Sunday, September 05, 2004

RB15568-Rob #8: The PPA and Adverbial Phrases (cont.) 

(15568) Robert Bowman [Sun Sep 5, 2004 12:02 am] (John 8:58 - Rob #8: The PPA and Adverbial Phrases (cont.))


Thank you for your reply.

You had written:

Our readers may be puzzled why you left Moule out of your survey, even though you cite his examples among the biblical passages. So let me inform them that Moule provides no definition, but simply lists examples under the heading "Present of Past Action still in progress," with a reference to Burton, whose comments you do quote.

You are correct. Moule's lack of any comment, definition, or description of the PPA, beyond the heading, is precisely why I did not quote him when surveying "what Greek grammars say about the PPA."

In my analysis of what the Greek grammars say about the PPA, I had offered four observations. You agreed with the first (but with a proviso concerning translation, about which you will have more to say later). So let us go to the second. I had written:

***Second, most of these grammars state that an adverbial expression modifies the present-tense verb. These are described as "expressions denoting past time" (Goodwin), "adverbial expressions denoting past time" (Jannaris), "an adverbial expression denoting duration and referring to past time" (Burton), "an adverb of time (or adjunct)" (Robertson), "an adverb of time" (Dana and Mantey; Brooks and Winbery), "a definite or indefinite expression of past time" (Smyth), "a temporal expression [that] indicates the intended period of the past" (BDF), "a specific phrase expressing the past aspect" (Greenlee), "an adverbial phrase or other time-indication" (Fanning), "an expression of either past time or extent of time with past implications" (McKay), and "some sort of temporal indicator, such as an adverbial phrase" (Wallace). Of those who offer any description of the PPA beyond a title, only Winer, Turner, and Young fail to mention this temporal adverbial expression.***

I have reproduced the entirety of the above paragraph for ease of reference, because I will be referring back to it repeatedly in what follows. You commented:

2. "Most of these grammars state that an adverbial expression modifies the present-tense verb" -- you count all but three grammars in support of this conclusion. But this is a miscount, since Brooks & Winbery expressly say "a verb alone is sometimes sufficient" and Fanning adds "or other time-indication." You apparently interpret the latter as equivalent to "adverbial expression," as you do in the cases of Goodwin ("expressions of past time"), Smyth ("expression of past time"), BDF ("temporal expression"), Greenlee ("a specific phrase"), McKay ("expression of past time"), and Wallace ("some sort of temporal indicator"). I would contend that you have artificially narrowed the meaning of what these grammarians say, which would include in most cases a number of possible direct or indirect modifiers of the sense of the main verb. One could argue that any word, phrase, or
clause that is construed as modifying the force of a verb is for that reason "adverbial" in the broad sense, but as we shall see, you wish to lead us into a much narrower sense.

This criticism seems damaging unless you read my four points together and understand their logical sequence and relationship. In this second point, I was not addressing the issue of whether the grammars were saying that such adverbial expressions always accompanied a PPA verb. I addressed that question in my third point. Therefore, your claim that I "miscounted" because the Brooks/Winbery grammar allows exceptions jumps the gun because it actually relates to the third point, where of course I duly noted the Brooks/Winbery position. Nor was I addressing the issue of the grammatical form of this "adverbial" expression (word, phrase, or clause) in my second point; rather, I addressed that issue in my fourth point. Thus, the fact that five of the
twelve sources do not use the term "adverb(ial)" and that two of the seven that do use that term also add some vaguer description (Fanning and Wallace) is only relevant to the fourth point, not to this second point.

On my third point, you wrote:

3. There are varying assessments among these grammars of the necessity of an adverbial to identify the PPA. You say 8 of 15 "regard the use of such an adverbial as part of the definition of a PPA." So roughly half of the grammars have this view, while others are aware of exceptions, which you examine later. I certainly agree that some sort of adverbial expression is frequently what indicates to the reader that a PPA is being employed. I am not sure of the value of investigating PPAs without adverbial expressions since the case we are trying to settle, John 8:58, has such an adverbial expression.

