[B-Greek] referential complexity: frames & scenarios and Galatians 6:18

Dr. Don Wilkins drdwilkins at verizon.net
Fri Apr 23 18:49:48 EDT 2010

Very enlightening, both Elizabeth and Yancy (I assume the two of you  
essentially agree). Thank you for taking the trouble to simplify and  

Many years ago I came to the realization that social context, i.e.  
scenario as I understand you describing it, governs the language we  
use. For example I mostly stick to a formal style in b-greek posts,  
but use a conversational style in scenarios that call for it. I  
imagine we all do the same thing. Correct me if I am wrong, but I  
assume that we would say the switch from the language of one scenario  
to another is pretty much automatic, somewhat intentional but largely  
an autopilot change.

So Elizabeth--if I can try to paraphrase you, every element of  
language or communication has its place in a frame, and the  
shortcoming of Smyth et al. is the failure to associate grammatical  
constructions with a given frame or frames. The frames are in turn  
associated with a given scenario or scenarios. Yancy's example of the  
spirit, I take it, presumes that without the prayer scenario, the  
reader might be justified in thinking that "your spirit" is "your own  
piece of the Holy Spirit." So once a particular word or phrase  
activates a known scenario, the reader is tipped off as to what to  
expect, signaling a new frame with its own set of vocabulary, syntax,  
and (possibly) sub-frames. Furthermore, exceptions to expected terms  
and constructions naturally stand out, drawing attention to  
themselves. They can be conscious or even subconscious attempts by  
the writer to engage the reader's attention in some way. Hope I'm  
doing ok so far.

As I'm sure you know, the field of Classics emphasizes two very broad  
"scenarios," if I may use the term: prose and poetry. In Greek there  
are drastic changes for both syntax and vocabulary as one travels  
from one scenario to the other. And of course there are sub-scenarios  
and frames, e.g. prayers and speeches of various kinds. One knows,  
for example, what to expect of prayers to the gods, and some of these  
elements also appear in biblical prayers. I would assume that  
linguists are familiar with prayer scenarios across languages and  
cultures, and are looking for commonalities and differences. So  
perhaps this is common ground.

This brings me to two points for your consideration, assuming I'm on  
the right track. Again, I'm looking for common ground and mutual  
respect between the disciplines. First point: if we are, among other  
goals, trying to distinguish between the routine and non-routine in a  
given frame, it is critical to be familiar with the routine. This is  
a point Steve Runge has often made, and I completely agree with him.  
I would admit to there being commonalities (routine usages) among  
various languages, but I have my own favorite motto: never say never,  
never say always. I can never mind-read an ancient writer. I have  
learned this from experience in reading a lot of Greek, and not  
simply as a theoretical guideline. It seems to me that linguists  
assume a great deal of what the writer means, based on perceptions of  
what should be in a given passage/frame. In my experience it also  
follows that in order to come close to knowing what to expect, you  
have to do a lot of reading in the given language. The alternative to  
that would seem to be to rely upon the instruction of scholars who  
have done the reading, but somehow that seems to come up short. I'm  
not sure why. Elizabeth (and other listers in linguistics) has talked  
about us "internalizing" grammar, and maybe something like  
"internalizing" ancient Greek is the explanation, a goal that can  
only be reached by extensive reading of it. I'm sure Carl has some  
thoughts on this. He can tell others what various constructions etc.  
mean, but I don't think that he could turn them into intellectual  
clones of himself no matter how many lectures he delivered to them.  
So while I'm sure we all agree that there are commonalities for  
scenarios and frames across language groups, I don't see a substitute  
to mastering the individual language for one to do exegesis at the  
expert level. That's at the heart of our mutual respect problem: on  
my side, the arrogant linguists (excluding all the well-meaning ones)  
who seem driven to correct me and others who have immersed themselves  
in Greek literature; on your side, guys like me (and I'm trying to  
change my ways) who won't listen to you no matter what you have to  
offer, simply because you haven't read a corpus of ancient Greek.  
Perhaps a "paying your dues" bias is partly to blame.

