Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Re: Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Postby Stephen Carlson » July 19th, 2012, 9:16 am

Jason Hare wrote:I don't know what the theological implications of this are (I'm not part of that discussion), but it would seem that ἐὰν μή in the case means "but rather," something similar to ἀλλά.


Well, the theological implications are that the usual "except" meaning ἐὰν μή makes Gal 2:16 less usable as a proof text for sola fide. This is the unavoidable theological subtext in the exegesis of this verse.

Jason Hare wrote:Are you saying that he argued that it should be understood as εἰ μὴ διά + acc (as in Smyth §2346.c), except that we should understand it as "except through" (genitive) instead of "except for" (accusative)?


That Smyth section is pretty good at showing the meaning of "except" for ἐὰν μή / εἰ μή.

Jason Hare wrote:"A man is not justified from works of the law, except through faith in Jesus Christ."

That's interesting. I never would have thought of that. Again - for another thread. But interesting. Thanks for the suggestion to munch on.


Well, that's Jimmy Dunn's proposal (IIRC), right down to the objective genitive. I'm not endorsing it or arguing for it, but just letting you know that it's out there in the academic literature and argued in some detail. As for the scholar who construes the prepositional phrase adjectivally, I forgot who it was and I'd have to look it up. My mention here is also a non-endorsement of the reading--more of a hope that if I eventually track down the article, there may be examples evidencing the proposed syntactical construal.
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Re: Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Postby Stephen Carlson » July 19th, 2012, 9:25 am

cwconrad wrote:(1) As I've mentioned before (ad nauseam, I think), I personally believe that the Greek of Ephesians is weird.


Yes, and it would also to help to have less ambiguous examples of the construction too.

cwconrad wrote:(2) With regard to Gal 2:16, what I find most disturbing is the possibility or likelihood that theological preferences may trip the balance in how one understands the syntax of the Greek text. But I've grown more cynical about that in my dotage, and I sometimes wonder whether I may not myself be as tempted as any other to let my theological preferences outweigh my grammatical judgment.


That's one of my biggest eye-opening experiences from studying Paul at Duke. There are a lot of seemingly valid exegetical options in construing Paul's syntax but the theological stakes are so high that theological preferences are virtually unavoidable.

cwconrad wrote:(3) I remain troubled about Rom 1:16, where Paul's subsequent argumentation seems to indicate that he is interpreting ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται. such that ἐκ πίστεως functions adjectivally with ὁ δίκαιος. So it may be so that in this instance we do have a case of adjectival usage of a prepositional phrase. But I'm still troubled by it.


Hmm, I lean toward the adverbial reading here of ἐκ πίστεως, but that could just be the way that this verse is read at Duke.

cwconrad wrote:(4) Jason speaks of this is a common Hebrew pattern, and I'm wondering whether the instances in NT Koine that have been pointed to are generally explicable as Semitisms. I don't know, but I wonder whether or not this has ever been investigated. My guess is that it probably has.


It would be nice to have some good Hebrew / LXX examples.
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Re: Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Postby Jason Hare » July 20th, 2012, 7:55 am

cwconrad wrote:(3) I remain troubled about Rom 1:16, where Paul's subsequent argumentation seems to indicate that he is interpreting ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται. such that ἐκ πίστεως functions adjectivally with ὁ δίκαιος. So it may be so that in this instance we do have a case of adjectival usage of a prepositional phrase. But I'm still troubled by it.


I'm absolutely thrilled by the idea of reading this as ὁ ἐκ πίστεως δίκαιος. I never thought about reading it that way, to be honest, and it makes a lot more sense to me to look at it that way. I always took this as an adverbial, telling how or by what means he would live (as it is in the Hebrew original), rather than as an adjectival, telling us what kind of righteous person (one who is righteous from his faith vs. one who is righteous from his works). I'm thrilled to re-read Romans (the whole of it) with just this in mind. I'm glad that this was brought up.

cwconrad wrote:(4) Jason speaks of this is a common Hebrew pattern, and I'm wondering whether the instances in NT Koine that have been pointed to are generally explicable as Semitisms. I don't know, but I wonder whether or not this has ever been investigated. My guess is that it probably has.


