[B-Greek] The elusive language of grammar (was '"result" expressed by adverbial participles?')

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Tue Apr 20 10:39:16 EDT 2010

Dear Carl,

I am reminded of the following quote:

If you are unable to speak in terms that the masses are able to understand, then
you really have not understood the subject you are talking about.

This is a constant struggle to do even with telling others about the gospel; let
alone talking about Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic or ....

En Xristwi,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carl Conrad" <cwconrad2 at mac.com>
To: "Mark Lightman" <lightmanmark at yahoo.com>
Cc: "B-Greek" <B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 6:48 AM
Subject: [B-Greek] The elusive language of grammar (was '"result" expressed by
adverbial participles?')

> On Apr 19, 2010, at 8:15 PM, Mark Lightman wrote:
> > Carl wrote:
> >
> > <I would raise the question -- rhetorically, of course, but with purpose or
> > with  result -- take your choice ;-) Are these distinctions offered by
Wallace in
> > GGBB more convincing or more readily intelligible than those in the
> > treatises of academic Linguists that have been recommended in this forum?>
> >
> > I guess not, no.  Neither groups of Analytic distinctions are convincing or
intelligible.  Neither,
> > I fear, will lead to Fluency, nor have much value once Fluency is obtained.
Neither will cause
> > you to live longer.  It will just seem longer.  :)
> > Mark L
> The question was posed rhetorically, but it is a real question and an
important one
> that I've been pondering increasingly of late, partly as a consequence of our
> efforts to talk intelligently about the positives and negatives of traditional
Greek grammar and
> Linguists' explanations of how Greek works.
> Many of us agree (and perhaps more do NOT) that ancient Greek pedagogy should
> "fluency" or "internalization" of the language in students as its objective.
Many of us are
> also convinced (but probably a minority in this instance also) that
grammatical analysis
> does NOT help very much if at all in bringing about "flency" or
"internalization" -- in
> the sense of ability to read and comprehend written Greek or hear and
comprehend spoken
> Greek readily.
> NEVERTHELESS -- B-Greekers keep meeting like this, and it's a primary reason
for the
> very existence of the B-Greek forum, because -- we want to talk with each
other about
> the meaning of particular Biblical Greek texts. How are we to do that? What is
the metalanguage
> that we are to use to discuss such questions as "expressing result by
adverbial participles"?
> I have made no secret of the fact that I find Smyth's grammar, although its
focus is on
> classical Attic Greek (with helpful remarks on Homeric and other dialects) the
single most
> useful resource for reference to in discussion of the kinds of questions that
are most often
> raised on B-Greek; I also find BDF helpful quite often. I don't really much
like GGBB,
> precisely because it endeavors -- excessively, in my opinion -- to categorize
and subcategorize
> usages in terms of contextual factors, thereby inventing new terms and
formulating elaborate
> explanations of usage, some of which it is too easy to disparage and satirize
(e.g. "aporetic
> genitive"). On the whole, however, I have said before that I really think
Wallace's GGBB
> is, on the whole, a useful reference work and one that surely seems right more
often than
> wrong in its judgment -- but I still don't really like it. The big grammar of
AT Robertson
> is one that most of us (but probably not all)  esteem highly, but we would
not, I think,
> ever imagine that it's the "last" or even the "latest" word on grammatical
> There are those who have very little use for any of these resources and look
primarily to
> Linguistics for the formulation of useful explanations of how Biblical Greek
works, even
> if they readily admit that Linguists employ a dismaying range of glossolalia
that is
> offensive to the eye and ear and that requires of non-specialists an
investment of time
> and effort to understand that many are just simply unwilling to pay. Certainly
> who are content with interlinears or parsed Greek texts and translations to
convey the
> sense of the Greek are not going to invest much either in traditional grammar
or in
> Linguists' analyses of how Greek works; they are content to rely upon what is,
> essentially, the predigested interpretative work done by others.
> Our problem is that we really do not have a satisfactory language or shared
> understanding for sharing with each other our understanding of how the
> of the texts we are examining work. Does anyone think that we really do have
> either of these things? My own deeply disturbing conviction is that we tend to
> talk about Biblical Greek passages by employing all-too-vaguely-grasped terms
> and accountings for syntactic relationships and lexical identifications that
will not
> stand up to even a very mild Socratic elenchus ("What do you REALLY mean when
> you use words like 'tense' or 'voice'?"). In my opinion, for what it's worth,
> is the REAL "elephant on the list."
> On the other hand, if all of us B-Greekers were, with respect to talking about
> Biblical Greek, "of one language, and of one speech," would there be a reason
> for the existence of B-Greek?
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
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3:19 PM

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