Friday, December 24, 2004

The Greek adverb SHMERON in relation to its verb in Koine Greek in Direct Discourse 

Back in the year 2004 George Kaplin and Rob Bowman discussed the translation of Luke 23:43 on CARM. At that time George was appealing to a quote from BDF which says that the adverb usually takes second position to the verb it modifies. The complete citation is found in the paper below. George had been arguing that second position meant "following" the verb by some distance. However he finally realized that "second" position is literally the word following the verb. He then revaluated his statistics and posted the following to Rob Bowman on a private group, bibexegesis.

George Kaplin [Fri Dec 24, 2004 5:25 pm] (Luke 23:43 (Rob Bowman))

Dear Rob,I believe I misinterpreted BDF earlier regarding their statement regarding word order between the verb and its adverb. They state the adverb takes second position to the verb, not that it follows the verb. Once that dawned on me I checked the statistics. The evidence is very compelling. My research follows.

There were a flurry of posts where George refined his paper and particularly the definitions of sentence and clause which resulted in a number of revisions of the paper. The final version is presented below.

Pay particular attention to footnote #2 because it highlights the particular fallacies that Rob Bowman employed in his book regarding his statistical treatment of the verse. In brief Rob Bowman relies upon English word order to exegete the Greek text and ignores the fact that the phrase AHMN SOI LEGW in Luke 23:43 differs from the rest of his 73 parallel examples when the Greek text is examined.

As a final note, evidently many are not aware that George responded to Rob Bowman after the CARM posting and that it is Rob Bowman who has not responded to the final version of the paper. The site, forananswer thus incorrectly states that "As of January 2005, this was the final post in this thread." The owner of the site and Rob Bowman have been emailed this link so that a correction may be made.

To correct the record, on January 11, 2005 George posted a reminder to another member that he was waiting for a reply from Rob Bowman for posts from Sat Jan 1, 2005, "The Greek adverb SHMERON in relation to its verb" and "The other five verses - Rob"

The adverb SHMERON in relation to its verb in Biblical Greek when found in Direct Discourse

There is perhaps no passage that contains SHMERON[1] which is more exegetically controversial[2] than Luke 23:43 and the question raised as to which verb in Luke 23:43 does SHMERON modify?

English renderings of this verse signal their position on the underlying Greek grammar by their placement of a comma[3]. For example the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures[4] takes the word “today” as modifying the first[5] clause[6] of Jesus’ statement at Luke 23:43, placing a comma after the word today.[7] The most frequent rendering found in English translations places a comma before the word today thus interpreting the adverb as modifying the second clause of Jesus’ statement,[8] while yet others agree with the punctuation as found in the New World Translation.[9]

However, it is generally understood that the earliest Greek manuscripts were Uncial and therefore did not generally have the punctuation marks which would settle this matter. So, where does the comma go?

A General Rule

Greek grammars are not silent on the subject. In Koine Greek sentences[10] an adverb which further defines a verb takes second position.[11] Thus when an adverb directly follows a verb it generally modifies the verb it follows[12].

If we apply this general rule to the exegesis of Jesus’ statement at Luke 23:43 the adverb SHMERON in second position to the verb LEGW should indicate that the adverb “today” modifies the first part of Jesus’ saying, thus supporting the rendering of the New World Translation at Luke 23:43.

Exceptions to the Rule

The grammars also indicate the Greek has a very flexible word order, certainly more so than English so that there are many exceptions to rules such as this. The Blass-Debrunner-Funk Grammar of NT Greek[13] (BDF) gives as it’s example of the rule that adverbs take “second position” the adverb LIAN at Matthew 4:8 and 2:16 where the verb is in first position and the adverb is in second position with no intervening words.[14] However they also indicate that the rule is not without exceptions and list two in note number two.[15]

On the other hand Greek word order is not so free that there are no patterns whatsoever. BDF indicates that “closely related elements in the sentence” are “usually padded together in simple speech.”[16]

To what extent should this general rule be applied to SHMERON in general, and specifically how can it aid our understanding of the direct discourse (simple speech) of Jesus’ statement in Luke 23:43?