Unfortunately, you missed from your review here my final two sentences under this third point:

***It would seem from this review that clear-cut examples of the PPA will have such an adverbial. We can investigate whether the PPA ever occurs without such an adverbial on a case-by-case basis.***

Please notice that I did NOT claim here that the PPA must be accompanied by an adverbial but that the "clear-cut examples of the PPA will have such an adverbial." The mode of argument here is one of assigning burden of proof (as you once indicated toward the very end of your post), not a claim that exceptions are impossible (as you more often seem to represent me as arguing).

That this point is relevant to John 8:58 is evident when one considers the importance you and other advocates of the PPA interpretation of John 8:58 have attached to the alleged exceptions.

Regarding my fourth point, you wrote:

4. "By an 'adverbial expression' of past time most of these grammars evidently mean an adverb or adverbial phrase." This is a wholly unwarranted conclusion.

Your claim that my conclusion is "wholly unwarranted" is *at best* an overstatement, at worst simply wrong, as I shall explain. You continued:

You find only 3 of 15 that mention an "adverb" (Robertson, Dana & Mantey, Brooks & Winbery), and forget to include in these references the accompanying "usually," "generally," and "often," they respectively say, as mentioned in your previous point.

You are once again misreading my four points. The fourth point here has to do with what the grammars mean by "adverbial expression" or whatever term they use, not with how regularly the grammars say that such an expression occurs with a PPA (the issue covered with sufficient nuance under point #3).

You continued:

You also say that 2 of 15 say "adverbial phrase" (Fanning, Wallace), without noting that Fanning adds "or other time indication," and Wallace's statement is actually "some sort of temporal indicator, such as an adverbial phrase." This way of reporting the support for your conclusion is misleading, and even in this way you produce 5 of 15 grammars that happen to mention adverbs or adverbial phrases as the example that comes first to mind of the range of possible modifiers of the verb (scarcely "most"). The other grammars, as I pointed out above, use broader expressions for the modifying element, which include "adverbial expression" (Jannaris, Burton), "expression of past time" (Goodwin, Smyth, McKay), "temporal expression" (BDF), "time indication" (Fanning), "time element" (Young), "temporalindicator" (Wallace), and "a specific phrase" (Greenlee). Your conclusion, therefore, has no basis in the
statements of these grammarians.

The crux of your argument here is that the grammars that don't say either "adverb" or "adverbial phrase" cannot count in support of my conclusion. You even exclude Jannaris and Burton, who both use the term "adverbial expression," since "expression" is vaguer than "phrase." You think that the use of this vaguer term is "broader" than referring to both adverbs and adverbial phrases and specifically that it allows for the subordinate clause "Before Abraham came into being" to be included in the definitions that these grammars give. However, the term "adverbial expression" is nicely suited to refer to both adverbs and adverbial phrases, and this is precisely what Jannaris and Burton appear to mean by the term. On the other hand, CLAUSES, which you want to include, are not plausibly included under the rubric of "expressions." One cannot plausibly argue that the clause "Before Abraham came into being" constitutes an "expression."

That my interpretation of these grammars is not, after all, "wholly unwarranted" or completely without basis is evident when one looks at the specific examples that these grammars give. You indirectly acknowledged this consideration when you wrote:

One might give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that your interpretation of these broader expressions was narrowed by the examples the grammarians go on to cite. You in fact say, "Most of the examples that the grammars cite . . . have such adjuncts [which you define as 'a phrase or group of words that are not strictly necessary for the sentence or clause to be complete'] or adverbial phrases. The only grammars that evidently include whole clauses are BDF and McKay (and only because they count John 8:58 as a PPA)."

