Al & Patty Jacobson
abj at the-bridge.net
Sun Jan 28 16:25:58 EST 2001
I see your point Steve, and I note that many good English translations
translate the passages more in keeping with the literal translation. I also
note that the verb hRHXWSIN in Matthew 7:6 would be more characteristic of
the action of swine (especially boars with tusks, for example)than to the
action of dogs (where we might expect a verb such as daxwsin/dhxwsin) and
this, to me, supports the more traditional translation of the Matthew
passage rather than the chiasmic style which the translators have inserted
in the examples you gave.
As the Philemon passage, one might expect an elliptical expression where
(assuming the order used in the text is the order of thought in the author's
mind) the author compresses the following two clauses into one:
(A) AKOUWN SOU THN AGAPHN hHN EXEIS PROS TON KURION IHSOUN
(B) AKOUWN KAI THN PISTIN, hNN EXEIS EIS PANTAS TOUS hAGIOUS
AKOUWN SOU THN AGAPHN KAI THN PISTIN, hHN EXEIS PROS TON KURION IHSOUN KAI
EIS PANTAS TOUS hAGIOUS
But though the translators treat it as if it were an elliptical expression,
they translate it as if the expressions were:
(A) AKOUWN SOU THN AGAPHN hHN EXEIS EIS PANTAS TOUS hAGIOUS
(B) KAI AKOUWN THN PISTIN, hNN EXEIS PROS TON KURION IHSOUN (i.e., the
almost as if Paul began the phrase commending their love for all the saints
and, in mid sentence inserted, as an important supervening thought, their
faith in the Lord Jesus. Thus we are left with a somewhat awkward phrase in
Greek. I think there might be some significance in the differences in the
prepositions used (PROS TON KURION and EIS TOUS hAGIOUS) but I confess that
it isn't readily apparent to me in this passage.
I don't know of any studies of "implied" or "latent" chiasmus (which, for
lack of a better word, I will call this sort of phenomenon). I have never
done a study on it. Does anyone else know of any?
From: Steven Craig Miller [mailto:stevencraigmiller at home.com]
Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2001 2:11 PM
To: Biblical Greek
Subject: [b-greek] Re: "Syntactical Chiasmus"
To: Kevin L. Barney,
<< [If your particular interest is NT, you should also try to get the
classic study by Nils Lund, _Chiasmus in the New Testament_ (Chapel Hill).
Unfortunately, I believe this book has long been out of print; you might
try E-Bay. >>
I use bookfinder.com in order to find used books. But I have a copy of
Lund's "Chiasmus in the New Testament," mine is a reprint from Hendrickson,
so maybe it is still in print. I don't know. Anyway, it shouldn't be too
hard to find. Unfortunately, it doesn't really address the issue of a
"Syntaxctical Chiasmmus." It doesn't even list the Philemon 5 example most
likely because Philemon 5 isn't a real chiasmus. It does mention the
Matthew 7:6 example. But it doesn't really discuss the issue of Greek
syntax. My question is not whether or not there are examples of chiasmus in
Greek texts, obviously there are, rather my question is whether or not a
chiasmus can effect Greek syntax.
Can a chiasmus effect Greek Syntax?
At Philemon 5, the NRSV translates: "because I hear of your love for all
the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus," whereas a more literal
translation might be: "because I hear of your love and faith[fulness],
which you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints."
The Greek text has:
(B) SOU THN AGAPHN
(C) KAI THN PISTIN,
(D) hHN EXEIS
(E) PROS TON KURION IHSOUN
(F) KAI EIS PANTAS TOUS hAGIOUS.
The NRSV has taken B and joined it with F and taken C and joined it with E
based on (what I call) a "Syntactical Chiasmus," whereas a more normal
reading of this syntax would take B + C as dependent upon A, and E + F and
dependent on D. What justification is there for NRSV's understanding of
Greek syntax at Philemon 5?
Similarly, at Matthew 7:6, the CEV translates "Don't give to dogs what
belongs to God. They will only turn and attack you. Don't throw pearls down
in front of pigs. They will trample all over them," whereas a more literal
translation might be: "Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw
your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and
maul you" (NRSV).
A more traditional understanding of this syntax would assume that both the
dogs and the pigs might "trample them under foot and turn and maul you";
but the CEV has taken the phrase which comes at the end "They will only
turn and attack you" and moved it forward so that it now ONLY applies to
the dogs. What justification is there in GREEK SYNTAX for such a
(1) Does any of the major reference grammars mention or approve of this
(2) Are there any non-biblical examples of this syntax (such as might be
found in classical Greek)?
(3) Are there any other biblical examples (in the NT or LXX) of this syntax?
(4) Does this syntax appear legitimate to you?
(5) Has there been any articles written which attempts to justify or
discuss this syntax?
Any help on this issue will be greatly appreciated.
-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)
stevencraigmiller at home.com
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