Archive for the ‘Greek grammar’ Category

Stranded in London . . . or not

July 13, 2011

Here’s a Facebook chat from a while back that might amuse some readers.

Real Kyle, a former student of mine, knows this answer in his sleep. Fake Kyle didn’t respond. A few weeks later I saw Real Kyle and confirmed my impression.


NIV 2011

May 12, 2011

A graduate student recently asked me for an opinion on the recent revision of the New International Version of the Bible. I didn’t have much to tell him, but here’s what I said in case others are interested:

I don’t know NIV 2011 as well I probably will after a while, but on the whole I like it. It appears to back away slightly from the dynamic-equivalence approach of NIV 1984, especially in the controversial translation of σάρξ as “sinful (human) nature.” In general it leaves more for the reader to decide, and that’s good.

As for inclusive language, NIV 2011, TNIV, and NRSV all do the same thing in general: inclusive language for people, non-inclusive for God, and that’s good too. But in particular NIV 2011 does something better than NRSV (and TNIV?) when they keep singulars singular. I mean this: to take a Greek original like, “Every man who . . . ” and pluralize it as “All who . . . ” destroys the individual focus of the original.

NIV 2011 avoids pluralizing in those cases by reverting to the “singular they.” Recent research shows that expressions like “Everyone who does this will save their life” did not arise recently out of a concern for inclusive language. Instead, they have shown up in English for hundreds of years, replaced only fairly recently by the pedantic “Everyone who . . . his . . . .” I too am a recent convert to the singular they, and it solves a lot of problems.

On the whole, then, NIV 2011 looks good to me. More info appears here.

UPDATE: Even the King James Bible uses the singular they, twice that I know of:

  • “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:35, emphasis added).
  • “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3, emphasis added).

Hey, it’s in the Bible! The Authorized Version at that!

New edition of the Greek New Testament

November 10, 2010

The Society of Biblical Literature has come out with a new critical edition of the Greek New Testament. It costs US$30 in hard copy, and it’s free online.

Second person singular and plural forms in NT Greek

May 14, 2010

Here’s an article of mine from the Loookout that just came out in Johnson Bible College’s ChurchLink webzine: “By Their Plurals You Shall Know Them.”

Happy Easter

April 3, 2010

A happy Easter to any who read this.

Χριστός ἀνέστη. ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη.

More on Levinsohn

February 25, 2010

Another insight from S. H. Levinsohn’s Discourse Features of NT Greek: Sometimes I’ve wondered about the apparent redundancy when a Gospel narrator writes, “Answering he said,” or the like.  Levinsohn identifies many uses of ἀποκρίνομαι (“answer”) as features of the discourse, used when a speaker wants to take over or reorient the conversation.

For example, in Acts 5.27-29 (pp. 232-3 in Levinsohn), the senior priests warn the apostles not to proclaim Jesus, but “answering (ἀποκριθείς), Peter and the apostles” reject the priests’ orders.  The writer marks the apostles’ redirection of the conversation with a form of ἀποκρίνομαι.Ω

Discourse Features of NT Greek

February 23, 2010

I’m reading Stephen Levinsohn’s Discourse Features of New Testament Greek (2d ed; Dallas: SIL, 2000) and learning some things I didn’t know about how Greek writers patterned their writings.  One thing I kinda-sorta knew but now it’s clearer:  Koine Greek is a VSO language, i.e., a typical sentence has the verb first, followed by the subject and the object.  When a writer moves a word or phrase ahead of the verb, he/she does so to highlight the word or phrase.

  • Hit John the ball.  (Normal order; no emphasis.)
  • The ball hit John.  (Object first; it was the ball that John hit.)
  • John hit the ball.  (Subject first; it was John who hit the ball.)

And that’s only the simplest example.  The book also analyzes the historical present tense of the verb, a complicated issue that I’m still processing, and much else.Ω

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