Of course, you go on to pull on some threads in my comments here in order to unravel the argument, and I will respond to that line of argument below. First, though, I must point out that my iterpretation rests on three "legs":

(1) the more specific terms "adverb" and "adverbial phrase" that several of the grammars use
(2) the fact that the term "expression" easily fits single adverbs and adverbial phrases but not whole clauses
(3) the fact that most of the grammars that use these vaguer terms do not apply them to whole clauses

The first leg is not in dispute, and I have just defended the second leg. Now let us consider the third. You wrote:

First of all, "most of the examples" is not "all of the examples," and even one example of a different sort invalidates your arbitrary interpretation of the deliberately chosen broad expressions of these grammarians.

Your objection would be quite fair IF the argument I had presented was of the form "most proves all." However, it was not. Rather, my argument was that most of the grammars appear to refer to adverbs or adverbial phrases, because most of the examples they gave were in fact adverbs or adverbial phrases. Thus, I wrote (emphasis added):

***Finally, by an "adverbial expression" of past time MOST of these grammars evidently mean an adverb or adverbial phrase.. MOST of the examples that thegrammars cite, as we will see, have such adjuncts or adverbial phrases.***

For an easy overview of the evidence supporting this claim, see my paper "Greek Grammars and the PPA" in the Files section of this discussion group. I have revised that paper to include a table listing the descriptions given in the grammars of the temporal expression and their examples that use temporal subordinate clauses. The only text these grammars cite in which a clause supposedly fulfills this function is John 8:58!

You continued:

Second, you say only BDF and McKay cite the clausal example of John 8:58, when in fact Winer and Turner also do.

Your objection here subtly yet significantly misunderstands my argument. Winer and Turner say nothing at all about expressions of past time accompanying the PPA verb. (This is one of the weaknesses of their treatment.) Of those that say anything about such expressions in connection
with the PPA, BDF and McKay are the only ones that cite a clausal example, and in both cases, it happens to be John 8:58.

You wrote:

Third, you say that BDF and McKay include whole clauses "only because they count John 8:58," suggesting there are no other examples of this form, when in fact your other grammars cite Acts 27:33 (Fanning, Wallace) and 2 Peter 3:4 (Winer, Robertson, Turner, Fanning), both of which involve adverbial clauses. So these five other grammarians also cite sentences involving adverbial clauses, like BDF and McKay, and examples other than John 8:58.

Your objection here suffers from at least two distinct flaws.

(1) My statement that BDF and McKay include whole clauses "only because they count John 8:58" was a comment about those two grammars only. It simply meant that the only clausal examples either one of them gave was John 8:58.

(2) As I have already noted, counting Winer and Turner is a mistake because neither one says anything at all about temporal expressions of any kind.

I will comment on Acts 27:33 and 2 Peter 3:4 later in this post.

You wrote:

Fourth, it is true of Greek, as it is of English, that simple adverbs and adverbial phrases are used much more commonly that more complex adverbial clauses. So in any sample, the number of examples of the latter will be statistically small. So the fact that any examples happen to be mentioned in a sample of a half-dozen is statistically significant.

This is in my judgment the best of your four points here. I am not sure how to quantify the relative frequency of simple adverbs and adverbial phrases in relation to adverbial clauses, but I'm guessing you are probably right that the latter are significantly less frequent. So if there are real examples of subordinate clauses qualifying a present-tense verb to make it function as a PPA, well then, there are such examples. Remember, all I claimed was that the clear-cut examples of the PPA in the grammars are those with adverbs and adverbial phrases, putting the burden of proof on those who would argue that verbs not having such modifiers are also examples of the PPA. I am willing to entertain suggested examples on a case-by-case basis, as I also stated.

On the other hand, if most of the grammars don't refer to a subordinate clause as functioning in this way in examples of the PPA (true), and if most of the grammars use terms that one would not normally apply to clauses (also true), then the conclusion still stands that most of the grammars don't implicitly include clauses. This is the point that I made, and as best I can see, it does indeed still stand.

