[B-Greek] 1 Pt 4.2

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Sep 18 13:17:47 EDT 2007

On Sep 18, 2007, at 1:04 PM, Randall Buth wrote:

> This question deals with word order:
> I realize Greeks have flexibility in word order, but
> I'm assuming even then there is some reason for the
> order. Does EIS TO go with BIWSAI? And if so, why is
> BIWSAI between SARKI and CRONON? I can't make sense
> out of it reading it in English.>
> * * *
> Mitch, this is a nice question and it looks like you're already  
> halfway there.
> It helps to read phrases like this, sense unit by sense unit, and to
> consider the relative rank of the pieces in relation to each other. In
> that way the text will open itself up to the reader.
> EIS TO     this opens up the construction, which is typically a
> purpose/future-result clause in KOINE
> MHKETI ANQRWPWN EPIQUMIAIS   this phrase is fronted relative to the
> infinitive, is marked, and seems to restate a result of 'having ceased
> of sin' from the previous context. While some might call this Focus,
> the following marked phrase appears to carry a heightened importance,
> outranking this Contextualization. That is, this phrase serves as a
> contextualizing starting point for the main point to follow. (With the
> phrase itself ANQRWPWN is fronted to the head noun as a subordinated
> focus.)
> ALLA QELHMATI QEOY   this, too, is fronted relative to the infinitive
> and provides a contrastive heightening with the first fronting. I
> would read it as Focus.  The two phrases MHKETI ... and ALLA function
> as a joint fronted pairing, and the whole pair might be said to
> function as a Focus. And ..., we haven't reached the infinitive yet.
> TON EPILOIPON EN SARKI ... 'the remaining (time) in flesh' is also
> fronted before the infinitive and needs a 'relative' saliency reading.
> This relates to the 'flesh' and 'cease' mentioned in the previous
> verse. I read it as a Contextualization to BIWSAI. Two items attract
> attention for the grammarian and reader. a. The overall Focus of the
> paired items comes before this marked Contextualization. This
> (Focus--then Contextualization) is allowed in Greek but is not the
> more universal presentation of pragmatic ordering that goes from
> Contextualization to Focus. Hebrew, for example, does not use such
> orderings (besides abhorring a triple fronting). b. It is specifically
> the time 'in flesh, in the body' that is the link to the previous
> verse and is marked by fronting. The head noun XRONON 'time' was left
> in its unmarked position after the infinitive so that the
> contextualizing link thru SARKI would be clear.
> BIWSAI XRONON  finally the structure is closed off.
> Anyway, this is real Greek, as they say.

Amen, amen! This is how Greek ought to be read and understood,  
semantic phrase by semantic phrase in the sequence in which it was  
originally composed, without knowing precisely what's coming in the  
next phrase but being alert to probabilities based upon what has thus  
far been "laid on the table." If students could habituate themselves  
to doing this all the time, there'd be no need pick out subjects and  
verbs and modifiers with a view to arranging the elements in the  
idiomatic order of a target language, and they would be well on their  
way to what it means to "think in Greek."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Ret)

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