The use of the Greek article

Roger Thornhill

Active member
The Greek article is basic to Greek, but it's not that basic functionally. In my Greek reading I have found that looking for the antecedent of articular nouns instead of considering it to merely make something definite is more illuminating.

Comments?

https://www.wenstrom.org/downloads/written/word_studies/greek/ho.pdf

Ho
A. Function of the Definite Article
1. The article was originally derived from the demonstrative pronoun ho, he, to, and is clearly akin to the relative pronoun hos, he, ho.
2. It always retained some of the demonstrative force.
3. This fact is evidenced by its frequent use in the papyri purely as a demonstrative pronoun.
4. The function of the article is to point out an object or to draw attention to it.
5. It was used by the Greeks to make a word stand out distinctly.
6. Whenever the article occurs the object is certainly definite.
7. The basal function of the Greek article is to point out individual identity.
B. Dan Wallace lists 3 basic forces of the article (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics-Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, pages 210-211):
1. Conceptualize
2. Identify
3. Definitize
C. Wallace states that “all articles that conceptualize also identify; all articles that identify conceptualize” (ibid.).
D. Liddel and Scott divide the definite article’s classical usage under 4 general categories (pages 1192-1195):
1. demonstrative pronoun, that
2. definite article, the, to specifiy individuals
3. relative pronoun
4. crasis of article
E. The
1. As a demonstrative pronoun
New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon lists the following 2 basic usages for the article (pages 433-437):
a. In the words of the poet Aratus quoted by Paul Acts 17:28.
b. In prose, where it makes a partition or distributes into parts
c. In narration, when either two persons or two parties are alternately placed in opposition to each other
and the discourse turns from one to the other......

... truncated due to length
 
Last edited:
How does your understanding of the article illuminate this passage?
II Tim. 4:13 said:
τὸν φαιλόνην ὃν ἀπέλιπον ἐν Τρῳάδι παρὰ Κάρπῳ ἐρχόμενος φέρε, καὶ τὰ βιβλία μάλιστα τὰς μεμβράνας.]
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
How does your understanding of the article illuminate this passage?

This is a good example of a concept inserted into a discourse that begins and ends in the same sentence. The referent is accessible based on contextual evidence and not textual evidence.

In my experience if the same noun/synonym is found directly proceeding it, it is the antecedent.

I suspect there are no exceptions to this, as we see the same thing with pronouns. If there is a matching potential antecedent to a pronoun that closely precedes it, one would naturally see it as pronominal.

In other words, if a textual antecedent exists we won't go looking for a contextual one.
 
The Greek article is basic to Greek, but it's not that basic functionally. In my Greek reading I have found that looking for the antecedent of articular nouns instead of considering it to merely make something definite is more illuminating.

Comments?

https://www.wenstrom.org/downloads/written/word_studies/greek/ho.pdf

Ho
A. Function of the Definite Article
1. The article was originally derived from the demonstrative pronoun ho, he, to, and is clearly akin to the relative pronoun hos, he, ho.
2. It always retained some of the demonstrative force.
3. This fact is evidenced by its frequent use in the papyri purely as a demonstrative pronoun.
4. The function of the article is to point out an object or to draw attention to it.
5. It was used by the Greeks to make a word stand out distinctly.
6. Whenever the article occurs the object is certainly definite.
7. The basal function of the Greek article is to point out individual identity.
B. Dan Wallace lists 3 basic forces of the article (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics-Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, pages 210-211):
1. Conceptualize
2. Identify
3. Definitize
C. Wallace states that “all articles that conceptualize also identify; all articles that identify conceptualize” (ibid.).
D. Liddel and Scott divide the definite article’s classical usage under 4 general categories (pages 1192-1195):
1. demonstrative pronoun, that
2. definite article, the, to specifiy individuals
3. relative pronoun
4. crasis of article
E. The
1. As a demonstrative pronoun
New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon lists the following 2 basic usages for the article (pages 433-437):
a. In the words of the poet Aratus quoted by Paul Acts 17:28.
b. In prose, where it makes a partition or distributes into parts
c. In narration, when either two persons or two parties are alternately placed in opposition to each other
and the discourse turns from one to the other......

... truncated due to length

Could you possibly give us a sample of your Greek reading, let's say Gospel of John Chapter 1 ? Thanks in advance,
 
This is a good example of a concept inserted into a discourse that begins and ends in the same sentence. The referent is accessible based on contextual evidence and not textual evidence.
But isn't this tantamount to saying that anaphora is not strictly a grammatical concept?

