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

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Wed Oct 14 18:26:12 EDT 2009

On Oct 14, 2009, at 4:16 PM, Elizabeth Kline wrote:

> 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.

I haven't done a search, but I certainly recollect coming across AUTO  
TOUTO TO ... several times in Platonic dialogues -- "this very matter  
of doing 'X'" -- were you only searching Hellenistic era?

With regard to the history of the article, specifically its  
development in a function distinct from a weak demonstrative pronoun,  
I cite an item from a message I posted in 2003 (http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2003-October/026693.html 
Victor Jacobs: ,,,  has anyone interacted with Haiim Rosen's "Early  
Thought in Heraclitus: The Emergence of the Article" ?

CWC: Is this recent? I'd like to know more about it: publishing  
details? It calls to mind a book by Bruno Snell published half a  
century ago and still in print, _Die Entdeckung des Geistes_, English  
version _The Discovery of the Mind_; chapter 10 is entitled, "The  
Origin of Scientific Thought" and concerns the "invention" of the  
article out of the weak demonstrative pronoun hO/hH/TO; my  
recollection is that Snell focused pretty sharply on the fragments of  
Heraclitus in that essay.

As for the question, " ...  where do we look in t he Bible for   
examples of good Greek?" we find the mix of Greek as taught in the  
schools and Greek as spoken and written by those without formal  
schooling. Ordinarily I guess we'd say that "good Greek" is Greek that  
is intelligible and that conforms more or less to standard expected  
patterns of usage. If you want to see a good example of "school  
Greek," look at 2, 3, and 4 Maccabees. Look at Philo, at Josephus.  
There may be several passages in the canonical Greek Bible where usage  
of the article seems questionable, but it can hardly be said that  
there's no rhyme or reason to usage of the article in the Greek Bible.

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

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