The Empirical Evidence

An examination of all occurrences of the adverb SHMERON in the Greek bible, from the Greek Septuagint up to the Greek New Testament indicates that this general rule does indeed apply to the adverb SHMERON.

A computer aided search of the Greek uncovers some 332 instances of SHMERON found in 314[17] verses. Of these there are 68[18] verses where the adverb SHMERON follows a verb 72 times in the same sentence of direct discourse[19]. These examples are the subset which parallels the syntax found in Luke 23:43 where SHMERON also follows a verb in direct discourse. When these are analyzed it is apparent that when SHMERON takes second place to a verb in the first position in the same independent Greek sentence[20] of direct discourse, the relationship between this verb[1]-adverb[2] pair is not flexible. The adverb SHMERON in position two always modifies the verb in position one so long as they are in the same sentence.[21]

A Specific Rule

When the Greek adverb SHMERON takes second position to a verb in a separate sentence of direct discourse[22] it always further modifies the verb in the first position, without exception, in the corpus of the Greek Septuagint and Greek New Testament.[23]

Or, simply: When SHMERON follows a verb in Koine where Greek syntax allows for it to modify the verb it follows, it always does.

[1] The Greek adverb which is rendered in English “today.”
[2] Evangelical apologist Rob Bowman criticizes the rendering found in the New World Translation and offers his own “exegesis” by statistically comparing the word order and placement of commas in 74 English renderings of Jesus’ AHMN LEGW sayings (e.g., Matt. 5:18; 16:28; Mark 3:28; Luke 4:24 and Matt. 5:26; 26:13,21,34; Mark 8:12; 14:9,18,25,30; Luke 11:51; 21:32; John 1:51; 21:18). While none of the 74 English renderings (e.g. “Truly I tell you”) on the surface look different than Jesus’ saying at Luke 23:43 an analysis of the Greek shows that order of the verb and personal pronoun is reversed only at Luke 23:43. (Compare AMHN GAR LEGW hUMIN; AHMN DE LEGW hUMIN; AMHN LEGW SOI; AMHN LEGW hUMIN; AHMN AHMN LEGW hUMIN; AHMN AHMN LEGW SOI with the AMHN SOI LEGW SHMERON of Luke 23:43.) If the words of Jesus at Luke 23:43 conformed to the 74 examples Robert Bowman provides, the adverb “today” (Greek SHMERON) would follow the verb which would then confirm his conclusion. The evidence that the word order in Luke 23:43 of AHMN SOI LEGW SHMERON places the verb in the first position in its clause relative to SHMERON thus distinguishing it from the 74 examples is overwhelming. Additionally this paper documents that when Greek word order is considered there is overwhelming evidence against Rob Bowman’s conclusion. (Quotations from Rob Bowman taken from “Understanding Jehovah’s Witnesses, Why they Read the Bible the Way They Do”, Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516, 1991, pages 97-108)
[3] In English, commas separate clauses within the same syntactical structure. Periods, semicolons and question marks mark boundaries between sentences. There is no syntactical difference between a semicolon and a period. The semicolon shows that two sentences are considered more closely coordinated semantically than if a period was used.
[4] New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Rendered from the Original Languages by the New World Bible Translation Committee – Revised 1984 – Published by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, INC. International Bible Students Association, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
[5] “Truly I tell you today,”
