Iver Larsen iver_larsen at
Tue Oct 9 03:05:00 EDT 2001

Thanks to several people for their comments.

Let me try to respond as briefly as I can in one message:

Alan said:
> "By way of English examples, we have conventional ways of expressing
multiple nominals.

> 1. I now pronounce you HUSBAND/MAN and WIFE
> 2. Would you like a PEANUT BUTTER and JELLY sandwich
> 3. May I introduce MR. and MRS. Smith
> 4. Colors of the Am. flag are RED, WHITE, and BLUE
> 5. The directions are NORTH...(SOUTH or EAST...)

> I think that apart from conventional ways of expressing multiple nominals,
emphasis or prominence is not in view."

To this, I have two comments.
First, my hypothesis concerns Greek, not English. The kind of emphasis that
Greek is able to communicate by way of word order choice, cannot, or can
only rarely, be expressed in English by word order choice. The corresponding
English method is phonological stress. I am not saying that these are always
equal or correspond, but stress in English seems to be the nearest you get
to what word order does in Greek.
Second, it is correct that most if not all languages have a conventional
order of particular expressions. This is an underlying cultural choice that
correlates with a linguistic choice. And you are right, when there is an
underlying cultural convention, the linguistic choice is absent. For
instance, it is a cultural choice that the GNT and to some degree also
English would always say "husband and wife", never "wife and husband". You
find this with "men and women", "elders and brothers" "officers and
soldiers" etc.

Mark Wilson said:
> Would not the Ascensive use of KAI have some bearing
> on the issue of prominence given to the first item?
> Each "even" "also" "namely" seems to give equality to
> the two nominals in such a translation/understanding.

I am not sure I believe in "ascentive KAI". But then, I am not sure of the
definition, either. We do need to distinguish between an adverbial use of
KAI and a coordinating use of KAI.
> In John 3:5:
> Seems like "prominence" ought to be given to the PNEUMATOS,
> although this is in the unemphatic position.

Although I don't think there is any particular emphasis on PNEUMATOS here, I
don't think there is any emphasis on hUDATOS either. I am more inclined to
think that the contextual stress and emphasis is upon the KAI - "AND".

Whereas the choice of word order is related to prominence, there are also
other factors that determine the choice of order.

We have seen above that cultural conventions play a part.

I believe chronology also plays a part. One tends to mention first the
things that happen first. In the case of John 3:5, I believe the birth out
of water comes chronologically before the birth from spirit. (Of course, the
interpretation of this verse is disputed. My position is that "born out of a
water" stands for the physical, first birth as opposed to the spiritual,
second birth.)

Another natural order is "from the known to the unknown". In John 3:5 the
spiritual, second birth is the unknown to Nicodemus, the new topic, whereas
the physical, first birth is a known, as is clear from 3:4. The same order
of first talking about physical birth and then spiritual birth is maintained
in 3:6.

> Finally, I note that Smyth translates QEOI KAI ZEUS: "the
> gods and above all Zeus."  Where the first item is the
> general term and the second item specific.

This, I believe, is something different again and has to do with the
difference between KAI in Greek and "and" in English.

Carlton had a similar example:
> The same emphasis seems to be in Mark 16:7 where you have the group and
. .
> "but go tell his disciples and especially Peter that . . ."

In English, the units coordinated by "and" are expected to be at the same
level and semantically disjunct. (We have discussed this before).
In Greek, the units coordinated by KAI do not have to be semantically
disjunct. One item can be a subset of the other. Or one item can be a set
and the other an element of the set. There are many examples of this, and
the literal translation of KAI in these instances by English "and" is

I understand ZEUS to be a discrete element in the set of QEOI.
Similarly, Peter is a discrete element in the set of disciples.

This kind of construction is common in Greek, but does not work in English.

This may well be another general expectation of order in Greek, namely that
the set is mentioned before the element within the set.
I do not think that "especially" or "above all" is a correct translation. I
think that imposes English conventions onto Greek. I believe a more accurate
translation is "including":

Go and tell his disciples, including Peter.

Thanks to all for helping to look at some of the other factors involved in
the choice of word order. These other factors (or rules) are to be applied
before the general, default principle of "what is to the left is relatively
more prominent".

Iver Larsen

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