Second point, getting back to Smyth. He gives several clear examples  
of the article with multiple nouns (two is the usual number of  
nouns), but of course does not get into framing and scenarios, which  
I think is Elizabeth's criticism. The first two examples happen to  
fit a military scenario, while the other two seem more difficult to  
classify. To me, this is a "plain-vanilla" construction that could  
conceivably occur in any kind of context. Grammatically it is  
straightforward, and explaining its implication is Smyth's job. I can  
imagine how you might say that in this or that frame and scenario the  
writer's point in using the construction is such-and-such, but that  
is purely a matter of interpretation based on context/scenario. Yours  
has to compete with any other viable interpretation. As to the actual  
meaning and/or implication of the construction, however, it is hard  
for me to imagine your defining it essentially in a different way  
(Hoyle's explanation strongly indicates that you wouldn't). What I  
*can* imagine is your saying that in, e.g., Tit. 2:13, Paul uses it  
within a didactic scenario as he frames a kind of carrot-and-stick  
warning, though I'm sure you would use different words. I think that  
for the definition, you could rely on the work of Smyth or other  
traditional grammarians, unless you formulated the definition  
yourself as a result of reading the Greek corpus (which of course is  
what they did). You can point out that the same construction occurs  
in other languages, but of course to establish that it really is the  
"same" construction, you have to prove it from the corpus itself,  
though others may argue that the same can be done from statistical  
sampling. Let me give you one example of the level of inquiry to  
which I'm referring--

During my graduate study I had to do advanced prose composition, and  
my professor made a very memorable observation. He's the one I've  
mentioned in previous posts who had the privilege of doing nothing  
but reading ancient Greek authors 8 hours a day for 10 years, who  
told us that as scholars we could not take any lexicon for granted,  
including LSJ (unabridged). I frequently (no, always) found my  
homework marked somewhere in red with, "I can't find this word in  
Thucydides," and he meant that literally. One day he observed that  
the great historian had used the word GYMNAZW in referring to naval  
exercises. This was all wrong--one of the few times that we were  
knowledgeable enough to have assumed as much--but there it was  
nonetheless. In effect our limited experience had for once  
intersected with his extensive reading. If we ever tried to justify  
our mistakes by quoting Smyth, LSJ, or anyone else, he would politely  
but firmly shove it back in our faces. I imagine that he would say,  
"Never assume; read, read, read!"

Again, this is all in the spirit of mutual respect and acknowledging  
hard-earned expertise. I can see how it might be fruitful to explore  
scenarios and frames, classifying vocabulary and syntax within those  
frames, something that was not done systematically by traditional  
grammarians, though lexicographers have come close to doing it.  
Linguists have been doing this for a long time, so pride of place  
probably goes to them and their terminology. Both sides could keep  
their own terminology or do with it as they wish, and reserve the  
right to use alternatives for terms from the other side that provoke  

Don Wilkins

On Apr 23, 2010, at 10:21 AM, Yancy Smith wrote:

> Elizabeth and Don,
> This is a very interesting discussion. It seem to me that the power  
> of scenario or frame theory, or its near relative relevance theory,  
> is that these give us principled approaches to the big elephant in  
> the room of grammatical-historical exegesis: context. But beyond  
> that, it helps to explain certain grammatical features that are  
> otherwise inexplicable, because context (scenarios, frames, social  
> pragmatics between interlocutors) also have an effect upon grammar.  
> For example on three occasions Paul ends his letters with a  
> statement like this (Gal. 6:18):
> Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ  
> Χριστοῦ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν,  
> ἀδελφοί· ἀμήν.
> Activates a prayer scenario, blessing is a slot within the prayer  
> frame. Indirect language, third person imperatives and references  
> is an appropriate grammatical form in this scenario. We might say,  
> in other contexts, with a different affective import: "well bless  
> your heart!"  So, instead of addressing the Galatians directly,  
> Paul refers to their spirit (RSV “grace... be with your  
> spirit”). While one might surmise this is a fitting ending, since  
> the letter, particularly the last two chapters, has been dealing  
> with the subject of the Spirit, the word "spirit" is not likely  
> referring to the Holy Spirit. Philippians 4:23 also reads: ἡ  
> χάρις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ  
> μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν. And Philemon 25  
> reads, Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ  
> Χριστοῦ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν.  
> What would be the difference between saying, ἡ χάρις  
> τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ  
> ὑμῶν and ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ  
> Χριστοῦ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν? I  
> would say, the bonus in the latter is a slight bit of affective  
> personalization. And the whole sentence serves to close a holy  
> moment of religious communication begun in Gal. 1:1ff with ANATHEMA  
> threats, now resolved, hopefully in blessing. We might translate:  
> The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with each one of you.
> Understanding the scenario and the slots that fit in with it (as  
> well as the interconnecting scenarios) is an important grand  
> metaphor for handling the contextual effects of an utterance. The  
> information contained in this utterance is not new; rather, the  
> utterance is an performative. The words effect the blessing to  
> which they refer, like saying, "I now pronounce you man and wife."  
> In a different context, say, perhaps a seminary student seeking out  
> information about the human spirit or the Holy Spirit would draw  
> very different and potentially bizarre conclusions. In some  
> cultural contexts readers might surmise that Paul is right to bless  
> their spirit with the grace of Christ, because in those contexts it  
> is supposed that the spirit wanders at night and may not be aware  
> of the dangers it may get itself into. Context [frames, scenarios,  
> assumed information, social pragmatics], inference, and a principle  
> that helps the reader calculate the most likely frame evoked by the  
> utterance are all critically important in the deduction of the  
> meaning represented by grammar and syntax.
> Yancy Smith
> Yancy W. Smith, PhD
> World Bible Translation Center
> 4028 Daley Ave., Suite 201
> Fort Worth, TX 76180
> p 817-595-1664
> f 817580-7013
> yancy at wbtc.org
> Be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some  
> kind of battle.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-greek- 
> bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Elizabeth Kline
> Sent: Friday, April 23, 2010 10:56 AM
> To: greek B-Greek
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] referential complexity: frames & scenarios
> On Apr 22, 2010, at 12:00 PM, Dr. Don Wilkins wrote:
>> I infer that you are presenting Carson as a representative NT  
>> scholar, and I'm sure you don't mean to imply that other NT  
>> scholars would necessarily agree with him on all points. But in  
>> any case this is an interesting discussion. Let me ask you to  
>> comment on Smyth's explanations of the phenomenon of the article  
>> with multiple nouns. In sections 1143 and 1144 of his Grammar he  
>> says the following:
>> A single article, used with the first of two or more nouns  
>> connected by *and* [italic in Smyth], produces the effect of a  
>> single notion [several classical citations follow].... Rarely when  
>> the substantives are of different genders [another citation].
>> [1144] A repeated article lays stress on each word: hO QRAiX KAI  
>> hO BARBAROS *the Thracian and the barbarian* D. 23.132 (here the  
>> subject remains the same), hOI STRATHGOI KAI hOI LOCAGOI *the  
>> generals and the captains* X.A. 7.1.13.
>> I apologize for the transliterations and for not including the  
>> first citations. I think we're all familiar with the concept in  
>> 1143. Elizabeth, I again infer that you consider "scenario" a much  
>> better term than Carson's expressions, and if so, you probably  
>> also prefer it to Smyth's "single notion" (I don't think he meant  
>> that as a technical term). But this seems to me a matter of  
>> "semantics," i.e. more or less equal terms for the same  
>> phenomenon. I'm not sure what Hoyle adds to the basic concept, and  
>> perhaps I just need to read him. Would you say that Smyth's are  
