Articular Abstract Nouns

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics
Rob Campanaro
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Articular Abstract Nouns

Post by Rob Campanaro » February 21st, 2015, 11:19 am

In Dan Wallace's renowned work Greek Grammar Beyond The Basics, Wallace attaches definite grammatical significance to articular abstract nouns, stating, "Usually, the article with the abstract noun fits under the par excellence or well-known categories..." [p. 226] Yet on p. 249 when dealing with anarthrous abstract nouns, he quotes from A.T. Robertson's grammar where Robertson states "no vital difference was felt between articular and anarthrous abstract nouns", and leaves it at that. Can anyone elucidate here? Is the article with abstract nouns grammatically significant or is it not?

Thanks for your time.

Robert Campanaro
Coatesville, PA
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Robert Campanaro
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Wes Wood
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Re: Articular Abstract Nouns

Post by Wes Wood » February 21st, 2015, 10:39 pm

Smyth wrote:1126. The article is often omitted (1) in words and phrases which have survived from the period when ὁ, ἡ, τό was a demonstrative pronoun; (2) when a word is sufficiently definite by itself; (3) when a word expresses a general conception without regard to its application to a definite person. The generic article is frequently omitted, especially with abstracts (1132), without appreciable difference in meaning. Its presence or absence is often determined by the need of distinguishing subject from predicate (1150), by the rhythm of the sentence, etc.
1131. Abstract substantives generally have the article: ““ἡ ἀρετὴ μᾶλλον ἢ ἡ φυγὴ σῴζει τὰ_ς ψυ_χά_ς” valour rather than flight saves men's lives” X. C. 4.1.5.
1132. The names of the virtues, vices, arts, sciences, occupations often omit the article: τί σωφροσύνη, τί μανία_; what is temperance, what is madness? X. M. 1.1.16, ἀρχὴ φιλία_ς μὲν ἔπαινος, ἔχθρα_ς δὲ ψόγος praise is the beginning of friendship, blame of enmity I. 1.33. Similarly μουσική music, γεωργία_ agriculture. So also with δόξα opinion, νοῦς mind, τέχνη art, νόμος law.
1133. The article must be used when reference is made to a definite person or thing or to an object well known: ““ἡ τῶν Ἑλλήνων εὔνοια” the goodwill of the Greeks” Aes. 3.70, (ὑ_μῖν) ““ἡ σχολή” your usual idleness” D. 8.53.
1134. The article may be omitted in designations of space; as βάθος depth, ὕψος height; also μέγεθος size, πλῆθος size, amount. γένος and ὄνομα, used as accusatives of respect (1600), may omit the article.
1135. The article may be omitted with some concrete words conveying a general idea, as ψυχή soul, σῶμα body (but the parts of the body regularly have the article).
BDF §258 wrote:The more abstract the sense in which the noun is used, the less likely it is to take any other than the generic article; hence in some instances the problem is rather to account for the presence of the article than its absence.
My general process for dealing with these is to recognize that both arthrous and anarthrous abstract nouns may be unmarked but that an arthrous abstract noun is more likely to be significant. If I can see an obvious reason in the context why an arthrous abstract noun may be marked, I will generally treat it as such.
Also, an awareness of the author's usage of the article with specific words will help you. If you are reading I Thessalonians, for example, you might find that Paul will usually use the article with πίστεως, but in I Thessalonians 5:8 he does not. It may be in a given epistle that the article may be used so frequently that it is the anarthrous usage that should get your attention. In this case what is the meaning of πίστεως? Have you heard it explained more frequently (in sermons perhaps) as a noun or an adjective? Regardless of how you answer those questions, I hope this has been helpful.

Edited Once for an out of place item that significantly altered my intended thought.
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MAubrey
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Re: Articular Abstract Nouns

Post by MAubrey » February 22nd, 2015, 7:58 am

Rob Campanaro wrote:In Dan Wallace's renowned work Greek Grammar Beyond The Basics, Wallace attaches definite grammatical significance to articular abstract nouns, stating, "Usually, the article with the abstract noun fits under the par excellence or well-known categories..." [p. 226] Yet on p. 249 when dealing with anarthrous abstract nouns, he quotes from A.T. Robertson's grammar where Robertson states "no vital difference was felt between articular and anarthrous abstract nouns", and leaves it at that. Can anyone elucidate here? Is the article with abstract nouns grammatically significant or is it not?
Hi Robert. I'm not sure that stating that a particular grammatical construction fits in a particular grammatical category (in this case articular abstract Ns as par excellence or well known) necessarily can be equated with attaching 'definite grammatical significance.' I would suggest assuming Wallace intends the much more reasonable claim: 'this construction X fits in usage category Y'. No grammatical significance one way or another need.
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Rob Campanaro
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Re: Articular Abstract Nouns

Post by Rob Campanaro » February 22nd, 2015, 6:53 pm

Wes, thank you for the reply, it was indeed helpful. I'm just curious as to what formed the basis for the statements about the articular abstracts if they don't appear to have much if any support from the rest of the scholarly community.