You wrote:

For these four reasons, I cannot accept that your review of the examples provided by the grammars gave sufficient cause for you to arbitrarily narrow the meaning of their description of the modifying element in PPAs, a narrowing that strives to eliminate adverbial clauses from inclusion. Since the express purpose of your line of argument is to remove John 8:58 from the PPA category, this is a very suspicious and, may I say, unfortunate turn in your presentation, which has all the appearance of reasonable summation when in fact it significantly misrepresents the material
before you. Your fourth conclusion, therefore, will not stand, and should be

I hope I have made clear why I do not find your critique sound. I did not claim that all of the grammars allowed only adverbs and adverbial phrases to mark a present-tense verb as a PPA. Had I made such a claim, your critique would have merit. What I claimed was that most of the grammars appear to refer to adverbs and adverbial phrases as performing this function, a conclusion borne out by both the language they use and the examples they give.

You wrote:

This will be further demonstrated by looking at your examples. As Wallace states, "Depending on how tightly one defines this category, it is either relatively rare or fairly common." The range of defining the PPA to which he refers is what is involved in the "contested" examples in your list.

To anticipate a point to which we may need to return later, I would remind you that in my 1989 book I did allow that by a broader definition of the PPA one might plausibly categorize EIMI in John 8:58 as a PPA (_Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John_, 111-12). In the fifteen years since I published that book, not one critic of my position on the PPA has given any attention to that observation. They have uniformly criticized my position as though I were maintaining that by no plausible definition of the PPA could John 8:58 be classified as an example.

You wrote:

You say you omit John 2:9, to which I referred in a previous post as a PPA, because Winer expressly excludes it as a case of "using the present tense in place of a past tense where this is the result of mixing direct and indirect discourse," and that Robertson elsewhere refers to the clause in question as an "indirect question retaining present indicative." The fact that Winer takes the trouble to expressly exclude it indicates that someone had proposed to include it (although I stumbled upon it by chance). I do not agree with Winer and Robertson that indirect discourse is involved here at all. Nothing is said here of the subject saying anything, but rather knowing something.

Your inference that Winer excluded texts like John 2:9 because "someone had proposed to include it" is unwarranted. Winer does not cite any secondary source with which he is disagreeing on this point. He may have included John 2:9 and similar texts because he anticipated someone misclassifying them. We do not know what was in his mind, but what is in his book categorically rejects such a classification.

I don't always agree with Winer, but on this point he is definitely correct. Greek uses what we would call indirect discourse with verbs of knowing, thinking, hearing, and seeing, as well as verbs of saying. Instead of writing, "Jason thought Winer was wrong," a Greek could write the equivalent of "Jason thought Winer is wrong." Instead of writing that the steward "did not know from where it WAS," John wrote that the steward "did not know from where it IS." Look at Winer's other examples. Here are just two of them:

John 4:1 -- "the Pharisees heard that Jesus IS MAKING AND BAPTIZING more
disciples than John."

Mark 5:14 - "they came to see what it IS that happened."

Classifying such texts as PPAs would be a mistake (see also Wallace, 537-39).

You continued:

May I also point out that several of the examples you include involve either direct or indirect discourse, and so might be as arguably excluded as John 2:9. So you are inconsistent in applying this as a basis to exclude my earlier example.

Only two of the texts I include as genuine PPA texts in the NT appear to fit this category. John 5:6 is a clear-cut example of this indirect speech form (literally, "knowing that he IS that way (ECEI) a long time already"). If we did not have the adverbial phrase "a long time already," we would translate it "knowing that he WAS that way" (in recognition of the indirect speech construction). However, the adverbial marks the present-tense verb as a PPA. If we did not have the participle "knowing," we would translate the rest, "he HAS BEEN that way a long time already" (in recognition of the PPA). The text uses both the indirect speech construction AND the PPA, which is why we translate it, "knowing that he HAD BEEN that way a long time already."

