Grammar question, genders don't agree

Grammar questions which are not related to any specific text.

Grammar question, genders don't agree

Postby WAnderson » April 8th, 2013, 2:34 am

Been (slowly) working my way through Rev., it's been a challenge but rewarding. Right now I'm kind of stumped on 12.5 and hoping for some clarification. I'm reading in various commentaries (because I can't seem to locate the topic in a grammar) about the "odd" language where huion is masc. but arsen is neut. (ie, the neut adj is modifying the masc noun). Most commentators think the language there is intentional, but my question is what specifically is the general rule (or pattern) that this construction "violates", and where would I locate it in a grammar so I can read more on it? This seems like it would be a very basic question, but I can't find the specifics. Thanks
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Re: Grammar question, genders don't agree

Postby WAnderson » April 8th, 2013, 3:58 am

Just realized I should be more specific about what I'm looking for. I believe the general category I'm referring to is "concord," at least that's what Goetchius calls it. But I'm not sure where to find info on gender "concord" between an adj and a noun and how that relates to Rev 12.5, which appears to be an exception to the rule. What is the "rule," how common are "exceptions," and where would I normally look in a grammar to find info on this? It's late, I'm tired, hope that made sense :)
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Re: Grammar question, genders don't agree

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 8th, 2013, 6:55 am

Here's the text (which we encourage people to post if they can, so users away from their desks can also see what you're talking about):
Rev 12:3-5 wrote:3 καὶ ὤφθη ἄλλο σημεῖον ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἰδοὺ δράκων πυρρὸς μέγας, ἔχων κεφαλὰς ἑπτὰ καὶ κέρατα δέκα καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς αὐτοῦ ἑπτὰ διαδήματα, 4 καὶ ἡ οὐρὰ αὐτοῦ σύρει τὸ τρίτον τῶν ἀστέρων τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἔβαλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν γῆν. καὶ ὁ δράκων ἕστηκεν ἐνώπιον τῆς γυναικὸς τῆς μελλούσης τεκεῖν, ἵνα ὅταν τέκῃ τὸ τέκνον αὐτῆς καταφάγῃ. 5 καὶ ἔτεκεν υἱόν, ἄρσεν, ὃς μέλλει ποιμαίνειν πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐν ῥάβδῳ σιδηρᾷ· καὶ ἡρπάσθη τὸ τέκνον αὐτῆς πρὸς τὸν θεὸν καὶ πρὸς τὸν θρόνον αὐτοῦ.

I included more than v.5 because I think the context helps lets us know what's going on. The way it's punctuated shows that the editors did not understand ἄρσεν as being an adjective that modifies υἱόν but as an adjective modifying an implicit noun in apposition to υἱόν. I think the understood noun that ἄρσεν modifies is τὸ τέκνον (the child, which is usually neuter in Indo-European languages). Constituents in apposition generally have to agree (i.e., "have concord") in case because their role in the sentence is the same, but their gender and number depends on their own meaning and lexis.
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Re: Grammar question, genders don't agree

Postby WAnderson » April 8th, 2013, 3:51 pm

Thanks Stephen, that helps. It still seems like a rather strange construction, but maybe that's because of my lack of familiarity. The neuter arsen is used here, but then in v13 he uses the masc arsena, which I would have expected him to use in v5 as well. That's what was confusing me. Thanks again
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Re: Grammar question, genders don't agree

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 9th, 2013, 1:11 am

I guess John mentally switched back to an implied υἱόν in v.13. This author takes full advantage of the flexibility of the Greek language, and then some.
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Re: Grammar question, genders don't agree

Postby George F Somsel » April 9th, 2013, 1:33 am

I think what we have in the 1st case is an instance of natural gender. See Smyth, Greek Grammar, §197
197. Rule of Natural Gender.—Nouns denoting male persons are masculine, nouns denoting female persons are feminine. Thus, ὁ ναύτης seaman, ὁ στρατιώτης soldier, ἡ γυνή woman, ἡ κόρη maiden.

Smyth, H. W. (1920). A Greek Grammar for Colleges (45). New York; Cincinnati; Chicago; Boston; Atlanta: American Book Company.
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Re: Grammar question, genders don't agree

Postby WAnderson » April 9th, 2013, 7:22 pm

Just thinking out loud, if arsen is functioning as a noun in apposition, shouldn't it be articular, as in v13?
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Re: Grammar question, genders don't agree

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 10th, 2013, 8:21 am

WAnderson wrote:Just thinking out loud, if arsen is functioning as a noun in apposition, shouldn't it be articular, as in v13?


No, I don't think so. There's no rule that nouns in apposition must have the article (and v.13 τὸν ἄρσενα isn't even in apposition), and in fact it would be odd here to do so.
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Re: Grammar question, genders don't agree

Postby WAnderson » April 11th, 2013, 1:55 am

Thank you Stephen et al for your responses. I'll now return my tray to the upright position and continue on with my reading. :D
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