new setting of its own for the action rather than a focused part of the current setting.

That's how I'm currently making sense of the article in this case where identifiability is prima facie problematic.
Thanks, that's quite helpful, and pretty much what I meant by the use of the article in the literary framework. But your answer is much more... definite (ooh, I now hate myself for that).