The only other example is the second present-tense verb in 2 Corinthians 12:19. The question literally reads, "Are you thinking all this time that we are defending ourselves to you?" We properly translate the first present-tense verb "Have you been thinking" because of the adverb PALAI, which marks it as a PPA. The second present-tense verb, strictly speaking, is not a PPA, but takes the temporal aspect of the first present-tense verb according to the indirect speech construction that Winer identifies.

My position here is not at all "inconsistent." I did not claim that texts using indirect speech could not include examples of the PPA. I simply claimed that these were two different grammatical phenomena. The above two examples nicely illustrate that fact.

You wrote:

My research leads me to believe that the idiomatic use we are calling the PPA
includes static, depictive expressions of identity that involve references to
origin such as this. Nevertheless, since none of the grammars eferenced includes
John 2:9 as an example (although obviously none of them intends to provide an
exhaustive set of examples), I have no problem leaving it aside here.

I hope that my analysis confirms to you the wisdom of doing so.

You wrote:

You divide all the examples into "contested" and "uncontested," which is a dubious move since what is involved in "contesting" classification of pecific examples as PPAs is how many different subdivisions a grammarian trots out to categorize present tense verbs. In other words, it is not so uch a matter of contesting as it is of how finely the grammarian is splitting hairs. Many of these subdivisions are questionable as distinct gammatical functions, and are multiplied somewhat arbitrarily. So the fact that some grammarians prefer to put forward categories such as "descriptive present" or "static present" only raises the question whether they have subdivided the PPA in a way that other grammarians don't see as valuable (and you yourself dismiss the "static present" as a separate category when it serves your purposes).

I begin with your last comment. I did not dismiss the "static present" as a separate category, and certainly not because it "serves my purposes." What Dana and Mantey call the "static present" is what grammarians today usually call the *gnomic* present (e.g., Moule, Wallace). My disagreement with Dana and Mantey was regarding their choices of examples for this usage, not their distinguishing it from the PPA.

There is a clear difference between "the descriptive present" (as Robertson calls it) and the PPA. Examples of the descriptive present are "we are perishing" (Mark 4:38), "our lamps are going out" (Matt. 25:8), "how can you turn back" (Gal. 4:9), and "the light is already shining" (1 John 2:8). To dismiss any functional distinction between this usage and the PPA requires you to argue that all of these verbs should be translated using a form of the past tense ("we have been perishing," "how can you have been turning back," etc.).

When a grammarian identifies the PPA and distinguishes it from another category, especially one recognized by other grammarians, and chooses to classify a particular text in that other category rather than as a PPA, it seems reasonable to me to say that he has "contested" the categorization of the text as a PPA. When the grammarian actually acknowledges that others categorize the text as a PPA and then rejects that classification, the term "contested" is, well, applicable beyond reasonable contesting.

You wrote:

I do agree that customary, procedural, or iterative statements are not PPAs, since they lack any contextual modification that would indicate past time. So I agree that 2 Cor. 12:9 should be set aside.

This means that you have now acknowledged that the one example that Brooks/Winbery give is invalid. It also means that your complaint above about the grammarians "splitting hairs" only goes so far, since it doesn't help retain 2 Corinthians 12:9 as a valid example of the PPA.

You wrote:

In any case, going along with you for the sake of argument, you identify 11 of 17 examples cited in the grammars as "uncontested," and point out that "in each of these 11 uncontested examples of the PPA, the present-tense main verb is modified by a temporal adverb or adverbial phrase." Actually, it's 10 of 17, since Dana & Mantey contest themselves on the proper categorization of John 15:27.

Really, who is now splitting hairs? If Dana & Mantey classify John 15:27 under two headings-which we may all agree is confusing-they are not contesting either one. By "contested" I meant classifying the text under a different category INSTEAD of as a PPA. All other texts are by definition "uncontested."

You wrote:

But your conclusion is also in error since one of the "uncontested" examples, Acts 27:33, actually involves an adverbial clause. You cite only the phrase "a fourteenth day today," leaving out its full clause: "observing a fourteenth day today without food" which includes a present participle. This whole clause is the depictive complement to the main verb "You have kept/continued/completed." They have not "kept/continued/completed a fourteenth day," but they have kept/continued/completed OBSERVING a fourteenth day."