[6] Clause: a complete grammatical construction consisting of one or more phrases. In Greek a clause may consist of anything from a single verb, noun or adjective (one-word phrase) to an intricate complex of phrases. Clauses may be independent (free-standing) or dependant (subordinate). Dependant clauses may be linked in a variety of syntactical and semantic relations to their independent clauses. (E.g. time, cause, inference, and the like). – Idioms of the Greek New Testament, Second Edition, Stanley E. Porter, 1995, Sheffield Academic Press Ltd., page 309 (Porter’s Idioms)
[7] "Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise."
[8] "today you shall be with Me in Paradise." -- In this rendering the adverb SHMERON is taken as having first place in it’s clause. Of the 19 other examples in Luke-Acts where SHMERON is found it never is found in the first place in it’s clause. (Lk. 2:11; 4:21; 5:26; 12:28; 13:32f; 19:5, 9; 22:34, 61; Acts 4:9; 13:33; 19:40; 20:26; 22:3; 24:21; 26:2, 29; 27:33)
[9] Rotherhams’s Emphasized Bible, “Verily I say unto thee this day: with me shalt thou be in Paradise.” (Kregel publications, 1959)
[10] Sentence: a syntactical unit consisting of one or more clauses, at least one of them an independent clause. – Porters Idioms, page 313; A dependant clause is a clause with a finite verb which cannot stand alone (i.e. it is not an independent clause), but it enters into a definable grammatical and semantic relationship (one of dependency) with another clause (often, though not always, an independent clause). – ibid. 230
[11] BDF §474. The position of nouns and adverbs. … (2) An adverb which further defines an adjective (or verb) also takes second position.
[12] An adverb which follows a verb which belongs to a different sentence or syntactical unit is not intended to be included in the rule.
[13] A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, F. BLASS AND A. DEBRUNNER, A Translation and Revision of the ninth-tenth German Edition incorporating supplementary notes of A. Debrunner by Robert W. Funk, CAMBRIDGE AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, The UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, 1961
[14] In Matthew 4:8 UYHLON LIAN and 2:16 EQUMWQH LIAN the adverb is in postion number two relative to the verb, illustrating what BDF means by “second position.”
[15] In Mk 16:2 LIAN follows the conjunction KAI and is followed by another adverb. At 2 T 4:15 LIAN precedes the conjunction GAR, which “never comes first in its clause; usu. second” (BDAG 189 – GAR); LIAN is therefore really in position #3 relative to the verb which precedes it.
[16] BDF §473 Closely related elements in the sentence, e.g. noun and attributive, noun and dependant gen., several subjects or objects connected by KAI, etc., are usually padded together in simple speech.
[17] Gen. 4:14; 19:37f; 21:26; 22:14; 24:12, 42; 25:31, 33; 26:33; 30:16, 32; 31:43, 46; 35:4, 20; 40:7; 41:9, 41; 42:13, 32; 47:23; 50:20; Exod. 2:18; 5:14; 13:4; 14:13; 16:25; 19:10; 32:29; Lev. 9:4; 10:19; Num. 22:30; Deut. 1:10, 39; 2:18; 4:1f, 4, 8, 26, 38ff; 5:3; 6:2, 6, 24; 7:11; 8:1, 11, 18f; 9:1, 3, 6; 10:13; 11:2, 4, 7f, 13, 22, 26ff, 32; 12:8, 11, 14; 13:1, 19; 15:5; 19:9; 20:3; 26:3, 17f; 27:1, 4, 10; 28:1, 13ff; 29:9, 11, 14; 30:2, 8, 11, 15f, 18f; 31:2, 21, 27; 32:46; Jos. 4:9; 5:9; 6:25; 7:19, 25; 9:27; 10:27; 13:13; 14:10f; 22:3, 16, 18, 29, 31; 24:15, 27, 31; Jdg. 6:17; 9:18; 11:27; 21:3, 6; Ruth 2:19; 3:18; 4:9f, 14; 1 Sam. 4:3, 7, 16; 9:12, 19f, 27; 10:2, 19; 11:13; 12:5, 17; 14:28, 30, 38, 41, 44f; 15:28; 16:5; 17:10, 36, 45f; 20:27; 21:3, 6; 22:15; 24:11f, 19f; 25:10, 32ff; 26:8, 19, 21, 