To offer a correction, what I was referring to as a common Hebrew pattern is the construct chain, represented by τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας, rather than the use of a prepositional phrase adjectivally.

In Hebrew, it would be most natural to turn such a prepositional phrase into a relative clause (using אשר asher). This is why "our Father in heaven" (in the prayer) is represented in Hebrew as אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם avínu she-ba-shamáyim, in which she- (a short form of asher) is the relative particle (I would say "pronoun," but it's more than that in Hebrew).

This also has ramifications on the reading of the "by faith" statement above, since in the Hebrew that it's quoted from (that is, Habakkuk 2:4) doesn't have a relative clause attached to it. It reads וְצַדִּיק בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ יִחְיֶה tsadik be-emunato yichyeh. In fact, the presence of the personal pronoun ending on emunah indicates that the "righteous by faith" reading wouldn't even make sense here in the Hebrew text. It means, in Hebrew, "a righteous person will live by his faith/trust/faithfulness."
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Re: Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Postby David Lim » July 20th, 2012, 9:47 am

Jason Hare wrote:In Hebrew, it would be most natural to turn such a prepositional phrase into a relative clause (using אשר asher). This is why "our Father in heaven" (in the prayer) is represented in Hebrew as אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם avínu she-ba-shamáyim, in which she- (a short form of asher) is the relative particle (I would say "pronoun," but it's more than that in Hebrew).

This also has ramifications on the reading of the "by faith" statement above, since in the Hebrew that it's quoted from (that is, Habakkuk 2:4) doesn't have a relative clause attached to it. It reads וְצַדִּיק בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ יִחְיֶה tsadik be-emunato yichyeh. In fact, the presence of the personal pronoun ending on emunah indicates that the "righteous by faith" reading wouldn't even make sense here in the Hebrew text. It means, in Hebrew, "a righteous person will live by his faith/trust/faithfulness."


Jason, thanks for confirming the grammar of the Hebrew of Hab 2:4, as I had previously observed this but could not confirm it. Anyway, I am totally unconvinced that in Greek an anarthrous attributive can modify a definite noun phrase, and I also see no problem in taking Rom 1:16 adverbially (because it is a recurring theme of the Hebrew writings), but I think I will probably have nothing more to add. If anyone has any unambiguous example in the NT, I think it would really help a lot!
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Re: Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Postby Ken M. Penner » July 20th, 2012, 9:58 am

Jason Hare wrote:This also has ramifications on the reading of the "by faith" statement above, since in the Hebrew that it's quoted from (that is, Habakkuk 2:4) doesn't have a relative clause attached to it. It reads וְצַדִּיק בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ יִחְיֶה tsadik be-emunato yichyeh. In fact, the presence of the personal pronoun ending on emunah indicates that the "righteous by faith" reading wouldn't even make sense here in the Hebrew text. It means, in Hebrew, "a righteous person will live by his faith/trust/faithfulness."

Remember that the Greek of Hab 2.4 has (like Hebrews 10:38) ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεώς μου ζήσεται, reading a yod where the MT now has a waw.
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Re: Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Postby ed krentz » July 20th, 2012, 10:12 am

Eduard Norden, the great classicist at Berlin University, called Eph 1:3-14 "the most monstrous conglomerate sentence in ancient Greek." He was a specialist in ancient Greek stylistics and rhetoric. His major works in this area were AGNOSTOS THEOS and DIE ANTIKE KUNSTPROSA. (This occasioned by Carl Conrad's comment on the sentence.)

Students I have taught Ephesians were regularly unable to identify the major statement of this sentence, thinking it was all about Jesus. It really is about blessing God for what God did. Try to outline this sentence--or the next one which completes chapter 1. You will need a very large sheet of paper.

