Syntax Grammars

Lauren Porter Lauren_Porter at
Sat Dec 11 09:33:43 EST 1999

cwconrad at writes:
(3) I was unaware that teaching an eight-case system was more
characteristic of a NT Greek teacher than of one who teaches Classical
Attic or who teaches a broader range of Greek language and literature, and
in fact, I don't believe it. I've always taught it myself, thinking that
when one deals with the earlier Greek literature it is all the more
important to be able to distinguish an ablatival from a partitive or
pertinentive genitive or to distinguish an instrumental-comitative from a
referential and from a locative dative. My impression, for what it's worth,
is that it is those who want to focus solely on NT Koine Greek who are more
likely to take a four-case approach to the language. But then, I don't
really believe that this EITHER/OR stance toward the Greek language is all
that widespread among teachers of Greek. I may very well be mistaken.
Perhaps Biblical Greek should be taught in Engineering Schools, or perhaps
Seminaries ought to be structured more like Engineering Schools.

Dear List, 

	I am fairly new to B-Greek and so, as I have followed the recent discussion
of syntax grammars, I have noted that there seems to be an underlying thread
amid all of the talk.  While some are content merely to speak of the virtues
and vices of various intermediate and advanced grammars, others have extended
the conversation to a debate between the five-case system and the eight-case
	As far as I have gathered from listening to this discussion and from my own
personal reading on the subject, the primary proponent of the eight-case
system was A.T. Robertson in his massive tome published around the turn of the
century.  Please note:  I do not wish to start a debate over which is correct,
but I do wish to get some clarification, if I may.  
	Carl has suggested that this systemization of Greek is not limited to NT
Studies.  However, from my training in the Classical community (mainly at the
University of Nebraska) I have not as yet encountered any classicist who
seriously contended for the eight-case system.  Are there any classicists who
have published on this topic?  I am interested in both the earliest appearance
of this discussion and the most recent manifestation within the classical
	I believe that this is an important question to answer on this list.  For, if
there is no serious support of the eight-case system within classical
scholarship, then I think that calls into question the validity of its current
use in the teaching of NT Greek.  However, if as Carl has suggested, there are
classicists who contend for the validity of this eight-case system as well,
then it casts the present discussion in a completely different light.  
	Again, while I realize this could degenerate into further discussion of
accidence versus syntax and form versus function, I am really looking for the
citation of evidence from classical scholarship.  And, since I know that there
are at least two or three classicists on the list, I feel that this is an
excellent point at which to draw upon their years of experience as it
intersects a growing debate in NT Greek.  
	Thank you in advance for any help that maybe offered. 

	Lauren Porter
	Asbury Theological Semiinary 

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