The sentence literally reads, "A fourteenth today day watching without food you are going nothing having eaten." The first participle is present tense (as you noted). Translators usually treat the adverbial expression "a fourteenth day today" as if it were denoting a period beginning in the past and continuing up to the moment of speaking. Taking it this way makes it modify the present-tense participle, marking it as a PPA. That's why most English Bibles translate it "have been watching" or the like. The adjective "without food" is the adjectival complement of the main verb "going." Translators translate the main verb as a past tense to agree with the temporal aspect they have assigned to the participle. If we didn't have that adverbial expression, we would translate the two verbs as present tenses: "While you watch, you are going without food" (or something along those lines). The only past-tense verb is the second participle, which ends the sentence. We should probably construe it as the ground of the main clause: "because you have eaten nothing."

However, it is my opinion that identifying the present participle or the main verb as a PPA is a mistake. A more accurate translation would be something like the following: "You are going a fourteenth day today without food while you watch, since you have eaten nothing." There are only two ways to turn the verbs into PPAs, and both require ignoring the actual grammar of the sentence. One way is the way English Bibles usually translate it: "Today is the fourteenth day you have been watching and going without food, having eaten nothing" (the NKJV, NASB, and NRSV have something like this). This translation turns "Today" into the subject of the sentence, which clearly is wrong. (The general sense of the sentence is of course the same, but we are focusing on the function of the verbs in Greek.) The other way to turn the verbs into PPAs would be to turn "a fourteenth day today" into "for fourteen days" (the NIV and NLT take this approach).

So, being the independent-minded person that I am, I disagree with the two grammarians (Fanning and, following him, Wallace) who classify Acts 27:33 as a PPA. Their classification is not misleading as far as the meaning of the sentence as a whole, but it is a misclassification of the way the present-tense verbs function in the sentence. If you are inclined to side with Fanning and Wallace, I would say that the only coherent way to do so would be to take "a fourteenth day today" as modifying both the present participle and the present indicative verbs, as most translations do.

You wrote:

You go on to say that "two of the contested examples also have such an adverbial phrase." Again, you have failed to note that one of these examples, 2 Peter 3:4, actually involves an adverbial clause. "From the beginning of creation" is not the direct temporal modifier of the main verb, but a complement of hOUTWS, "the same since the beginning of creation." The verbal modifier is the clause "since the ancestors fell asleep," using an aorist indicative (this is supported by the immediate context of the sentence, as well as by the necessary relations of syntax, I think).

I disagree. The main clause literally reads, "all things thusly continue since the beginning of creation" (PANTA hOUTWS DIAMENEI AP' ARCHS KTISEWS). Given the choice between a prepositional phrase that immediately follows the main verb or a subordinate clause that precedes the verb and is separated from it by the subject and another adverb, I think we should take the prepositional phrase as the direct temporal modifier. If you are right, we should translate the sentence something like this: "For all things have been continuing since the fathers fell asleep just as from the beginning of creation." But evidently this is wrong; the sentence structure appears to require us to translate something like this: "For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have been continuing in this way from the beginning of creation." This is how most translations construe the text, by the way.

You wrote:

Of course because you see these two contested examples as employing adverbial phrases, you think we "probably should" include them with the uncontested examples, while you do not extend the same tolerance to Luke 2:48 and Acts 26:31, evidently because they do not involve the adverbial phrases you want (we can leave aside 2 Cor. 12:9, which we agree is a "gnomic" present).

I gave additional reasons beyond the absence of a temporal adverbial word or phrase for disputing the classification of these texts as PPAs. Somehow my reasoning is suspect for Luke 2:48 and Acts 26:31 but not for 2 Corinthians 12:9. I don't think this is a fair assessment.

