Unusual word order? Josh 21:34

Unusual word order? Josh 21:34

Postby RDecker » July 14th, 2011, 7:47 am

Here is a statement that I think uses unusual word order.

Josh 21:34, κύριος ὁ θεὸς αὐτῶν ἐστιν.

This is typically translated "The Lord is their God" (e.g., NETS), but the grammar marks θεός as the subject (i.e., with the article). If that is the case, then it ought to be, I think, "Their God is Lord." The only alternates I see are to take κύριος ὁ θεὸς as a single phrase, but that would be "The Lord God is theirs"--awkward-- or, "He/it is the Lord their God"--but taking the subject from the verb gives no antecedent that makes sense in the context (God has not been mentioned and the only nouns are βωμόν and μαρτύριόν--and no Jew would say the memorial altar was god.)

predicate nominative/complement > subject > linking verb is, so far as I can tell, a rarely attested word order. I can find no examples of this pattern in the NT and only one other in LXX: Isa 30:18, κριτὴς κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν ἐστιν, "The Lord our God is judge."

Or is there some other explanation for this statement? Or is this pattern more common than I've been able to document?
Rodney J. Decker
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Re: Unusual word order? Josh 21:34

Postby cwconrad » July 14th, 2011, 8:40 am

RDecker wrote:Here is a statement that I think uses unusual word order.

Josh 21:34, κύριος ὁ θεὸς αὐτῶν ἐστιν.

This is typically translated "The Lord is their God" (e.g., NETS), but the grammar marks θεός as the subject (i.e., with the article). If that is the case, then it ought to be, I think, "Their God is Lord." The only alternates I see are to take κύριος ὁ θεὸς as a single phrase, but that would be "The Lord God is theirs"--awkward-- or, "He/it is the Lord their God"--but taking the subject from the verb gives no antecedent that makes sense in the context (God has not been mentioned and the only nouns are βωμόν and μαρτύριόν--and no Jew would say the memorial altar was god.)

predicate nominative/complement > subject > linking verb is, so far as I can tell, a rarely attested word order. I can find no examples of this pattern in the NT and only one other in LXX: Isa 30:18, κριτὴς κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν ἐστιν, "The Lord our God is judge."

Or is there some other explanation for this statement? Or is this pattern more common than I've been able to document?


I'm not sure that Al Pietersma has ever really come aboard in our new Forum; this is really a question for him to answer. I'm making a guess that is based on what he has argued: that the LXX text is best understood as a sort of "interlinear" Greek version of the Hebrew text such as might be produced in an Alexandrian schoolroom. We see that the Greek of the LXX about which you are asking is κύριος ὁ θεὸς αὐτῶν ἐστιν, which evidently corresponds to the Hebrew, at least in the MT, יְהוָ֖ה הָאֱלֹהִֽים It would seem that κύριος here represents a proper name rather than a predicate adjective. It may be the case that the Greek word order here reflects the sequence of the Hebrew text rather than standard Greek usage.
Carl W. Conrad
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Re: Unusual word order? Josh 21:34

Postby RDecker » July 14th, 2011, 9:50 am

I just realized the signif of part of your comment Carl. If κυριος is treated as a proper name (= YHWH), then it becomes the subject, though with the pred nom being articular (ὁ θεος) the statement is "convertible." In which case it reads "The Lord is their God"--very normal order.
Rodney J. Decker
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Baptist Bible Seminary
Clarks Summit, PA
(See profile for my NTResources blog address.)
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Re: Unusual word order? Josh 21:34

Postby Jason Hare » January 24th, 2013, 7:06 pm

RDecker wrote:I just realized the signif of part of your comment Carl. If κυριος is treated as a proper name (= YHWH), then it becomes the subject, though with the pred nom being articular (ὁ θεος) the statement is "convertible." In which case it reads "The Lord is their God"--very normal order.


Yep. :)
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Re: Unusual word order? Josh 21:34

Postby Jason Hare » January 25th, 2013, 6:52 am

Looking this up, though, it's actually chapter 22, not chapter 21.
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