James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

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Re: James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 4th, 2013, 4:23 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:The problem, Jonathan, is that the position of an enclitic possessive pronoun within a noun phrase is dictated by prosodic principles--as I understand it (there is some controversy on B-Greek about it). It can be either τὴν πίστιν μου or μου τὴν πίστιν depending on the prosodic prominence of the preceding constituent.


Can you remind me of the sides in this controversy?

If I understand correctly, Iver Larsen's position is that any time a constituent is moved left, regardless of its phonological status, it has more prominence.
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Re: James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 4th, 2013, 5:10 pm

Wes Wood wrote:I am with Jonathan. Would you please elaborate on the data that supports the possible interpretations? It would help me understand the language better. Thanks!

Well, it's based on a lot of observations of the placement of such pronouns in various contexts, but theories for them that work not only in Greek but all across many language. Perhaps I can illustrate with an example of two parallel text told slightly different ways. In Matthew, the act of lopping off the ear is more important than the ear itself (we're not even told which one, despite the definite article), while in Luke the ear is more important and is indeed mentioned in the narrative later. This difference is reflected in the placement of the pronoun (note that Luke's placement is the default so it may not mean as much).
Matt 26:51 wrote:Καὶ ἰδοὺ εἷς τῶν μετὰ Ἰησοῦ ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἀπέσπασεν τὴν μάχαιραν αὐτοῦ καὶ πατάξας τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως ἀφεῖλεν αὐτοῦ τὸ ὠτίον.
And look one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and unsheathed his sword. And he struck the high priest’s slave and took off his ear.

Luke 22:50-51 wrote:καὶ ἐπάταξεν εἷς τις ἐξ αὐτῶν τοῦ ἀρχιερέως τὸν δοῦλον καὶ ἀφεῖλεν τὸ οὖς αὐτοῦ τὸ δεξίον. ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· ἐᾶτε ἕως τούτου. καὶ ἁψάμενος τοῦ ὠτίου ἰάσατε αὐτόν.
⁵⁰ And a certain one of them struck the high priest’s slave and took off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “Enough of this!” And he touched the ear and healed him.
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Re: James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

Postby Wes Wood » October 4th, 2013, 8:02 pm

Are there any general rules for determining which phrase the pronoun most likely belongs to? I've looked in BDF, Wallace, Black, and Robertson, and they do not treat this verse specifically. I also checked to see if they mentioned any guidelines for making a decision in these types of instances in their treatments of pronouns and phrases. I did not see any, but I know I easily could have missed them.
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Re: James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 5th, 2013, 10:58 am

D Ryan Lowe wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:One more note: there's a part of me that would really like to see the phrase τὴν πίστιν σου matched by the phrase τὴν πίστιν μου. My guess is that this is the motivation for the other reading. But if that kind of strong parallelism were intended, I would expect the phrase τὴν πίστιν μου to occur explicitly.


I just noticed that the Majority text does have τὴν πίστιν μου, as well as some other early texts, like P74. That best explains the KJV readings

Alexandrinus (A) and P74, along with the Byzantine text, read μου after τὴν πίστιν in addition to the μου after ἐκ τῶν ἔργων. This has the effect of making the relational/possessive sense of the definite article explicit, and it looks like a harmonization to the contrasting τὴν πίστιν σου earlier in the verse. The Byzantine text also reads σου after χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων, so every member of the double-contrast is explicitly marked with a possessive pronoun.

When people say that the Byzantine text is a smooth text, this is the kind of stuff that people have in mind. I would say that the Byzantine presents the same sense of the text here as the Alexandrian, properly interpreted, only that this meaning is more evident and unmistakable to the reader.

These textual variants are evidence that the scribes apparently analyzed the text as ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου / τὴν πίστιν, and it is always nice to have some native intuitions on the matter.

D Ryan Lowe wrote:According to Runge's Lexham Discourse New Testament, it is τὴν πίστιν that is a main clause emphasis, not an emphasis on the works. The reason is probably because the ordering violates Levinsohn's Default Ordering Principle 2, that core constituents (subject, objects, and other constituents not preceded by a preposition) precede peripheral constituents (prepositional phrases and adverbial phrases of time and location).

I don't have that product of Steve's, so I can't consult it. If I had to guess, I think Steve is going by the principle of natural information flow (PNIF), not Levinsohn's ordering principle (though they are often congruent). Levinsohn's default ordering principles are more descriptive than normative, and I'm not sure as far as his current thinking goes that he still holds to them exactly as formulated. (Further, in this case, it's not clear which constituent is the marked one when this principle is violated.)

If there isn't any phonological prominence on ἐκ τῶν ἔργων then there's no reason to see the μου as belong to the following noun phrase and pulled forward for prosodic reason. In other words, the μου should belong to ἐκ τῶν ἔργων.
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Re: James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 5th, 2013, 11:05 am

Wes Wood wrote:Are there any general rules for determining which phrase the pronoun most likely belongs to? I've looked in BDF, Wallace, Black, and Robertson, and they do not treat this verse specifically. I also checked to see if they mentioned any guidelines for making a decision in these types of instances in their treatments of pronouns and phrases. I did not see any, but I know I easily could have missed them.

