Mapping the article to English usage

Gryllus Maior

Active member
Since going back and finding the original post to respond to would take a long time, I'm posting this in a separate thread. Recently however Trapeza defended his rendering of John 1:1, "and the word was a god" by the observation that the lack of the article equates to the indefinite article in English, and he cited a greek example ἰατρός ("a physician") and claiming that he had seen far too many examples for John 1:1 to be seen otherwise.

This is wrong. The Greek article does not always map to such usage, particularly when context and other syntactical rules apply. This is the case in John 1:1 where θεός lacks the article. It does so to mark it as the predicate. RJM likes to call it "my rule" as though I made it up and there's something subjective about it, but it's quite standard throughout ancient Greek, and nobody questions it. This is why the vast majority of translations render "and the word was God and not "and God was the word..."

Now, the article is a big subject and needs a major treatment along the lines of Denniston's Greek Particles. Most of the scholarship is scattered throughout monographs, dissertations, and journal articles often in the form of treating the article in relationship to another question. I'm already writing one lit review paper and I'm not going to take the time to do so here for a subject this big. But simply put, it's not accurate to call the Greek article "the definite article." It doesn't work at all times like the definite article in English (the first time one sees it with a proper name is quite sobering to that effect). Neither does the lack of the article necessarily mean indefiteness (though of course sometimes -- pay attention to the context). Here is one example from the NT, 1 Tim 2:5

εἷς γὰρ θεός, εἷς καὶ μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων, ἄνθρωπος Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς,

Is any singular noun in this verse truly indefinite? I particularly like ἄνθρωπος. Do we really want to render it "a man" rather than "the man"?
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
Since going back and finding the original post to respond to would take a long time, I'm posting this in a separate thread. Recently however Trapeza defended his rendering of John 1:1, "and the word was a god" by the observation that the lack of the article equates to the indefinite article in English, and he cited a greek example ἰατρός ("a physician") and claiming that he had seen far too many examples for John 1:1 to be seen otherwise.

This is wrong. The Greek article does not always map to such usage, particularly when context and other syntactical rules apply. This is the case in John 1:1 where θεός lacks the article. It does so to mark it as the predicate. RJM likes to call it "my rule" as though I made it up and there's something subjective about it, but it's quite standard throughout ancient Greek, and nobody questions it. This is why the vast majority of translations render "and the word was God and not "and God was the word..."

Now, the article is a big subject and needs a major treatment along the lines of Denniston's Greek Particles. Most of the scholarship is scattered throughout monographs, dissertations, and journal articles often in the form of treating the article in relationship to another question. I'm already writing one lit review paper and I'm not going to take the time to do so here for a subject this big. But simply put, it's not accurate to call the Greek article "the definite article." It doesn't work at all times like the definite article in English (the first time one sees it with a proper name is quite sobering to that effect). Neither does the lack of the article necessarily mean indefiteness (though of course sometimes -- pay attention to the context). Here is one example from the NT, 1 Tim 2:5

εἷς γὰρ θεός, εἷς καὶ μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων, ἄνθρωπος Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς,

Is any singular noun in this verse truly indefinite? I particularly like ἄνθρωπος. Do we really want to render it "a man" rather than "the man"?
I don't recall @τράπεζα making any kind of argument like the one you appear to be refuting.

Here is the Cambridge Classical Greek Lexicon on the subject and I know you have it both hard copy and electronic.

Note that to understand that the lack of an article is significant and also to understand it has the primary sense of identification are not mutually exclusive.

In 1 Timothy the anarthrous forms of θεος are identifiable in reference to those that have the anaphoric article. Some of them are in prepositional phrases where the article is often omitted. None of this applies to θεος at John 1:1c where you oddly take it as "definite."

Ironically when you call it "definite" with no grammatical justification you commit the same thing of which you accuse @τράπεζα

That is because you just declare it "definite."


Meaning of the Definite Article
Basic Meaning
28.1
Greek has a definite article (ὁ, ἡ, τό the), but no indefinite article (Engl. singular a or an). The Greek equivalent of an indefinite article is the lack of an article: (1) πρῶτον μὲν ἠρεμεῖν δεῖ διδάσκειν τὸν ἵππον. (Xen. Eq. 7.8) First it is necessary to teach the horse to stay still. (2) οὐ γὰρ πώποτε ἐκτήσω ἵππον πλείονος ἄξιον ἢ τριῶν μνῶν. (Isae. 5.43) For you have never had a horse worth more than three minae. The article is ‘definite’ because it refers to someone/something that is identifiable: the article expresses that it is clear who/what is meant, and that it can be distinguished from other people/things.
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
No. What I'm saying is that definiteness and indefiteness are qualified by syntactical markers and overall context, and I'm suggesting that to declare it "the definite article" in our metalanguage can actually lead astray (as much as I like CGG). Note that I have the background to make this kind of evaluation (or at least advance it as an argument -- it would make a nice monograph), and that you do not.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
No. What I'm saying is that definiteness and indefiteness are qualified by syntactical markers and overall context, and I'm suggesting that to declare it "the definite article" in our metalanguage can actually lead astray (as much as I like CGG). Note that I have the background to make this kind of evaluation (or at least advance it as an argument -- it would make a nice monograph), and that you do not.
So you are appealing to authority and that is you. Got it.

