Prominence in Passive Construction with hUPO in Mk 1:9

George Blaisdell maqhth at
Wed Sep 26 16:23:36 EDT 2001

George Blaisdell
Roslyn, WA

"Be not troubling of you the heart..."
[From the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, verse 1.]

>From: "Iver Larsen"

>Would you or others like to defend the hypothesis that clause final 
>position can be used to show prominence in Greek?

Me too.

Yet perhaps prominence is the wrong term.  I have always regarded the 
central term in a sentence as central to the focus of the sentence in Greek, 
which is why word endings are so important, so as to establish the 
relationships of connectivity of the words.  In English, these connectives 
are pretty much dependent on word order.

In a sense, the first word in a Greek sentence is the utterly most imortant, 
for it introduces the whole sentence, and must be kept firmly in mind as the 
rest of the sentence unfolds.  One lets that first word slip out of focus at 
one's cognitive peril!  And as well, the final word indeed can act as the 
denouement of a whole chain of words that up to that point are not fitting 
together - So that we could easily argue that the LAST word is prominent.  
But the core of the sentence is its center - It is the horse that carries 
over into the next sentence.  It carries the focus of the whole of the 

Mike's example of Eph 2:1ff perfectly illustrates this, for this is a long 
rhetorical chain that ends in 2:5 with cariti este seswsmenoi, which he 
rightly sees as the culmination.  Yet the chapter goes on, showing the 
contrast of before this event and after it [2:1-2:5 = before, and 2:6-2:10 = 
after].  All of which places the core in the middle at 2:5.  And indeed it 
is this core [cariti este seswsmenoi] that carries us cognitively foreward 
into 2:11ff...  Which in its turn has a core, and so forth...

This, at any rate, is what I look  for in reading a Greek text, and not just 
the GNT.  There always seems to be a turning point in word order, around 
which the words and meanings revolve and bring into focus.  My Greek 
teacher, Dr. Warren at SDSU, used the Anabasus by Xenophon as the story that 
illustrates this principle, for the Greeks entered Persia as mercenaries - a 
small force - In the service of the Persian king who got killed in battle 
early on, and found themselves hopelessly outnumbered by enemies with no 
friends, and they pretty much gave up hope of survival.  Then comes the 
turning point, where one man rouses his companions to action and hope [the 
unnamed Xenophon, the author], and the rest of the narrative tells of their 
battling their way out of Persia and back home to Greece.

He said Greek sentences are built like this story, you see...  They start 
out, reach a turning point, and wrap up the action.

I am sure there are tons of exceptions!


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