The text does give us evidence for the referent. It appears that Paul had a specific cloak in mind and that he wasn't sure that Timothy knew the one he was talking about (or perhaps *knew* that Timothy didn't know the one he was talking about). This provides a reasonable explanation for his use of the article with φαιλόνην and the clause "ὃν ἀπέλιπον ἐν Τρῳάδι παρὰ Κάρπῳ." The identification of the cloak is made by use of the clarifying phrase and not previous reference or contextual evidence. The identification of τὰ βιβλία μάλιστα τὰς μεμβράνας is not as sure as that of the cloak. It may be true, or even likely, that Paul left these things behind with Carpus as well, but it cannot be ruled out that he felt confident that Timothy would know the ones he was referring to.

In my experience if the same noun/synonym is found directly proceeding it, it is the antecedent.

I suspect there are no exceptions to this, as we see the same thing with pronouns. If there is a matching potential antecedent to a pronoun that closely precedes it, one would naturally see it as pronominal.

In other words, if a textual antecedent exists we won't go looking for a contextual one.
These statements aren't very helpful for understanding the use of the article. When you say "if the same noun/synonym is found directly proceeding it, it is the antecedent," what do you mean? What constitutes "directly proceeding?" How do you make the determination between the instances you have described here as "a concept inserted into a discourse that begins and ends in the same sentence" and instances where the article could conceivably refer to a previously mentioned concept or idea. Surely you aren't suggesting that if there is a possible textual antecedent then it must be the referent?

I won't dwell on it, but I will mention again that many people don't "naturally" see the article as "pronominal."
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
Could you possibly give us a sample of your Greek reading, let's say Gospel of John Chapter 1 ? Thanks in advance,

That's a pretty broad request and I don't have anything written up, but something @Gryllus Maior said about τον θεον in John 1:1 gave me pause for thought.

From the OP:
7. The basal function of the Greek article is to point out individual identity.

But if I remember correctly he said his view was it was some sort of general concept of God not to be identified as the Father. I don't recall his exact verbiage.
 
That's a pretty broad request and I don't have anything written up, but something @Gryllus Maior said about τον θεον in John 1:1 gave me pause for thought.

From the OP:
7. The basal function of the Greek article is to point out individual identity.

But if I remember correctly he said his view was it was some sort of general concept of God not to be identified as the Father. I don't recall his exact verbiage.

Not really. I personally have recorded my readings of the entire GNT and of about half of the LXX for anyone's inspection. If you claim to be "reading" the GNT, it's better if you have the evidence to back this claim up.
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
But isn't this tantamount to saying that anaphora is not strictly a grammatical concept?

The text does give us evidence for the referent. It appears that Paul had a specific cloak in mind and that he wasn't sure that Timothy knew the one he was talking about (or perhaps *knew* that Timothy didn't know the one he was talking about). This provides a reasonable explanation for his use of the article with φαιλόνην and the clause "ὃν ἀπέλιπον ἐν Τρῳάδι παρὰ Κάρπῳ." The identification of the cloak is made by use of the clarifying phrase and not previous reference or contextual evidence. The identification of τὰ βιβλία μάλιστα τὰς μεμβράνας is not as sure as that of the cloak. It may be true, or even likely, that Paul left these things behind with Carpus as well, but it cannot be ruled out that he felt confident that Timothy would know the ones he was referring to.

These statements aren't very helpful for understanding the use of the article. When you say "if the same noun/synonym is found directly proceeding it, it is the antecedent," what do you mean? What constitutes "directly proceeding?" How do you make the determination between the instances you have described here as "a concept inserted into a discourse that begins and ends in the same sentence" and instances where the article could conceivably refer to a previously mentioned concept or idea. Surely you aren't suggesting that if there is a possible textual antecedent then it must be the referent?

I won't dwell on it, but I will mention again that many people don't "naturally" see the article as "pronominal."

I did not claim that I found examples of a contextual referent to the article informative or strictly grammatical.

As for "many people" not agreeing with the scholars quoted in my OP (eg Wenham, Wallace, LSJ) I don't l know them and cannot comment on these anonymous people.

I am suggesting that if there is a possible textual antecedent that we won't find a contextual one. I have never found that to be the case for individualizing articles of substantives that have the same sense and are found in the same contiguous narrative discourses.
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
Not really. I personally have recorded my readings of the entire GNT and of about half of the LXX for anyone's inspection. If you claim to be "reading" the GNT, it's better if you have the evidence to back this claim up.

