[B-Greek] heis/mia/hen used as indefinite article?
nebarry at verizon.net
Sun Jul 24 09:25:29 EDT 2005
----- Original Message -----
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu>
To: "Eddie Mishoe" <edmishoe at yahoo.com>
Cc: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sunday, July 24, 2005 8:14 AM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] heis/mia/hen used as indefinite article?
> Although Eddie originally addressed this message to me and has
> apologized profusely (overmuch, methinks) for sending it to the list,
> I think it may be a useful matter for broader list-discussion.
Yeah, now he's got to apologize for sending it 4 times. If for each apology, he
apologizes 4 times... :)
> I think what we learn more and more as we grow more intimately
> familiar with ancient Greek -- or with any second language -- is the
> extent to which our native language shapes our thought-patterns and
> at the same time the extent to which -- for that very reason -- we
> imagine that the structures of our native language are themselves
> somehow "natural" to human thinking. I won't go further with that
> reflection, but I think it is true in any case.
A large percentage of learning any second language is learning that it really is
a different language. Occasionally, when teaching either Greek or Latin, I
would have a student who would say something like "We don't do it that way in
English at all..." To which I would reply "Aha, you're getting the point, that's
one reason we call it a foreign language!"
> As for EN hUIWi in Heb 1:2, I think that an indefinite pronoun would
> be misleading there because it might suggest a plurality of sons of
> God, and although the notion of humanity as "sons" or "children" of
> God is not problematic, the author of Hebrews is very much concerned
> with the uniqueness of God's Son. What this suggests is that the
> English indefinite article may have functions that are quite distinct
> from what the Greek writer/speaker felt required in the situation.
Contextually true. However, I think there is a fairly simple grammatical
explanation: it is not at all uncommon to omit the definite article when the
noun is used instrumentally with EN. This is fairly common in the Pauline
corpus, and though I haven't studied it much outside of Paul, it wouldn't
surprise me if it's not common in other authors as well. Can't check the
grammars right now: they are all packed in storage awaiting our next move.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Adjunct Faculty, The Center for Urban Theological Studies
Visiting Faculty, Reformed Theological Seminary
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