Michael, thank you as well for your input. Perhaps the phrase 'definite grammatical significance' wasn't the one I was grasping for. But in the final analysis, if the mere presence of the article doesn't raise the quality expressed in the noun to the superlative degree, then the significance of the article when it precedes abstract noun seems overstated at best; unless I'm still missing something.

Robert Campanaro
Coatesville, PA
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Robert Campanaro
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Articular Abstract Nouns

Post by Stephen Hughes » February 22nd, 2015, 7:50 pm

I find this discussion a bit vague. The idea of abstractness is a little subhective at times and there are cases where the syntax requires the article, rather than the noun itself - I realise there are a lot of instances of the article, but it might be worth loking through a few hundred of them, noticing the patterns.

Let me discuss something about what we mean by "abstract"... Look through the LSJ entry for δύναμις. Some of the meanings tend to be more abstract and some more concrete. With the word περιτομή, it is not easy to say of it is abstract or concrete in the phrase οἱ ἐκ περιτομῆς - it seems to be used of a tangible group. ἐκκλησία is interpreted with varying degrees of abstractness - and those interpretations are given quite a degree of significance in some cases - but the designation seems to be quite subjective, from my point of view (also subjective). Further, is πρεσβεία the envoy (concrete) or the embassy (the attempt at negotiation)? Trying to fit them into either of two categories is probably a bit too simplified of a categorisation - as binary categorisations often are.

If one were to take whatever general rules of thumb we might come up with here and apply them to verses where words that are not clear - as to there abstractness - and then conclude that on the basis of the article they were either concrete or abstract, there would be no certainty that those conclusions would be correct or not.
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Rob Campanaro
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Re: Articular Abstract Nouns

Post by Rob Campanaro » February 24th, 2015, 10:47 am

Stephen, the type of nouns Wallace deals with and the ones I'm primarily asking about are those whose abstractness are not in question. The following is a representative list:

ἀνομία, σωτηρία, σοφίᾳ, ἀγάπη, πονηρόν, ἀγαθός, προσευχή, χάρις, ἀλήθεια, ἀδικία, ἐλευθερία, πίστις, κόπος.

The majority of these cannot be concretized. What prompted the question were statements like:

"...in exposition, the force of the article should be brought out. Usually, the article with an abstract noun fits under the par excellence and well-known categories but in even a more technical way."

"The article par excellence, therefore, has a superlative idea."

If the first statement is accurate, then the synergy of the two would profoundly influence exegesis in quite a number of N.T. texts. But as yet it doesn't seem to be garnishing much support.

Robert Campanaro
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Articular Abstract Nouns

Post by Stephen Hughes » February 24th, 2015, 11:26 pm

Rob Campanaro wrote:"...in exposition, the force of the article should be brought out. Usually, the article with an abstract noun fits under the par excellence and well-known categories but in even a more technical way."

"The article par excellence, therefore, has a superlative idea."
Let me try to understand what you are getting at.

I'll take your last word there κόπος as an example. First I'll exclude the verses with the idiom παρέχειν κόπον (+dative of the person troubled) (Matthew 26:10, Mark 14:6, Luke 11:7, Luke 18:5, Galatians 6:17), then exclude the ones where the definite article is used with a possessive pronoun on the assumption that it was put there for syntactic reasons to balance the pronoun (John 4:38, 1 Corinthians 15:58, 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, Revelations 2:2, Revelation 14:3), and also exclude the verse which is constructed with the adjective ἴδιος (1 Corinthians 3:8), and finally exclude the 1 or 2 instances where the article on the second noun forces the first one to have one too (τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης) (1 Thessalonians 1:3, Hebrews 6:10 (Byz)). That leaves 5 verses, none of which use the definite article with κόπος.
2 Corinthians 6:5 wrote:ἐν πληγαῖς, ἐν φυλακαῖς, ἐν ἀκαταστασίαις, ἐν κόποις, ἐν ἀγρυπνίαις, ἐν νηστείαις,
2 Corinthians 10:15 wrote:οὐκ εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα καυχώμενοι, ἐν ἀλλοτρίοις κόποις, ἐλπίδα δὲ ἔχοντες, αὐξανομένης τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν, ἐν ὑμῖν μεγαλυνθῆναι κατὰ τὸν κανόνα ἡμῶν εἰς περισσείαν,
2 Corinthians 11:23 wrote:Διάκονοι χριστοῦ εἰσιν; — Παραφρονῶν λαλῶ — ὑπὲρ ἐγώ· ἐν κόποις περισσοτέρως, ἐν πληγαῖς ὑπερβαλλόντως, ἐν φυλακαῖς περισσοτέρως, ἐν θανάτοις πολλάκις,
2 Corinthians 11:27 wrote:ἐν κόπῳ καὶ μόχθῳ, ἐν ἀγρυπνίαις πολλάκις, ἐν λιμῷ καὶ δίψει, ἐν νηστείαις πολλάκις, ἐν ψύχει καὶ γυμνότητι.
2 Thessalonians 3:8 wrote:οὐδὲ δωρεὰν ἄρτον ἐφάγομεν παρά τινος, ἀλλ’ ἐν κόπῳ καὶ μόχθῳ, νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν ἐργαζόμενοι, πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαί τινα ὑμῶν·
They appear to be basically occurring in lists of bad things. As none of them have the definite article, I'm not really able to follow what you are asking.

