1 Timothy 4:10

Steven Lo Vullo slovullo at mac.com
Mon Mar 11 01:11:40 EST 2002

on 3/10/02 8:24 AM, Iver Larsen at iver_larsen at sil.org wrote:

> Most of this discussion has been theological (soteriological) from two
> opposite viewpoints, so I will only comment on one little linguistic part
> below:
>> Steven: You seem to be saying that  MALISTA qualifies PISTWN, and PISTWN
> are
>> MALISTA, in contrast to PANTWN ANQRWPWN, who are not MALISTA. The fact is
>> that MALISTA does not qualify PISTWN. It complements implied ESTIN, and
>> indicates that God is in a special way Savior of believers, not that
>> believers are special vis a vis unbelievers! MALISTA, as an
>> adverb, modifies or complements verbs, not substantives.
> If we want to fill out the ellipsis in the second part from the first, we
> would get something like hOS/QEOS ESTIN MALISTA SWTHR PISTWN.
> It is matter of interpretation whether MALISTA qualifies ESTIN or the
> implied event in SWTHR or even PISTWN. Although grammatically speaking
> adverbs do not modify substantives, I believe they can modify the event
> implied in a substantive. This may not be standard Greek grammar, but it
> makes good sense to me.
> If we take the suggestion that an adverb in English is positioned before the
> word it modifies, should we translate it
> 1) "God is the savior of all people, and he especially is the savior of
> believers" or
> 2) "God is the savior of all people, and he is especially the savior of
> believers" or
> 3) "God is the savior of all people, and he is the savior of especially the
> believers"?

Hi Iver:

My practice in regard to treating adverbs is that, if it makes good sense to
construe it with a verb (either explicit or clearly implied), and if there
is not another adverb or an adjective with which to construe the adverb that
makes more sense than construing it with the verb, I will default to the
verb, unless there is a compelling reason for not doing so. While I would
not prima facie rule out construing an adverb with a substantive implying
action or an event, I think this is the least likely option and would only
do so as a last resort, since, as you acknowledge above, adverbs do not
grammatically modify substantives. I think this is a good practice for the
following two reasons:

(1) It will result in a much higher probability of accuracy, since, again,
adverbs do not naturally modify substantives.

(2) It provides a desirable degree of restraint in analysis. Otherwise we
are basically adrift in a sea of subjectivism, and may basically construe
adverbs willy-nilly with any number of substantives in a clause, especially
in elliptical clauses.

And I do not agree that all three examples you give above are equally valid
or should be given equal consideration. As an example, I think if we take
seriously the verbal idea implied by PISTWN, and construe MALISTA with it,
we end up with something like "those who especially believe," i.e., it
implies a contrast between those who merely believe and those who believe in
a special way or to an unusual degree, which is clearly not the idea
expressed here. Remember, if you want to go this route, it is the VERBAL
idea, i.e., the ACTION implied in the substantive, that is modified. This
may sound like nit-picking, but I think it makes a real difference.

Steven Lo Vullo
Madison, WI
slovullo at mac.com

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