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Re: Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Postby Jason Hare » July 20th, 2012, 10:12 am

Ken M. Penner wrote:
Jason Hare wrote:This also has ramifications on the reading of the "by faith" statement above, since in the Hebrew that it's quoted from (that is, Habakkuk 2:4) doesn't have a relative clause attached to it. It reads וְצַדִּיק בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ יִחְיֶה tsadik be-emunato yichyeh. In fact, the presence of the personal pronoun ending on emunah indicates that the "righteous by faith" reading wouldn't even make sense here in the Hebrew text. It means, in Hebrew, "a righteous person will live by his faith/trust/faithfulness."

Remember that the Greek of Hab 2.4 has (like Hebrews 10:38) ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεώς μου ζήσεται, reading a yod where the MT now has a waw.


Interesting!!!

So, would בֶּאֱמוּנָתִי refer to the faithfulness of God in this context?
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Re: Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Postby ed krentz » July 20th, 2012, 10:18 am

I wonder whether Rom 1:17 might not be an example of syntaxis apo koinou, that is ek pisteos should be constrrued both with ho dikaios and with zesetai.

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Re: Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Postby cwconrad » July 20th, 2012, 12:11 pm

ed krentz wrote:Eduard Norden, the great classicist at Berlin University, called Eph 1:3-14 "the most monstrous conglomerate sentence in ancient Greek." He was a specialist in ancient Greek stylistics and rhetoric. His major works in this area were AGNOSTOS THEOS and DIE ANTIKE KUNSTPROSA. (This occasioned by Carl Conrad's comment on the sentence.)

Students I have taught Ephesians were regularly unable to identify the major statement of this sentence, thinking it was all about Jesus. It really is about blessing God for what God did. Try to outline this sentence--or the next one which completes chapter 1. You will need a very large sheet of paper.

Ed Krentz


Eduard Norden may well be right, but I guess I haven't read enough of what's left of ancient Greek to affirm that it really is "the most monstrous." I have tried -- several times -- to diagram that sequence -- and I have never been sufficiently confident that I could identify with certainty exactly which clauses were dependent upon which others. It was this problem precisely that drove me to the conclusion that, if this author knows what he means, he doesn't seem to know how to make his meaning clear.
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Re: Adjectival Use of Prepositional Phrases

Postby Jason Hare » November 14th, 2012, 4:26 am

To bring this back up, a friend sent me a few verses that might be set here for your consideration:

1 Peter 1:3
Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ κατὰ τὸ πολὺ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἀναγεννήσας ἡμᾶς εἰς ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν δι᾽ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκ νεκρῶν,

Should we not consider ἐκ νεκρῶν here to be specifically modifying ἀνάστασις? Is this justified only by the fact that ἀνάστασις is seen as an action (and is, by extension, a way of referring to a verb)? Or, is it a prepositional phrase functioning as an adjective?

Colossians 1:18
καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας· ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων,

Is this also because of the verbal notion of birth?

Philippians 1:5
ἐπὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἡμέρας ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν

Same question but with three prepositional phrases apparently modifying κοινωνία.

Romans 11:15
εἰ γὰρ ἡ ἀποβολὴ αὐτῶν καταλλαγὴ κόσμου, τίς ἡ πρόσλημψις εἰ μὴ ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν;

Is ἐκ νεκρῶν not modifying ζωή?

What should we make of verses like Luke 11:50-51, where prepositional phrases are used to further elucidate the subject of a verb?

Luke 11:50-51
ἵνα ἐκζητηθῇ τὸ αἷμα πάντων τῶν προφητῶν τὸ ἐκκεχυμένον ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου ἀπὸ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης, ἀπὸ αἵματος Ἅβελ ἕως αἵματος Ζαχαρίου τοῦ ἀπολομένου μεταξὺ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου καὶ τοῦ οἴκου· ναὶ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐκζητηθήσεται ἀπὸ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης.

Thanks for any clarification that may come of this. I was hoping to find some examples of prepositional phrases functioning as modifiers of noun phrases without the use of an article.
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