No, I have not recorded myself and would never post such a thing on the internet.

Having 2 JMs is getting confusing. I cannot promise to keep you two straight.
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
Do you have the capacity to read an entire paragraph of the GNT smoothly and coherently, let alone an entire chapter? Like so ? Just trying to determine your capability.

I have done so, yes. In fact entire chapters from memory, but that was years ago when I first started studying Greek. But that's not what this thread is about. I realize you take pride in your accomplishments and can respect you for it, but you have brought it up more than once recently.
 
I have done so, yes. In fact entire chapters from memory, but that was years ago when I first started studying Greek. But that's not what this thread is about. I realize you take pride in your accomplishments and can respect you for it, but you have brought it up more than once recently.

Really now ? Which chapters ("in their entirety!") exactly from the GNT could you read "from memory" ? Are you still able to do such a thing ? I certainly could not do that.

2 JMs is getting confusing. I cannot promise to keep you two straight.

Not that hard if you can tell the Real JM from the other one.
 
I did not claim that I found examples of a contextual referent to the article informative or strictly grammatical.
Okay.
You see, that's the issue. Why do you assume, as you seem to do, that all context is subjective?

On CARM? 99% yes.

I do think that your contextual arguments on Hebrews 1:8 were subjective. You likely believe the context I used in my reply was subjective.

Grammatical arguments can also be subjective. I don't think my use of anaphora was, and I will continue to believe solid grammatical arguments should not be countered with ones view of "context."

That is, until someone convinces me otherwise, which is always possible.
What did you mean when you contrasted "anaphora" with "context?"

As for "many people" not agreeing with the scholars quoted in my OP (eg Wenham, Wallace, LSJ) I don't l know them and cannot comment on these anonymous people.
You don't have to. That's not the reason I mentioned it.

I am suggesting that if there is a possible textual antecedent that we won't find a contextual one. I have never found that to be the case for individualizing articles of substantives that have the same sense and are found in the same contiguous narrative discourses.
I know. I asked you for more information about this.
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
Okay.



What did you mean when you contrasted "anaphora" with "context?"


You don't have to. That's not the reason I mentioned it.


I know. I asked you for more information about this.

I am not going to go back and rehash an old discussion. But if you want to find an inconsistency in the article on anaphora, do it from this.

It will also answer the rest of your questions.

If you think you found an exception, I would like to see it.
 
I am not going to go back and rehash an old discussion. But if you want to find an inconsistency in the article on anaphora, do it from this.

It will also answer the rest of your questions.

If you think you found an exception, I would like to see it.
You started this thread to discuss the use of the Greek article and now you don't want to do so? Is this a joke?
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
You started this thread to discuss the use of the Greek article and now you don't want to do so? Is this a joke?

I don't expect what I have written in haste on a tiny iPhone keyboard to be as comprehensible as a published article that has been reviewed for ambiguity.

I will say that I find your tone offensive and if it happens again I will just put you back on ignore.
 
I don't expect what I have written in haste on a tiny iPhone keyboard to be as comprehensible
That's why I keep asking you for clarification. Your silence has nothing to do with the size of your device's keyboard.

as a published article that has been reviewed for ambiguity.
I've asked you if the article you referred to was peer-reviewed. Who wrote it?
To your knowledge was this paper ever published in a peer-reviewed publication?

I will say that I find your tone offensive and if it happens again I will just put you back on ignore.
I have even asked you twice to show me what I had said that hurt your feelings, and you didn't reply. I don't know why you consistently refuse to answer me, but I know I have always treated you with respect and civility. On a discussion board things can easily be misunderstood. It is normal to ask for clarification about things and to expect to get an answer. It is also reasonable to expect that a person who posts about a topic is interested in discussing that topic. But if you want to ignore me, go for it.
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
That's a pretty broad request and I don't have anything written up, but something @Gryllus Maior said about τον θεον in John 1:1 gave me pause for thought.

From the OP:
7. The basal function of the Greek article is to point out individual identity.

But if I remember correctly he said his view was it was some sort of general concept of God not to be identified as the Father. I don't recall his exact verbiage.
I use different verbiage at different times, but essentially, τὸν θέον in John 1:1 is God without reference to the later developed concept of "person," i.e., not the Father per se, but God as we see him revealed in the OT. The distinction between the Father and the Son is particularly a NT revelation, and John develops that distinction nicely in his Gospel.
 
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