Deep Structure Eph 3:7

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at
Sun Sep 23 14:54:42 EDT 2001

Clayton said:
> I was suggesting that given a chain of clauses like:
> Clause-A + Rel. PN1 + Clause-B + Rel. PN2 +  Clause-C + Rel. PN3 +
> Clause-D + Rel. PN4 +  Clause-E
> that relative pronoun #4 (Rel. PN4) links Clause-E to Clause-D, as well as
> subordinating Clause-E to Clause-D. However, I doubt that there is much
> significance to links past the first level. I don't think that the
> subordinatinon of Clause-E to clauses C, B, and A is very significant.
> One reason that a relative pronoun might be used rather than a conjunctive
> particle to link two clauses is that it forms a tighter
> conceptual coupling.
> However, I am not sure that this conceptual coupling in a book like
> Ephesians functions beyond the first link. I have doubts about the
> conceptual coupling between Clause-E and Clause-A.

I'd like to support Clay on this idea.

Stephen Levinsohn makes the following observations in his book "Information
structure and discourse features of NT Greek." I quote:
"Nonrestrictive relative clauses in Greek are traditionally subdivided into
appositional and continuative (Winer 1882:680).  Appositional relative
clauses, as their name suggests, stand in apposition to the noun that they
modify. Continuative relative clauses, in contrast, typically describe an
event that involves the referent of the relative pronoun and occurs
subsequent to the previous event or situation in which the referent

And again:
"In continuative relative clauses in narrative, the material preceding the
relative pronoun is often naturally background information. In non-narrative
discourses such as reasoned argument, however, it may itself have been the
foreground assertion, which then becomes the "ground" for another foreground
assertion.  For example, Acts 7:44-46 contains a chain of relative clauses.
Each in turn becomes the ground for a following foreground assertion."

Jespersen states that English employs this kind of continuative relative
clause, too, but it seems that they are much more common in NT Greek. Paul,
especially, is fond of them.

In grammatical terms these clauses are subordinated to the preceding clause
by a relative pronoun, but semantically they can as well be considered
propositions on the same level as the previous proposition. In narrative,
the content of the continuative relative clause is often more prominent in
the discourse than the previous clause, so Levinsohn says that the previous
material is commonly background material and the relative clause gives
foreground material. In expository discourse, these statements are like
successive statements, linked together by the relative pronoun. The pronoun
occurs first in the sentence and is often preceded by a preposition. It very
often picks up a topic from the previous sentence and makes a new statement
about this topic. The fact that this construction is used and the relative
occurs in the first and most prominent position in the sentence may indicate
that the noun or concept the pronoun refers to is in focus.

One can say that the construction with a relative pronoun optionally
preceded by a preposition
(Preposition +) Rel. Pron.  is more or less equivalent to

(It is) (Preposition +) Personal or Demonstrative Pronoun

Whether a form of EIMI needs to be supplied depends on what other verbs are
present. Let me illustrate by comparing the KJV/RSV and the NRSV in Col

RSV: the church, of which I became a minister
NRSV: the church. I became its servant

NRSV has started a new sentence and substituted the pronoun "it" for the
relative. One could have repeated the noun 'church' like in: It is this/the
church that I became a servant of.

KJV: to his saints: To whom God would make known..
NRSV: to his saints. To them God chose to make known...

Instead of the relative pronoun 'whom', the personal pronoun 'them' is used
in a new sentence. One could consider whether the intention is more
emphatic, like: It is to the saints that God chose to make known...

KJV: this mystery ... which is Christ in you
NRSV: this mystery, which is Christ in you

One could have made this a separate sentence, too: 'The mystery is that
Christ is in you', but it is not as needed here in English as in some other
cases. This relative clause is more towards the appositional than the
continuative end of the spectrum. I am not sure there is a clear border line
between these two.

KJV: Christ... Whom we preach
NRSV: Christ... It is he whom we preach

NRSV has supplied 'It is' in order to have an independent sentence. One
could have said: 'It is (this) Christ we preach..'

KJV: that we may present every man perfect... Whereunto I also labour
NRSV: that we may present everyone mature... For this I toil...

When the relative is in the masculine or feminine, we would look for a noun
in the preceding sentence which is taken up as the new topic, and I agree
with Clay that we should not go to a far distant context, but move backwards
and pick the first noun that fits the gender as the most likely candidate.
If the relative is in the neuter, it may relate to a neuter noun, but it
often relates to a concept expressed by a verb or a whole proposition as in
the last example, where 'this' refers to 'presenting everyone mature'.
Again, one could supply a form of 'to be' and say: It is for this (purpose)
that I toil... or more fully:
It is to present everyone mature in Christ that I toil...

It is an interesting topic from a linguistic and translation point of view.
It is related to a previous discussion where I suggested that a prep. + rel.
pron. could be understood as equivalent to prep. + dem. pron. (EF' hO PAREI;

Thanks, Clay,

Iver Larsen

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