I'm afraid you are going to have to walk me through and explain a bit more. In fact, the phrases "well-known categories", "article par excellence", and "superlative idea" sound mildly pompous or perhaps other-mindly.
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Rob Campanaro
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Re: Articular Abstract Nouns

Post by Rob Campanaro » February 26th, 2015, 7:33 pm

First, just so we're clear, I'm not advocating a particular view, but simply asking a question about statements in Wallace's grammar as they relate to anarthrous abstract nouns. With that in mind, the word κοπος is a perfect example of what I'm asking about. In all the examples you gave where the nouns are anarthrous, there doesn't seem to be any well-known or superlative ideas being expressed, whereas the articular nouns in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 would seem to have one of those meanings. Notice in 2 Corinthians 6:5, the κοπος (trouble) Paul experienced is neither well-know for anything in particular, nor does there seem to be a superlative idea being expressed. It was trouble in a purely generic sense and therefore anarthrous. The same thing is seen in 2 Corinthians 10:15. The κοπος (labor) in which Paul refrains from boasting isn't well-known for anything and there's doesn't seem to be any superlativeness connected to it. In 2 Corinthians 11:23, the comparative 'περισσοτέρως' might further relay the generic quality of the anarthrous κοπος. We can make similar observations with 2 Corinthians 11:27 and 2 Thessalonians 3:8. Now compare these with 1 Thessalonians 1:3 where there are three abstract nouns each preceded by the article. Wallace would argue that since they cannot be anaphoric, their repetition with the last two nouns are meant to express either a well-known or par excellence (superlative) idea. The well-known category would seem to fit the context well since v. 8 says that the reports of the Thessalonians faith were 'sounding forth' in every place.

In my layman's opinion, Wallace seems to make a fairly good case for anarthrous abstract nouns, which is why I was a bit surprized that he's not joined by Robertson et al, and so I was curious as to what others in the group might think.

Does that make things a little more clear?

Robert Campanaro
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Articular Abstract Nouns

Post by Stephen Hughes » February 27th, 2015, 4:03 am

Rob Campanaro wrote:Does that make things a little more clear?
I guess that "well-known" means to the intended audience, but just fill me in what the "a superlative idea" is, in case I'd forgotten or never knew that.

It seems that in a general sense you are saying that Wallace' idea is worth considering.
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Rob Campanaro
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Re: Articular Abstract Nouns

Post by Rob Campanaro » February 27th, 2015, 8:15 pm

A superlative is basically an adjective or adverb that is the best in its class. Of course we're talking about nouns, but since abstracts focus on qualities, when the article falls under the par excellence category, they're able to carry a "superlative idea." Wallace states it this way:

"...the article par excellence points out the extreme of a certain category, thus, the one deserving the name more than any other. The article par excellence, therefore, has a superlative idea. For example, “the sun” is monadic because there is only one sun. It is not the best of many suns, but is the only one. In reality, it is in a class by itself. But “the Lord” is par excellence because there are many lords.”
Stephen Hughes wrote:It seems that in a general sense you are saying that Wallace' idea is worth considering.
Whether or not Wallace’s idea is worth considering is really what I’m trying to determine. The examples he gives to make his case seem arguably valid, despite some obvious instances in the N.T. where it’s difficult to see how the rule would apply (e.g. 1 Cor. 8:1). It just struck my as somewhat odd that no one else seems to credit it with any validity at all.

Just an FYI, what initiated this query in the first place was that I was discussing a particular non-disclosed doctrinal issue with someone online and I appealed to the force of the article when it precedes an abstract noun according to Wallace. Afterward, it occurred to me that I should probably not rely on one grammarians opinion, and after checking Robertson’s grammar, I had to make a retraction. :oops:

Thanks very much for your feedback.
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Robert Campanaro
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