[b-hebrew] Plural Verbs/Adjectives Modifying Elohim

Kevin Riley klriley at alphalink.com.au
Tue Dec 4 18:37:46 EST 2007

I think the conclusion of there being or not being a Trinity from the Hebrew
linguistic evidence is not possible solely on linguistic grounds.  To
acknowledge that attraction occurs in all languages is not the same as
proving it occurs in any particular instance.  I would also hesitate to call
using a plural verb or adjective in reference to a plural noun a case of 
attraction".  What is a linguistic question is whether the ancient Hebrew
writers did or did not consider 'Elohim to be a plural form.  Assuming they
did [and the evidence is not clear], it still would not prove anything in
regards to the Trinity.
Part of explaining the English examples may be to see that there is/can be a
repetition of "there is/are" when two singular subjects are joined by "and",
and this second "there is" is subsequently deleted.  In that case, no rule
is broken.  
You will find most theological arguments appear "cheezy" when you personally
accept a different conclusion.  Saying so on a list containing different
varieties of more than one faith is a sure way of offending people and
approaches closely to bad manners.
Kevin Riley
-------Original Message------- 
From: Yosef Shalom 
Date: 5/12/2007 8:17:00 AM 
I don't really want to get into an evaluation of the merits of The American
Heritage Book of English Usage per se, but here is the full context of what
Gordon quoted from... 
"“There once was a man from 
” “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe

” Lovers of limericks and nursery rhymes are familiar with the anticipatory
there that functions as a “dummy subject,” delaying the real subject until
the end of the clause. In this use there is usually classified as a pronoun
and is distinguished from its use as an adverb indicating location, as in
There’s the glove I’ve been looking for. 5 
According to the standard rule, when the pronoun there precedes a verb such
as be, seem, or appear, the verb agrees in number with the following
grammatical subject: There is a great Italian deli across the street. There
are fabulous wildflowers in the hills. There seems to be a blueberry pie
cooking in the kitchen. There seem to be a few trees between the green and
me. But people often disregard this rule and use a singular verb with a
plural subject, especially when speaking or when using the contraction
there’s. The Usage Panel dislikes this construction, however. Seventy-nine
percent reject the sentence There’s only three things you need to know about
this book. But when there’s is followed by a compound subject whose first
element is singular, the panel feels differently. Fifty-six percent of the
Usage Panel accepts the sentence In each of us there’s a dreamer and a
realist, and 32 percent more accept it in informal usage. The panel is even
more accepting of the 
Sentence When you get to the stop light, there’s a gas station on the left
and a grocery store on the right; 58 percent accept it in formal usage,
while 37 percent more accept it in informal usage. Although this usage would
seem to violate the rules of subject and verb agreement, the attraction of
the verb to the singular noun phrase following it is so strong that it is
hard to avoid the construction entirely." 
My question is whether this can serve as a good rational hypothesis of how
sometimes in speech the ancient Hebrew when speaking of Elohim might have
not resisted the temptation to modify it with a plural adjective, especially
when that was the normal way to speak of the "elohim" in the surrounding
paganisms that they interacted with on a daily basis. 
If this is a rational and convincing possibility, the attempts to derive
some Trinitarian significance from the appearance of the plurals is a bit 
cheezy." imho 

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list