[B-Greek] FW: syntax & information structure James 3:2-3 (wasSyntax of Col 1:22)

Steve Runge srunge at logos.com
Tue Aug 18 12:32:07 EDT 2009


Elizabeth wrote:
Alford suggests that TWN hIPPWN  
might mean something like "in the case of horses" thus linking ideas   
CALINAGWGHSAI ... SWMA  from the immediately preceding context.  
Alford's suggestion is interesting in light of proposals in recent text-linguistics about fronted constituents.  S.Levinsohn talks about TWN hIPPWN in Js. 3:3  (Discourse Features SIL, 2000, p63). Levinsohn suggests that TWN hIPPWN is preposed to indicate a shift from talking about people to talking about horses. What I find interesting here, is that Alford in the second half of the nineteenth century had a very similar reading without the trappings of text-linguistics. The terminology is quite different and Levinsohn certainly frames the question differently, nevertheless ... draw  your on conclusions about this.

SER: You seem surprised about the agreement you find in their analysis. IMO, it is foolish to begin anywhere else than with what the "Dead Grammarians" have said. I include Carl and Wallace here out of respect. Most had internalized the language more than I could ever hope. The main problem I have with them is the fuzziness of explanations at times, ones that are dependent on English or Latin. I mean to say that they had a poor medium to communicate their thoughts, not that their thoughts were poorly formed. If you look at the commentaries and grammarians that Levinsohn cites for support, most of them are the same vintage as Alford.

Another related issue with the dead grammarians is their ability to explain WHY they claim what they do. They know a duck when they see one, but at times fail to provide the meaningful characteristics that make a duck a duck and not a seagull or goose. This is the area that I think text-linguistics has the most to offer. This kind of description should, if done properly, allow those following behind to understand the thought process step by step, compared to choosing from a long list of potential syntactic forces. This is particularly the case where there are several complicating factors at work in a single context, as in James 1:22-23. Text-linguistics can help one understand the role played by each component that makes up the whole. Does Alford offer any basis for his conclusion for you to weigh it against the competing alternatives that you cite? You called it interesting, making me think it was the outlier compared to other more modern explanations. Levinsohn reaches the same conclusion, but leaves a trail of bread crumbs. 

Simply having an answer leaves the exegete in a poor position to evaluate the alternatives. Too often, statistical factors are called into play, even in traditional grammar. "The vast majority of the time X functions as Y, therefore in this context the evidence leans toward reading it as Y." The exegesis of hOUTWS in John 3:16 is a good example of such argumentation.

If someone claims a brand new reading that has hitherto been overlooked by scholarship, watch out. Unfortunately, linguistics is being used by some as a hip new way of tickling the ears, being little more than smoke and mirrors with nice poly-syllabic words. Linguistics, if it is used properly, should help you understand what is going on under the hood; it does/should not change the car. In my experience, I have found that any claim I might make on the basis of discourse grammar and linguistics can be supported by the previous claim of a dead grammarian. They knew their stuff, knew whom they were stuffing, and stuffed them with eloquence. It behooves us to linger over this same stuff, as you so often demonstrate in your research. Thanks for passing it along on the list.

Steven Runge
http://www.logos.com/ntdiscoursegrammar
http://www.ntdiscourse.org

-----Original Message-----
From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Elizabeth Kline
Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 3:18 PM
To: greek B-Greek
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] syntax & information structure James 3:2-3 (wasSyntax of Col 1:22)

Carl has cleared up the question about Col 1:22. While doing my research on this I came across a different question. What about preposed genitive nouns modifying a head noun in a following prepositional phrase? Looking into this I came across James TWN hIPPWN in James 3:2-3, a somewhat difficult passage. You will notice that my direction changes here, leaving the original question behind and heads off towards questions about information structure.

.
James 3:2 πολλὰ γὰρ πταίομεν ἅπαντες. εἴ τις ἐν λόγῳ οὐ πταίει, οὗτος τέλειος ἀνὴρ δυνατὸς χαλιναγωγῆσαι καὶ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα.  3 εἰ δὲ τῶν ἵππων τοὺς χαλινοὺς εἰς τὰ στόματα βάλλομεν εἰς τὸ πείθεσθαι αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν, καὶ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα αὐτῶν μετάγομεν.
.
JAMES 3:2 POLLA GAR PTAIOMEN hAPANTES. EI TIS EN LOGWi OU PTAIEI, hOUTOS TELEIOS ANHR DUNATOS CALINAGWGHSAI KAI hOLON TO SWMA. 3 EI DE TWN hIPPWN TOUS CALINOUS EIS TA STOMATA BALLOMEN EIS TO PEIQESQAI AUTOUS hHMIN, KAI hOLON TO SWMA AUTWN METAGOMEN .
In James 3:3 we see an example of a preposed genitive noun TWN hIPPWN.  
One way to read it, TWN hIPPWN modifies TA STOMATA (J.Huther) which is within a prepositional phrase EIS TA STOMATA. Another reading,  TWN hIPPWN modifies TOUS CALINOUS. J.B. Mayor suggests TWN hIPPWN modifies both TOUS CALINOUS and TA STOMATA. Alford suggests that TWN hIPPWN  
might mean something like "in the case of horses" thus linking ideas   
CALINAGWGHSAI ... SWMA  from the immediately preceding context.  
Alford's suggestion is interesting in light of proposals in recent text-linguistics about fronted constituents.  S.Levinsohn talks about TWN hIPPWN in Js. 3:3  (Discourse Features SIL, 2000, p63). Levinsohn suggests that TWN hIPPWN is preposed to indicate a shift from talking about people to talking about horses. What I find interesting here, is that Alford in the second half of the nineteenth century had a very similar reading without the trappings of text-linguistics. The terminology is quite different and Levinsohn certainly frames the question differently, nevertheless ... draw  your on conclusions about this.

.
Elizabeth Kline




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