>> good explanations couched in old-school terminology, or do you  
>> find them deficient? I certainly won't maintain that Smyth is  
>> perfect.
> Don,
> You said:
>> But this seems to me a matter of "semantics," i.e. more or less  
>> equal terms for the same phenomenon.
> I cannot agree. This is not a discussion about which term is best.  
> I don't care in the least about this or that term. Carsons  
> "package" [see --previous post--- below]  hints at what Hoyle and  
> many others [frames/scenarios have been around for several decades]  
> are saying but Carson doesn't develop a framework for dealing with  
> a "package". It is the concept behind the terms frame and scenario  
> that make it a useful metaphor.
> While I was out yesterday doing other things I used some idle  
> moments to think about a metaphor that might help explain Scenarios/ 
> Frames. A metaphor that is accessible to a lot of people is found  
> in page-layout or word-processing. Frames are like styles working  
> with InDesign or what every you might use to create documents.  
> Working with frames lets you define a complex semantic scenario and  
> give it a label and store it. All you need is the label to activate  
> the frame. In real world language use you don't always need the  
> label. Some attributes in the definition of a frame are more or  
> less uniquely identified with the frame so the mere mention of the  
> attribute will be sufficient to activate the frame. For example,  
> Synagogue might be a slot filler for the location slot in a frame  
> titled Sabbath. By mentioning Synagogue the Sabbath frame is  
> activated without mentioning it by name. In this particular case,  
> the inverse is also valid. Sabbath could be a filler for the the  
> time slot in a frame titled Synagogue. Other related  frame titles  
> would include Torah, Rabbi, Pharisee, Scribe, etc.
> The fact that a slot filler, e.g., Sabbath in the frame Synagogue  
> also functions as a frame title is very important for understanding  
> how semantic relationships are modeled in a frame based approach.  
> What you end up with as a complex network of frames connected to  
> each other. For example a frame title Torah might be a slot filler  
> in the Synagogue frame,  Synagogue a slot filler in the Sabbath  
> frame, Sabbath a slot filler in the Judaism frame and so forth.
> Once again "Cognitive Frames or Scenarios are a formal approach to  
> modeling referential complexity."  Smyth's "single notion" is fine  
> as far as it goes but there is no structural metaphor behind it for  
> modeling referential complexity. Carson's "package" is a little  
> closer to what we are talking about but once again there is no  
> systematic analytical method for doing semantics behind "package".  
> The referent of Frame or Scenario is a systematic analytical method  
> for doing semantics.
> Hoyle is saying something here that is important. Decades ago I  
> worked in a big company which was only interested in making money.  
> Several of my colleagues had been sent away and given a full year  
> of training so that they could put these concepts to use. My work  
> group had a full time consultant working with us daily to help us  
> grasp and employ these concepts. These are not just idle  
> speculations in academia.
> Elizabeth Kline
> --previous post---
> referential complexity: frames & scenarios:
> One of the more enlightened linguist friendly NT scholars,  
> D.Carson, is cited several times by Hoyle [1] under heading 8.2  
> Lexical doublets and scenarios. The citations from Carson show the  
> difficulty that even the best Old School Grammar partitioners have  
> when trying to discuss referential complexity. Caron uses  
> expressions like "same thing", concept, entity, package and  
> probably others.
> Cognitive Frames or Scenarios are a solution to this problem  
> because they represent a formal approach to modeling referential  
> complexity. A frame is something that can be encoded such that a  
> computer can deal with it. It isn't some sort of vague idea like  
> "package" or "concept". This vagueness plagues the discussion of  
> the greek article with multiple substantives. Hoyle, in one of his  
> more difficult to understand sections, "8.2 Lexical doublets and  
> scenarios" sets out to restate the problem in terms of scenario  
> theory. I had print this section so I could read it multiple times.  
> I am still digesting it. Hoyle doesn't set out to disagree with  
> Carson, but he uses a model that as far as I know Carson has not  
> employed.
> An example that Hoyle cites from Carson is
> 1Th. 2:12 παρακαλοῦντες ὑμᾶς καὶ  
> παραμυθούμενοι καὶ μαρτυρόμενοι  
> εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς ἀξίως τοῦ  
> θεοῦ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν  
> ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν.
> Carson comments:
> "we are not to understand that kingdom and glory are identical, but  
> that “kingdom and glory” must be taken together as a package, in  
> this case a package referring to the eschatological blessing  
> comprehensively summarized by the two nouns in tandem."
> Hoyle's response:
> "I agree with Carson, and suggest that conjoined nouns with a  
> single article always open up a single scenario which includes both  
> concepts."
> The difference between Carson and Hoyle is not just terminology.  
> Carson's "package" is an ad hoc label whereas Hoyle's "scenario"  
> points to a developed structured approach to semantic analysis. In  