If the placement of enclitics is largely (but not entirely) driven by phonological concerns, then the traditional grammars aren't going to account for this well, if at all. Often, the best we can do is recognize when and how a text can be ambiguous and try our best to resolve it by careful attention to the context and the writer's communicative purpose. Generally, for possessive enclitics in noun phrases, they are so rarely placed ahead of their nouns that it is best to presume that they follow their head nouns unless there is a strong argument to the contrary.
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Re: James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

Postby D Ryan Lowe » October 5th, 2013, 11:39 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:I don't have that product of Steve's, so I can't consult it. If I had to guess, I think Steve is going by the principle of natural information flow (PNIF), not Levinsohn's ordering principle (though they are often congruent). Levinsohn's default ordering principles are more descriptive than normative, and I'm not sure as far as his current thinking goes that he still holds to them exactly as formulated. (Further, in this case, it's not clear which constituent is the marked one when this principle is violated.)


What's a good definition/resource for the principle of natural information flow?

I think it is clear which constituent is marked for focus. Here's how I analyze it based on Levinsohn:

Here's how it is in James 2:18
κἀγώ / σοι / δείξω / ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου / τὴν πίστιν

The default word order from Default Ordering Principles #1 and #2 would be
Verb - Pronominal Constituents - Nominal Constituents - Core Constituents - Peripheral Constituents, or:
δείξω / σοι / (εγώ) / τὴν πίστιν / ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου

Runge, in his Lexham Discourse New Testament, marks κἀγώ as a Topical Frame, and σοι as a Spacial Frame to explain the fronting. Levinsohn calls this "Point of Departure" and shows this by underlining. Let's assume Runge's analysis is right. We now have:
κἀγώ / σοι / δείξω / τὴν πίστιν / ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου

Marked Ordering Principle 5 says "To mark as focused a constituent whose default position is not the end of a clause or sentence, place it at the end of the clause or sentence." So if τὴν πίστιν is marked for focus, we have what we have in James 2:18.
κἀγώ / σοι / δείξω / ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου / τὴν πίστιν

If ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου were to be marked for focus instead, it would have followed Marked Ordering Principle 6, where the focal constituent is moved "prior to the verb (following the point of departure, if present)." That would look like this:
κἀγώ / σοι / ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου / δείξω / τὴν πίστιν

Does that sound right?
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Re: James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

Postby Wes Wood » October 5th, 2013, 12:05 pm

Thanks again, Stephen.
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Re: James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

Postby Michael Abernathy » October 5th, 2013, 6:09 pm

Ἀλλʼ ἐρεῖ τις, Σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις, κἀγὼ ἔργα ἔχω• δεῖξόν μοι τὴν πίστιν σου χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων, κἀγώ σοι δείξω ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου τὴν πίστιν.
I may be all wet but here is my take on this passage. I believe the possessive pronoun usually follows the noun it modifies and James seems to follow that pattern. So I would connect μου with ἔργων. I think context makes it clear that faith is the speaker’s faith. If I were writing this out, I would probably do something like this:
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Sincerely,
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Re: James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

Postby RandallButh » October 6th, 2013, 2:11 am

Ryan,
your reading is pretty good, but there are a couple of minor points for refinement. This may relate more to refining the "rules" that you were following, rather than your analysis.
Ἀλλʼ ἐρεῖ τις, Σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις, κἀγὼ ἔργα ἔχω•
δεῖξόν μοι τὴν πίστιν σου χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων,
κἀγώ σοι δείξω ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου τὴν πίστιν.

Runge's "special frame" would cover σοι though one should add that it is an enclitic and tied to a head word. Since the head word is a "frame of reference" 'you' picks up on that frame of reference, too. Which gets to the same functional reading, as long as one does not think that 'special' equals 'focus'.

On the otherhand, one should distinguish 'faith' coming at the end, as in 2:18, and 'faith' coming before the verb, in a theoretical
κἀγώ σοι τὴν πίστιν δείξω ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου.

This theoretical example would have a 'marked Focus' , while I read the text in 2:18 not as Focus but natural saliency, a kind of unmarked Focus/saliency. This natural saliency was achied by moving the 'by my works' closer to the verb, leaving the object behind to receive its full saliency. Practically speaking the understanding will be quite similar, but this explains a little more tightly how the nuts and bolts are actually working and removes the ambiguity of 'faith' being Focus whether before the verb or at the end of the clause.

The only place where the difference would be noted is at a "Tuesday night reading in a coffee shop poetry seminar."
The two lines are placed below, with 'large type' used for Focal intonation:

κἀγώ σοι τὴν πίστιν δείξω ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου.
κἀγώ σοι δείξω ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου τὴν πίστιν.

The first sentence receives a special intonation, while the second sentence has default intonation throughout the sentence. The author works back to the starting point as a kind of full-circle understatement. The author lets his logic speak for itself without any rhetorical 'loudness'.

As mentioned, a Focus on 'my works' would have resulted in
κἀγώ / σοι / ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου / δείξω / τὴν πίστιν.

That would have made an appropriate use of Focus since the 'works' or lack thereof is the actual contrast. However, the author chose not to put a syntactial Focus on 'by my works' but instead moved 'by my works' out of the way and out of the way from receiving the natural/default saliency. Since his opponent claimed 'faith', James ended on 'faith', and claimed it, too.
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Re: James 2:18: my works, my faith, or both?

Postby D Ryan Lowe » October 6th, 2013, 2:43 am

Hi Randall,

Thank you for the helpful feedback. I found your distinction of marked focus and unmarked focus/natural saliency interesting.

I just discovered today that Levinsohn (2000: 35, 37) analyzes this verse, and also describes τὴν πίστιν as brought into focus, although he doesn't put them in bold like he does for pre-verbal focal constituents. Maybe he also draws a distinction, like you do? Interestingly, Levinsohn analyzes σοι as a focal constituent as well, and not as a point of departure (frame of reference). In any case, I'm still processing, formulating, and refining my views on the "rules."
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