[B-Greek] "natural" Greek

Jeffrey B. Gibson jgibson000 at comcast.net
Mon Jun 30 21:45:59 EDT 2003

On another List,  a poster made the following assertion:

> Now in Hebrew and Aramaic when a preposition applies to more than one
> noun in a series the preposition is usually
> repeated.  In the example below we have a case where the normal
> Aramaic grammar appears in the Old Syriac as
> well as the Greek Western text of codex D both of which repeat the
> preposition.  However the Alexandrian and
> Byzantine Greek text types eliminate the second occurrence of the
> preposition creating a more natural Greek
> reading. Finally the Peshitta is revised to agree with the Byzantine
> Greek text despite the fact that this creates very
> awkward Aramaic grammar.

The "example below" is in regard to the way that Matt 14:9 is set out in
the MSS witnesses named above -- to wit:

Old Syriac:
)kyms l+mw )tmwm l+mw
”And because of the oath and because of the guests”

Greek Western text of Codex D:
dia touj orkouj kai dia touj sunanakeimenouj
”And because of the oath and because of the guests”

Byzantine and Alexandrian Greek:
dia touj orkouj kai touj sunanakeimenouj
”and because of the oath and the guests”

)kymsw )tmwm Nyd l+m
”but because of the oath and the guests”

Leaving apart the fact -- best left alone here -- that the poster seems
to assume what needs to be proven when he says that the Alexandrian and
Byzantine witnesses **eliminate** the second occurrence of the
preposition (how does he know that the second DIA  was not **added** to
the exemplar(s) that form the basis D and of the OS MSS tradition?), the
post raises (at least) two questions:

1) Is it the case that the repetition of a preposition  in a phrase
where a preposition modifies two nouns in a series (let alone the
construction DIA  ... KAI DIA) is not "natural" in Hellenistic Greek? To
put this another way, would the repetition be, as is claimed above, "non
natural (bad?) Greek?

2. How would one go about determining what is and is not natural to
Hellenistic Greek.

My own answer to the second question would be to say one indicator of
whether something is "natural" is that the construction is found in
literature that spans a great deal of time and/or is used by a variety
of authors and/or in a variety of genres.

I'd be glad to receive your own answers.


Jeffrey Gibson


Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
Chicago, IL 60626

jgibson000 at attbi.com

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