You wrote:

On Luke 2:48, you indicate that Robertson calls this a "descriptive present," which he defines as entailing "durative action" in "present time." Since several grammars define the PPA the same way, and two even call the PPA the "durative present," it should be obvious that Robertson has subdivided the broader PPA category recognized by other grammarians.

What is obvious to one is not always obvious to another. You are confounding the term "durative present" as a designation for the PPA with Robertson's description of the descriptive present as "durative." As I have noted, the descriptive present is not a subdivision of the PPA. One does not translate the present-tense verbs with past-tense English forms in such instances as "we are perishing" (Mark 4:38), "our lamps are going out" (Matt. 25:8), "how can you be turning back" (Gal. 4:9), and "the light is already shining" (1 John 2:8). Robertson describes these as "durative" to contrast them to "aoristic" presents such as "I say to you" (John 3:3, etc.) or "Jesus Christ heals you" (Acts 9:34) or "your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5). If you wish to maintain that the "durative present" category is a subdivision of the PPA, then you will have to give up your claim that we should not translate the PPA using the English present tense.

You wrote:

You add interpretive remarks about the broader narrative context, in which you see the action as concluded, and therefore not a PPA. You might see it that way, but the Greek writer evidently did not. This is often what we mean by "idiomatic": we do not expect a concluded action to be described as ongoing. But as you suggest, the writer has augmented the vividness of the speaker's emotion by speaking as if the action is ongoing (one should note however that some of your grammars speak of action continuing "to" the time the statement is made, and not necessarily through it).

Your last comment is technically correct. If this were the only issue, it would not be enough to reach any sort of definite conclusion as to the correct classification. However, this is one of four reasons to be dubious about Luke 2:48 as a PPA.

The textual variant you also bring up in connection with this verse can be best explained as a scribal correction of the idiomatic expression with which some copyist evidently had the same interpretive issue you have with this statement. The more recent editions have in this instance abandoned the generally applied rule of "more difficult reading," and opted for a tidier verbal form, in my opinion illegitimately.

Evidently other factors weighed more heavily with the editors of those editions; I would have to do more research before offering any definitive comment on the matter. One consideration that comes to mind is that one or more scribes may have accidentally dropped the initial epsilon in EZHTOUMEN because they did not hear it (hODUNWMENOI EZHTOUMEN sounds a lot like hODUNWMENOI ZHTOUMEN if you say it quickly). Textual critics tend to prefer
explanations appealing to such accidental kinds of changes than to deliberate tampering with the text, all other things being equal. Unless you think the case for the present-tense reading is a slam-dunk, my point stands that the present-tense verb is textually uncertain.

You wrote:

On Acts 26:31, you quote several grammarians as remarking on the ongoing nature of the verbal action in this verse as part of their discussion of the PPA, without expressly contesting its inclusion as a PPA. Since these grammarians include present ongoing action in their definition of the PPA, without a more explicit quote expressing an argument against inclusion, I must wonder whether they actually mean to contest it.

Winer's grammar was the only one that I said disputed the classification of Acts 26:31 as a PPA. I don't think your response here really engages my argument on this point, or recognizes the force of my conclusion, which was that Acts 26:31 is not a *reliable* instance of the PPA.

You began your concluding remarks as follows:

Based on my remarks above, it is not only erroneous (because of the misidentification of the adverbial element in some cases), but also irrelevant to point out that 11 (or 13) examples out of 17 involve adverbs or adverbial phrases, for the reason that the simple adverb or adverbial phrase is so much more common in usage than adverbial clauses.

As I said, I think this statistical observation is one of your strongest points. To repeat, my argument was that clear-cut examples of the PPA have such adverbs or adverbial phrases, putting the burden of proof on examples that don't conform to this pattern. I did not exclude a priori the possibility that a text might deviate from that pattern and still have a PPA verb.

You continued:

And it is circular to treat as significant the fact that the 3 examples YOU have left over after extracting all cases where an adverb or adverbial phrase is involved do not involve an adverb or adverbial phrase (!).

