[B-Greek] ALLA (conj.) = "but" / "not only that but also"?

Rick Brannan textgeek+bgreek at gmail.com
Wed Jun 1 12:07:44 EDT 2011


Hi David.

The key to understanding function words (like αλλα ALLA) is to
understand what function they accomplish, not to associate them with
an English gloss like "but". For my money, the chapter on conjunctions
in Steve Runge's Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament is the
best thing one can read to begin to understand the function of these
words and get away from gloss-substitution.

Grammars list αλλα ALLA as primarily "adversative" but the
adversative-ness really comes from the context: the vast majority of
instances of αλλα ALLA happen in a "not this but that" or "this but
not that" kind of context. It's the negation in the context that makes
such instances seem adversative.

A description of my understanding of αλλα ALLA can be found here:
http://www.supakoo.com/rick/papers, look for the one from ETS 2008.
Basically, I think αλλα ALLA indicates contrast, and it corrects
and/or replaces a preceding statement and thus causes the succeeding
item to be prominent. A good example is Mt 5.17, "I did not come to
destroy the law, but [αλλα ALLA] to fulfill it". Contrast between
destroy/fulfill and note the correction from 'destroy the law' to
'fulfill [the law]'.

In preparation for that paper I did evaluate the instances in 2Co 7.11
(also see 1Co 6.11). Here's what I thought about it at that time:

----
Each successive αλλα ALLA introduces a separate thread of contrast in
the overall comparison. The entire verse has one verb, κατεργάζομαι
KATERGAZOMAI, “bring about”, which was also used in verse 10. The
object of the verb is σπουδή SPOUDH, “diligence”. The function of each
αλλα ALLA is to provide contrast between “diligence” (an accusative
singular noun) with each item introduced by αλλα ALLA, each of which
are also accusative singular nouns (some masculine, some feminine).
The initial statement in verse 10 sets the scene; godly grief produces
repentance while worldly grief produces death. Paul’s contention in
verse 10 is that the Corinthians have experienced godly grief (leading
to repentance), not worldly grief (leading to death). Verse 11 is his
evidence of the Corinthians’ experience of godly grief.

Paul shows this by contrasting the diligence or earnestness produced
by godly grief with other effects. Each is a separate contrast,
relying on the verb of the primary clause (κατεργάζομαι KATERGAZOMAI,
“bring about”). Diligence is contrasted with eagerness to clear
oneself, with indignation, with fear, with longing, with zeal, and
with punishment. Each of these contrasts are important to Paul’s
argument. Recall 2Co 7.8, where Paul notes his letter grieved the
Corinthians, but only for a little while because their response to the
godly grief they experienced was repentance. This repentance drove
them to change their action and clear their names. While some may see
progress of action in the nouns used in verse 11, such progression is
rhetorically significant and not a component of the use of αλλα ALLA.
The rhetorical progression would be there whether αλλα ALLA was used
or not. The contribution of αλλα ALLA is in highlighting each of these
actions in contrast to simply being “eager” to bring about the
clearing of their names. Instead, they proceeded in action to clear
their names after coming to repentance. This is the
correction/replacement aspect indicated in each of the αλλα ALLA
instances. Paul’s conclusion, that they have proven themselves
innocent in this matter, shows they have experienced godly grief,
repented, corrected themselves, and have been forgiven.
---

Hope it helps.

Rick Brannan
http://www.supakoo.com/rick/ricoblog
http://www.pastoralepistles.com


2011/5/31 =) <p1234567891 at gmail.com>:
> Dear all,
>
>
> Can I ask what "αλλα" in 2 Cor 7:11, Phlp 1:18, Phlp 3:8 mean? Does it mean
> "furthermore (not only that but also)"?
> [2 Cor 7:11]
> "IDOU GAR AUTO TOUTO TO KATA QEON LUPHQHNAI UMAS POSHN KATEIRGASATO UMIN
> SPOUDHN ALLA APOLOGIAN ALLA AGANAKTHSIN ALLA FOBON ALLA EPIPOQHSIN ALLA
> ZHLON ALLA EKDIKHSIN PANTI SUNESTHSATE EAUTOUS AGNOUS EINAI EN TW PRAGMATI"
> "ιδου γαρ αυτο τουτο το κατα θεον λυπηθηναι υμας ποσην κατειργασατο
> υμινσπουδηναλλααπολογιαναλλααγανακτησιναλλαφοβοναλλαεπιποθησιναλλαζηλοναλλαεκδικησινπαντισυνεστησατεεαυτουςαγνουςειναιεντωπραγματι
> "
> [Phlp 1:18-19]
> "TI GAR PLHN PANTI TROPW EITE PROFASEI EITE ALHQEIA CRISTOS KATAGGELLETAI
> KAI EN TOUTW CAIRW ALLA KAI CARHSOMAI OIDA GAR OTI TOUTO MOI APOBHSETAI EIS
> SWTHRIAN DIA THS UMWN DEHSEWS KAI EPICORHGIAS TOU PNEUMATOS IHSOU CRISTOU"
> "τι γαρ πλην παντι τροπω ειτε προφασει ειτε αληθεια χριστος
> καταγγελλεταικαιεντουτωχαιρωαλλακαιχαρησομαι
> οιδα γαρ οτι τουτο μοι αποβησεται εις σωτηριαν δια της υμων δεησεως
> καιεπιχορηγιαςτουπνευματοςιησουχριστου
> "
> [Phlp 3:7-8]
> "ALL ATINA HN MOI KERDH TAUTA HGHMAI DIA TON CRISTON ZHMIAN ALLA MEN OUN KAI
> HGOUMAI PANTA ZHMIAN EINAI DIA TO UPERECON THS CNWSEWS CRISTOU IHSOU TOU
> KURIOU MOU DI ON TA PANTA EZHMIWQHN KAI HGOUMAI SKUBALA EINAI INA CRISTON
> KERDHSW"
> "αλλ ατινα ην μοι κερδη ταυτα ηγημαι δια τον χριστον ζημιαν αλλα μεν
> ουν καιηγουμαιπανταζημιανειναιδιατουπερεχοντηςγνωσεωςχριστουιησουτουκυριουμουδιονταπανταεζημιωθηνκαιηγουμαισκυβαλαειναιιναχριστονκερδησω
> "
>
> I am inclined to think that "αλλα" in Phlp 1:18 and Phlp 3:8 can be read as
> "but", but is there a reason to consider them as not having adversative
> meaning? Are there any other examples of such usage in the new testament or
> the septuagint apart from 2 Cor 7:11? Or can even 2 Cor 7:11 be understood
> to use "αλλα" for emphasis, such as "but [also] A, but [also] B, ..." or "but
> [what] A, but [what] B, ..." (as some translations seem to imply)?
>
>
> Thanks,
>
> David
> ---
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-- 
He who translates a verse verbatim is a liar.
But he who alters it is a villain and a heretic.
                          -- Talmud Bavli (Qid. 49a)


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