> other words, given some time and effort, the linguist can define  
> the Scenario/Frame in a formal manner that could be used in an  
> "expert system" (or whatever these are called now days) for dealing  
> with NT semantics. Furthermore, the concept "scenario" once it is  
> understood, will remove a lot of confusion from the discussion of  
> how the greek article is used with complex referents.
> A second longer example from Hoyle p233f :
> ----block quote begins here---
> For example, the Pharisees and Sadducees are mentioned together six  
> times in the Gospels, all in Matthew. Only once do they have  
> separate articles, where they are in different participant roles:
> Matthew 22:34a
> Οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι ἀκούσαντες ὅτι  
> ἐφίμωσεν τοὺς Σαδδουκαίους >>hOI DE  
> In all other cases they are combined as a single group, members of  
> the main religious sects of Judaism, functioning together in the  
> same role as “opponents of Jesus”, for example (referents  
> bolded, evidence for combined role underlined):
> Matthew 3:7: generation of vipers
> Ιδὼν δὲ πολλοὺς τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ  
> Σαδδουκαίων ἐρχομένους ἐπὶ τὸ  
> βάπτισμα αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς,  
> Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν >>IDWN DE POLLOUS TWN FARISAIWN  
> Matthew 16:1: testing, asking for a sign
> Καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ  
> Σαδδουκαῖοι πειράζοντες  
> ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν σημεῖον ἐκ τοῦ  
> οὐρανοῦ ἐπιδεῖξαι αὐτοῖς >>KAI  
> Matthew 16:6: Beware the leaven
> Ὁρᾶτε καὶ προσέχετε ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης  
> τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων >>hORATE  
> Matthew 16:11: Beware the leaven
> προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν  
> Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων >>PROSECETE DE APO  
> the teaching
> ἀλλὰ ἀπὸ τῆς διδαχῆς τῶν  
> Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων >>ALLA APO THS  
> Carson (1984:85) cites Acts 23:7 as the only place this phrase  
> τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων >>TWN  
> FARISAIWN KAI SADDOUKAIWN<< occurs outside Matthew. Here again,  
> although the following text emphasizes the dissension between the  
> groups, they are introduced together in the same scenario role as  
> “council members”, referring back to 23:1 “the council”.  
> This passage contains the only other New Testament occurrences of  
> Pharisees and Sadducees in the same verse, i.e. 23:6 and 23:8,  
> where the two groups are explicitly contrasted.
> Similarly, the scribes and the Pharisees are mentioned together 21  
> times in the Gospels. They are distinct in nature, one being an  
> occupation, the other a religious sect, yet on three occasions,  
> where there is emphasis on these people as the superreligious and  
> hyperlegalistic types, they are conjoined:
> Matthew 5:20: unless your righteousness exceeds
> ἐὰν μὴ περισσεύσῃ ὑμῶν ἡ  
> δικαιοσύνη πλεῖον τῶν γραμματέων  
> 234
> Matthew 12:38: we want to see a sign
> Τότε ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ τινες τῶν  
> γραμματέων καὶ Φαρισαίων λέγοντες,  
> Διδάσκαλε, θέλομεν ἀπὸ σοῦ  
> Luke 14:3: Is it lawful?
> καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν  
> πρὸς τοὺς νομικοὺς καὶ Φαρισαίους  
> λέγων, Ἔξεστιν τῷ σαββάτῳ  
> θεραπεῦσαι ἢ οὔ >>KAI APOKRIQEIS hO IHSOUS EIPEN  
> Matthew mentions scribes and Pharisees together in Matthew 23:2,  
> 13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29, as two distinct but known groups “the  
> scribes and the Pharisees”, for example:
> Matthew 23:2
> Ἐπὶ τῆς Μωϋςέως καθέδρας ἐκάθισαν  
> οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι >>EPI  
> Matthew 23:13
> Οὐαὶ δὲ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ  
> Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί >>OUAI DE hUMIN, GRAMMATEIS  
> One might have expected the scribes and Pharisees to be conjoined  
> as a doublet with a single article in 23:2, since they are accused  
> of the same sins. However, in Matthew 23:6 the Pharisees are  
> accused separately, Φαρισαῖε τυφλέ >>FARISAIE  
> TUFLE<< ‘Blind Pharisee’, which suggests that the two groups are  
> not being treated as an undifferentiated whole.
> All other references to scribes and Pharisees are as two groups,  
> either both anarthrous Φαρισαῖοι καὶ  
> γραμματεῖς, Φαρισαῖοι καὶ  
> KAI NOMODIDASKALOI<< (Matthew 15:1; Luke 5:17) or both arthrous.  
> Here there is no set order for the two groups, i.e. Pharisees and  
> scribes (Matthew 15:1; Mark 7:1, 7:5; Luke 5:17, 5:30, 7:30, 15:2),  
> scribes and Pharisees (Luke 5:21, 6:7, 11:53).
> The Pharisees are also mentioned with the Herodians (Mark 12:13,  
> each noun with the article), and with the chief priests. In the  
> latter case the order is always “the chief priests and the  
> Pharisees” but both nouns have the article (Matthew 21:45; John  
> 7:32, 11:47, 11:57, and 18:3) except for John 7:45 which has the  
> one article τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ  
> propose, can be explained by the anaphoric reference to 7:32 where  
> the two distinct groups, in cooperation, send attendants to arrest  
> Jesus, and here those attendants report back to their senders, now  
> conceptualized as a single group since they function together as  
> opponents of Jesus in this paragraph.
> ----block quote ends here---
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