But you have yet to demonstrate that θεος at John 1:1c is "identifiable."

CCG says "The article is ‘definite’ because it refers to someone/something that is identifiable: the article expresses that it is clear who/what is meant."

So you might say it's clear to you on your own authority but you must admit that there are those who you would consider to be Greek scholars that don't agree with you, so it's not clear outside of your own mind.
 

The Real John Milton

Well-known member
This is wrong. The Greek article does not always map to such usage, particularly when context and other syntactical rules apply. This is the case in John 1:1 where θεός lacks the article. It does so to mark it as the predicate. RJM likes to call it "my rule" as though I made it up and there's something subjective about it, but it's quite standard throughout ancient Greek, and nobody questions it.

Gryllus, I'm not questioning the fact that in the GNT when you have a S-PN construction where one substantive is articular and the other is anarthrous , that the articular substantive almost always is the S and the article-less substantive the PN. I'm questioning your understanding of why this is the case. In such constructions, the reason why the anarthrous substantive seems invariably to be the PN is because it is indefinite (and indefinite substantives are never [as far as I can tell] the S in a S-PN construction), and NOT because of your false argument that Greek writers consciously remove the article from one substantive for the sole purpose of showcasing the other substantive as the S. Virtually all S-PN constructions with an anarthrous pre-verbal PN are indefinite, or much less often qualitative. Rarely, if ever, are they definite. Also, and this is important , when both substantives are definite, even if one is articular and the other indefinite, the articular substantive need not be the S. So your reasoning does not apply on multiple levels.

Bottom line: The phenomenon which you are observing deals with S-PN constructions where one Substantive is articular and the other indefinite, which is NOT relevant to your understanding of John 1:1c where you take one substantive to be articular and the other definite. So you can't use this phenomenon to prove anything for your understanding of the grammar at John 1:1c to begin with.

Does this clarify things for you ?
 
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The Real John Milton

Well-known member
I
No. What I'm saying is that definiteness and indefiteness are qualified by syntactical markers and overall context, and I'm suggesting that to declare it "the definite article" in our metalanguage can actually lead astray (as much as I like CGG). Note that I have the background to make this kind of evaluation (or at least advance it as an argument -- it would make a nice monograph), and that you do not.
Sorry Gryllus, but that is not true. Your biblical Greek grammar is actually quite lacking. I know this from my previous interactions with you, though I will admit that you are somewhat proficient at chopping & parsing short Greek sentences. You boast no academic credentials of any significance (so you boast with blanket assertions of supposed expertise , as bold above), nor do you possess any peer reviewed publications, nor even are you an author of the simplest, non-peer reviewed book or publication of any sort. You are also not a teacher of the bible or of biblical Greek, certainly not even an associate professor , ...forget about a full professorship with a tenure track. You're an internet enthusiast with a 40 or 50 year track record as a fast talking, hit and run commentator who rarely explains his positions or even expounds upon them in detail when questioned.
 
Sorry Gryllus, but that is not true. Your biblical Greek grammar is actually quite lacking.
The difference here is that you do not have the requisite knowledge to make that kind of judgment. You are not qualified to evaluate anyone else’s ability to understand another language, given that you are naught but an ignoramus who suffers from megalomania and exhibits the pitfalls of the Dunning–Kruger Effect. You have zero learning and think you’re a master of the subject. You aren’t, and no one here believes you for a second.
 

The Real John Milton

Well-known member
The difference here is that you do not have the requisite knowledge to make that kind of judgment. You are not qualified to evaluate anyone else’s ability to understand another language, given that you are naught but an ignoramus who suffers from megalomania and exhibits the pitfalls of the Dunning–Kruger Effect. You have zero learning and think you’re a master of the subject. You aren’t, and no one here believes you for a second.
Most everything I said about Gryllus is true.

As for me, (1)I'm self-taught, (2) I don't pretend academic credentials which I don't have, and most importantly (3) I rely on the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth in biblical matters.

Now back to the topic at hand. And refute what I wrote on the subject matter, if you can.
 

The Real John Milton

Well-known member
I have analyzed many S-PN constructions in the Bible, and especially from the Gospel of John, and can confidently assert that no biblical writer (and certainly not the apostle John) consciously refrained the use of the article from one of the two substantives in a S-PN construction for the sole purpose of signifying it's status as a PN. That is simply not how a bible writer would begin to write Greek. Only someone schooled in chop & parsing could even imagine a Greek author saying something as follows, in the course of writing out a sentence , "Ok , I want readers to understand that Θεὸς is the Predicate Nominative in the statement καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος, so I am going to make it anarthrous even though it is definite and can take the article." That is just nonsense. And Gryllus does not know any better. If what he says is true, then we would never find sentences like this in koine Greek:

καὶ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων
 
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