[B-Greek] The Unattractiveness of Attraction?

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 4 00:41:09 EST 2010

Hi, Stephen,

I have the same subjective reaction as you do.  I am repelled by attraction.  I 
understand why people feel the concept is needed.  Relative pronouns generally 
have antecedents, and they generally agree in gender with those antecedents, and 
when they don't, people feel they have to right to know why they don't.  
Attraction is as good an explanation as any, but I agree that there is something 
vaguely creepy about the term.  All things being equal, becoming the gender you 
are attracted to doesn't make a lot of sense.  I wonder what the Greeks 
themselves called it? 

<If attraction is real, what purpose does it serve?>

In other words, Paul could have written ὅ τι (hO TI) instead of ἥστις, or, for 
that matter, he could have written και τουτο OR και αυτη.  A linguist might say 
that the neuter would be the  "unmarked" form, and that attraction is marked, 
and so adds emphasis.  What's good about saying that something adds emphasis is 
that there is no way to prove or disprove it.

I am 100% sure that if you asked Paul why he sometimes allows his words to be 
attracted and at other times not, he would say "I don't know.  It just sounded 
better to say it this way."

Generally, when people talk about attraction, they talk about a relative being 
attracted to the case of its prior antecedent, so what you have in Phil 1:27-28 
is actually reverse attraction, I think, which is even a more unattractive term. 

"No, good mother.  Here's metal more attractive." 

 Mark L


From: Stephen Baldwin <stbaldwi at hotmail.com>
To: B- Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Fri, December 3, 2010 9:19:46 PM
Subject: [B-Greek] The Unattractiveness of Attraction?

Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am perplexed and perhaps a little cynical about the concept of "attraction" in 
Koine Greek.
One example [among several] occurs in Philippians 1:27-28 where, in Mounce's 
Graded Reader, he quotes Fee (NICNT) saying that the hHTIS in v28 refers back to 
the preceding clause refers back to the whole preceding clause (admittedly I do 
not have Fee's work, I am quoting Mounce quoting Fee) and is in the feminine 
because it is "attracted" to the gender of ENDEIXIS
Preceding clause:
[trust the transliteration attains the minimal acceptable standard]
I have consulted my grammars -- I even hoped, after my recent questions whether 
A.T. Robertson might rise to the occasion, since there is precious little in any 
of my other works on this subject. Alas he sits on the table in accordance with 
Lightman's  suggestion, awaiting a job holding down papers in the next tornado.

So is this thing called "attraction" apparent or real? Perhaps I am 
uncomfortable with the terminology -- it is as if the words have a mind of their 
own rather than a writer deliberately choosing the appropriate and grammatically 
correct lexical form? If attraction is real, what purpose does it serve?
Or is "attraction" a catch-all when all logical, semantic, and grammatical 
attempts to explain the case of a word have failed?
"oh it is not a,b,c,d therefore it is 'attraction'"

Any references, comments, clues welcomed!

Steve Baldwin
stbaldwi at hotmail.com

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