Jason, you agreed with me about one of those three (2 Cor. 12:9), and I gave additional reasons beyond the absence of an adverb or adverbial phrase for questioning the classification of the other two texts as PPA. Therefore, your charge of begging the question is unfounded (to put it mildly).

You wrote:

Therefore there is nothing here to establish a burden of proof on the adverbial clause; it is only a matter of statistically smaller pccurrence.

I am glad that you stated the matter here as one of burden of proof, though much of your criticism seems to me to misread my arguments as a priori defining such texts out of bounds. (You do so again just two sentences later; see below.) As for the point you make, I have, on grounds other than merely the absence of a simple adverb or adverbial phrase, shown that the few counterexamples to my generalization fail to be reliable or definite examples of the PPA. This means that your reliable counterexamples rate the statistical value of zero.

You wrote:

And since the grammars that you yourself have chosen to cite do not limit the characteristics of the PPA, by description or example, in the arbitrary manner you employ, your argument comes only to the rather obvious point, with which I agree, that the simple adverb or adverbial phrase is used more commonly in Greek (as in English) than the adverbial clause. It remains true that any occurrence of an adverbial clause as the temporal element modifying a present tense verb, however statistically small in a sample as narrow as the Greek Bible is within the whole body of Greek literature, invalidates your claim (contrary to the majority of grammarians you have yourself cited) that a PPA is involved only when a simple adverb or adverbial phrase is involved.

There it is again. You are misreading my argument as making a claim that a single counterexample would be sufficient to falsify. Linguistic study rarely can make such claims, if ever.

You wrote:

The claim has the appearance of being arbitrary, since adverbial clauses are as much adverbial expressions as simple adverbs and adverbial phrases are, and the burden of proof would fall to those who contend that something about adverbial clauses exclude them from serving as adverbial complements as well as adverbial adjuncts (in fact, in several of your accepted, uncontested examples, the adverb or adverbial phrase is formally a secondary modifier, and hence an adjunct rather than a complement of the verb, and nonetheless exercises sufficient influence on the verb to make it a PPA; so if adjuncts can do this, complements such as is the case in John 8:58 can do so all the more). As we have seen and will see, when there is both an adverbial clause and a simple adverb or adverbial phrase within the same sentence, one needs to determine which is the complement and which is the adjunct (and I fully expect some debate from you on specific examples). An adverbial clause can be bumped to secondary, adjunct status by the presence of another adverbial expression, be it a clause, phrase, or word. But when an adverbial clause appears alone in the sentence with the main verb, as is the case with John 8:58, there is no reason to assume that the clause is an adjunct rather than a complement to the verb, and as a complement it finishes or completes the sense in which the main verb is to be taken.

Sentences using adverbial clauses *and* a simple adverb or adverbial phrase are the trickiest sentences to use in trying to define a particular usage of the present-tense main verb that is dependent on an adverbial. This is so precisely because the way we diagram these sentences will be more complex and more open to revision or challenge.

My post #7 proves that adverbial clauses in conjunction with present-tense verbs of the kind closely paralleling John 8:58 in grammatical form usually if not always function differently than the adverbs and adverbial phrases in undisputed examples of the PPA. Such sentences rarely if ever use the present-tense main verb as a PPA. The two posts need to be studied together to appreciate the force of my argument. When you do so, you will find that none of the clear examples of the PPA in biblical Greek uses temporal subordinate clauses to mark the present-tense main verb as a PPA, while few or none of the nearly dozen texts that do parallel John 8:58 in this grammatical construction can possibly be a PPA. Put these two halves of the
argument together, and the conclusion is irresistible: at the very least, it is quite possible that John 8:58 is not a PPA, and indeed the evidence strongly tilts in favor of concluding that it is not.

In Christ's service,

Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
Center for Biblical Apologetics
Online: http://www.biblicalapologetics.net

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