[B-Greek] RE The Article / was Zechariah 8:3 (LXX)

Louis Sorenson llsorenson at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 14 17:58:51 EDT 2009

Regarding trying to figure out the article.....

Perhaps we should put Mastery of the Greek article as one of the
last thing a foreign language learner of ancient Greek internalized.
I have been reading a lot of 2nd language introduction books lately.
One of the things I have noted is that, for English, the indefinite 
article "a" is one of the last things "correctly internalized". 

If one is going to find what "correct Greek" usage of the article was,
would not one have to "commit" to a very limited corpus of Greek
literature which was literary and non-Semitic. But even then, one
would need to limit the corpus to native Greek speakers, as Latin
which has no article and other Near Asian languages were also
 frequently the native language of speakers. 

If I were to take a bunch of people from Minnesota, USA, some of them
Somalian, Mexican, Hmung, etc. Even though well educated and most (80%) 
native 2nd generation Minnesotans (Don't ya knoow), they would
have a great difference in how they use the article. 2nd language learners
over age 15 do not acquire language the same way as those who acquire it
at an earlier age.  And perhaps we can say that most Greek writers 
in the NT Period were schooled in Greek at an early age 
(most were probably children of well-to-do families).  Perhaps
 in the future, there will be a way to "filter out" 
such 2nd language blunders in the NT and other relevant texts. 

Personally, I see the "article dilemna" as hopelessly unsolvable. 
Which does not mean we should not try to still figure it out. Perhaps
"author" usage should take precedence here.

Louis Sorenson

PS. The book The Doctrine of the Article by Middleton is available
 on Google Books in full view. 

Elizabeth and others comments as follows......

On Oct 13, 2009, at 6:31 PM, Stephen Baldwin wrote:

Leonard's question coincides with a small amount of reading I've been  
doing in Wallace [GGBB]. The article in Greek seems to be [according  
to Wallace' s intro] a most curious thing. Its uses are not  
immediately apparent to the novice and does not function in the same  
as e.g. English. We see articles  appearing and disappearing seemingly  
arbitrarily. Wallace mentions Middleton's book The Doctrine of the  
Article [150+ yrs old now apparently].

I'd be interested to know the current state of knowledge any comments  
on the treatment of the subject in GGBB -- and also something that  
occurre d to me in the discussion on Zechariah -- namely if the  
Biblical writers are introducing Hebraisms [and Aramaisms] into their  
[Greek] texts does this not present a problem in trying to arrive at a  
definition of "correct " Greek usage? Does this force us to look  
outside of the Biblical texts for correct usage since the LXX is  
[mostly] from Hebrew and chunks of the NT a re [apparently] reporting  
on proceedings conducted in Aramaic [or is the la tter true only of  
the gospels?] Or put another way where do we look in t he Bible for  
examples of good Greek?

Elizabeth Kline replied:

Your confusion may have something to do with what you are reading,  
like an ESL student looking to Gertrude Stein for an understanding of  
the English syntax[1].

A reasonably complete accounting of the use of the Greek article would  
run hundreds of pages. You would need to trace the development from  
speculations about Proto-Indo-European (see ATR), through Homer (see  
Monro), Herodotous, Attic Tragedy, Attic prose (see H.W.Smyth,   
G.Cooper), with a side trip into some of the LXX samples.   
Generalizations about the LXX are generally wrong, the Prophets, the  
Pentateuch, the writings, all different. One Prophet different from  
another prophet, etc. This is Al Pietersma's department. In the NT  
Greek Text you can run across examples of the article which reflect  
usage from any one of the prior periods/dialects, so knowledge of the  
history of the article is essential.

It is really impossible to answer such an open-ended question in this  
forum. Better to present a specific text you want explained.

Here is a sample of the neuter singular article TO w/inf used in a  
manner which would be quite foreign to a native speaker of English but  
it is standard usage in Greek:

2Cor. 7:11 ἰδοὺ γὰρ αὐτὸ τοῦτο τὸ κατὰ  
θεὸν λυπηθῆναι πόσην κατειργάσατο  
ὑμῖν σπουδήν, ἀλλὰ ἀπολογίαν, ἀλλὰ  
ἀγανάκτησιν, ἀλλὰ φόβον, ἀλλὰ  
ἐπιπόθησιν, ἀλλὰ ζῆλον, ἀλλὰ  
ἐκδίκησιν. ἐν παντὶ συνεστήσατε  
ἑαυτοὺς ἁγνοὺς εἶναι τῷ πράγματι.

What I find interesting here is the string AUTO TOUTO TO, I did a  
search of TLG-E for AUTO TOUTO TO + inf, found one sample in the  
second century in Galenus who seemed to be fond of  AUTO TOUTO TO,  
numerous examples.

Elizabeth Kline

  [1]Stein has been revered to as "The Mother of Confusion."
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