Use of definite article with infinitive

Use of definite article with infinitive

Postby getrotteriii » January 29th, 2013, 3:10 am

I'm a relative newbie to Greek; I know enough to recognize words and, sometimes tenses and case endings. My question is regarding Philippians 2:6: Is the structure
to einai isa thew
at all comparable to what's done frequently in, say, Spanish which uses the definite article with an infinitive; this, in turn, being translated as a present participle; to wit, "the being equal with God"? Though I use the NASB and ESV, it seems to me the KJV's more economical and direct translation (which is supported by Dr. Alfred Marshall's literal translation in my Greek-English interlinear and John Calvin's translation in his commentary on the passage) is stronger.
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Re: Use of definite article with infinitive

Postby Jason Hare » January 31st, 2013, 2:46 pm

Hi, George.

It's a courtesy on B-Greek that we post the Greek for the verse in question, so I'll provide that here:

ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ.

Of course, the phrase in question is the last one: τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ. It's common for the neuter article to attach to an infinitive. It functions like a gerund in English, allowing the verb to behave like a noun (that is, serve as the subject of a verb, object of a verb, object of a preposition, etc.).

In this case, the verb ἡγήσατο takes two objects in the accusative, the one being held or regarded as something else. For example, you might say ἡγήσατο αὐτὸν βασιλέα, meaning that "he held him to be king."

"He did not consider (οὐχ... ἡγήσατο) being equal to God (τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ) robbery (ἁρπαγμόν)."

Some moralist might say: "I don't consider all lying a sin." A proud mother might say: "I consider my son a genius."

The question is what he ("Jesus Christ" from the previous verse) thought of being equal with God. Some people might think that equality with God is something to be grasped and sought after, but the text is saying that Jesus didn't think of it that way - and instead humbled himself, κτλ.*

Hope this helps.

* By the way, κτλ. is the Greek way of writing etc. It's short for καὶ τὰ λοιπά ("and the rest"), which corresponds to Latin et cetera ("and other things").
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Re: Use of definite article with infinitive

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 31st, 2013, 2:52 pm

Jason's response is great. I'll just add that in these constructions the topic (the logical subject) tends to get the article and focus (the logical predicate) tends to lack the article. Thus, "he did not consider being-equal-to-God to be robbery," not "he did not consider robbery to be being-equal-to-God." So the KJV, though nicely worded, seems to reverse the logical subject and predicate.
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Re: Use of definite article with infinitive

Postby Jason Hare » January 31st, 2013, 2:58 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Jason's response is great. I'll just add that in these constructions the topic (the logical subject) tends to get the article and focus (the logical predicate) tends to lack the article. Thus, "he did not consider being-equal-to-God to be robbery," not "he did not consider robbery to be being-equal-to-God." So the KJV, though nicely worded, seems to reverse the logical subject and predicate.


Oh, indeed. I haven't read the King James Version in so long (any English Bible, really) that I forgot how it dealt with it. I just looked it up, and I absolutely agree. That's why I translated it like I did above. :) Thanks for pointing this out!
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Re: Use of definite article with infinitive

Postby David Lim » February 1st, 2013, 11:24 am

Jason Hare wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:Jason's response is great. I'll just add that in these constructions the topic (the logical subject) tends to get the article and focus (the logical predicate) tends to lack the article. Thus, "he did not consider being-equal-to-God to be robbery," not "he did not consider robbery to be being-equal-to-God." So the KJV, though nicely worded, seems to reverse the logical subject and predicate.


Oh, indeed. I haven't read the King James Version in so long (any English Bible, really) that I forgot how it dealt with it. I just looked it up, and I absolutely agree. That's why I translated it like I did above. :) Thanks for pointing this out!

Actually the KJV didn't reverse the subject and predicate. It says "thought it not robbery to be equal with God", where "it" has to refer to "to be equal with God", and thus conveys the correct subject and predicate. However, it did change "did not consider it X to be Y" to "considered it not X to be Y", which is an interpretative assumption.
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Re: Use of definite article with infinitive

Postby George F Somsel » February 1st, 2013, 11:50 am

David is correct regarding the English of the AV [AKA: KJV]. I should know since I have been speaking and reading English all of my nearly 39 years (Wanna buy a bridge?). :D
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Re: Use of definite article with infinitive

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 1st, 2013, 12:48 pm

David Lim wrote:Actually the KJV didn't reverse the subject and predicate. It says "thought it not robbery to be equal with God", where "it" has to refer to "to be equal with God", and thus conveys the correct subject and predicate. However, it did change "did not consider it X to be Y" to "considered it not X to be Y", which is an interpretative assumption.


I had parsed it as "thought it not: robbery to be equal with God", but your parsing "thought it not robbery: to be equal with God" also seems possible, with a different scope of the negation.
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Re: Use of definite article with infinitive

Postby David Lim » February 4th, 2013, 9:03 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:Actually the KJV didn't reverse the subject and predicate. It says "thought it not robbery to be equal with God", where "it" has to refer to "to be equal with God", and thus conveys the correct subject and predicate. However, it did change "did not consider it X to be Y" to "considered it not X to be Y", which is an interpretative assumption.


I had parsed it as "thought it not: robbery to be equal with God", but your parsing "thought it not robbery: to be equal with God" also seems possible, with a different scope of the negation.

I see. But I think the verb in the form "thought it ..." needs two parameters in the form "thought it X to be Y". If this was true in the time of the KJV, your first parsing would not be possible. I can't say I am sure though, as I never spoke that ancient an English. :)
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Re: Use of definite article with infinitive

Postby George F Somsel » February 4th, 2013, 10:43 pm

David Lim wrote:
I see. But I think the verb in the form "thought it ..." needs two parameters in the form "thought it X to be Y". If this was true in the time of the KJV, your first parsing would not be possible. I can't say I am sure though, as I never spoke that ancient an English.


Actually, that is modern English. Chaucer is Middle English (and it's still understandable as written).

I never thought of this verse in any other way than as understanding the articular infinitive phrase as an apositive to "it." What can I say? But I grew up using the AV so I was used to its style.
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Re: Use of definite article with infinitive

Postby David Lim » February 5th, 2013, 2:02 am

George F Somsel wrote:David Lim wrote:
I see. But I think the verb in the form "thought it ..." needs two parameters in the form "thought it X to be Y". If this was true in the time of the KJV, your first parsing would not be possible. I can't say I am sure though, as I never spoke that ancient an English.


Actually, that is modern English. Chaucer is Middle English (and it's still understandable as written).

I never thought of this verse in any other way than as understanding the articular infinitive phrase as an apositive to "it." What can I say? But I grew up using the AV so I was used to its style.

Oh really? Do you recall offhand an example (from the KJV) that has "thought it X" (with only one parameter)? My first Bible version was the KJV too, haha..
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