23f; 27:10; 29:6; 30:13, 25; 2 Sam. 3:8, 39; 6:20; 11:12; 14:22; 15:20; 16:3; 18:31; 19:6ff, 21, 23, 36; 1 Ki. 1:25, 48, 51; 2:24, 31; 5:21; 8:15, 28, 56; 18:15, 36; 21:13; 22:5; 2 Ki. 2:3, 5; 4:23; 6:28, 31; 1 Chr. 29:5; 2 Chr. 6:19; 10:7; 18:4; 35:21, 25; 1 Es. 8:74, 86; Neh. 1:6, 11; 5:11; 9:36; Est. 1:18; 5:4; Jdt. 6:2; 7:28; 8:12, 18, 29; 12:18; 13:11, 17; Tob. 6:11; Tbs. 7:12; 1 Ma. 2:63; 3:17; 4:10; 5:32; 6:26; 7:42; 9:30, 44; 10:20, 30; 13:39; 16:2; 3 Ma. 5:20; 6:13; Ps. 2:7; 94:7; Odes 7:37, 40; 11:19; Prov. 7:14; Sir. 10:10; 20:15; 38:22; 47:7; Isa. 10:32; 37:3; 38:19; 58:4; Jer. 1:10, 18; 41:15; Bar. 3:8; Ezek. 2:3; 20:29, 31; 24:2; Sus. 1:55; Dan. 3:37, 40; Dat. 3:37, 40; Matt. 6:11, 30; 11:23; 16:3; 21:28; 27:8, 19; 28:15; Mk. 14:30; Lk. 2:11; 4:21; 5:26; 12:28; 13:32f; 19:5, 9; 22:34, 61; 23:43; Acts 4:9; 13:33; 19:40; 20:26; 22:3; 24:21; 26:2, 29; 27:33; Rom. 11:8; 2 Co. 3:14f; Heb. 1:5; 3:7, 13, 15; 4:7; 5:5; 13:8; Jas. 4:13 – 332 instances in 314 verses.
[18] Gen. 24:42; 30:16; 41:9; Exod. 2:18; 16:25a; Deut. 1:10, 39; 2:18; 4:38,39; 5:3; 9:1, 3, 6; 11:2; 20:3; 26:3, 17; 31:2; Jos. 14:11; 22:16, 18ab; Jda. 11:27; 21:3, 6; Jdg. 11:27; 21:3, 6; Ruth 2:19ab; 1 Sam. 9:20; 10:2; 14:44; 17:36, 45; 21:6; 24:12, 20; 26:8; 27:10; 2 Sam. 3:39; 6:20ab; 19:6ab; 19:7, 21, 36; 1 Ki. 1:25, 48; 2:31; 2 Chr. 35:21; Neh. 9:36; Est. 5:4a,b; 1 Ma. 3:17; 5:32; 6:26; 9:30, 44; Jer. 41:15; Matt. 21:28; 27:19; Lk. 12:28; 13:32; 22:34, 61; 23:43; Acts 22:3; 24:21; 26:2 – 72 instances in 68 verses.
[19] For this study a separate sentence of direct discourse is a syntactical unit consisting of a clause or group of clauses, spoken by a single individual which are related grammatically (not merely semantically) and which are not contained within another clause of direct discourse. Indicators of grammatical relationship include coordinating or subordinating conjunctions and/or subordinate clauses within the sentence of discourse. While there is not universal agreement among linguists as to the definition of sentence in language the syntactical distinction is being made in this study because the relationship being tested, that of a verb and its adverb is related to syntax and not merely semantics. This definition fits the profile of the unit of direct discourse found at Luke 23:43.
[20] The discourse pyramid consists of “word, phrase (or group), sentence (clause), periscope (or paragraph) and discourse. (Porter’s Idioms 298-299)
[21] In four of the verses (2Sam 16:3; Heb. 3:15; 4:7; Jas. 4:13) while “today” follows a verb in the Uncial Greek text, the verb is not part of the direct discourse and are therefore excluded from being compared to Luke 23:43. Genesis 22:14, while it conforms to the rule is found in indirect discourse and is therefore not counted. In Proverbs 7:14 both the verb ESTIN and SHMERON are in separate independent sentences which are semantically but not syntactically coordinated, therefore it is excluded from the study. In Luke 19:5 the postpositive GAR moves SHMERON to position #3 relative to the verb and is thus not an exception. (See earlier footnote on GAR in BDAG). In Matthew 21:28 and Acts 26:2 SHMERON is found between two verbs both of which it likely modifies. The latter two verses thus conform to the observation “Closely related elements in the sentence… are usually padded together in simple speech” (BDF §473; see earlier footnote) Thus all examples in the simple speech of direct discourse conform to the rule.
[22] See earlier footnote.
[23] There have been no studies performed on other Greek writings as of 1/3/2005.

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