Tuesday, January 18, 2005

JB16623 - Jason #25: Revisitation of the PPA 

(JB16623) Jason BeDuhn [Tue Jan 18, 2005 4:09 pm] (Jason #25: Revisitation of the PPA)


In your message #24 you restate four basic summations of what the grammars say about the PPA, in a much less tendentious way than you did in your post 6. Well and good. The point I have been making since your post 6 is that you tend to read the grammars as restrictive. If their examples are simple adverbs or adverb phrases, you argued, they must intend to restrict the PPA to these forms alone. I have argued that this conclusion is fallacious, that the statistical preponderance of these more simple constructions using simple adverbs and adverbial phrases is prone to dominate any list of examples a grammarian may provide. Many of these grammars cite very few examples, so the handful of more complex clausal constructions are quite likely to be left out. That's my point, and it holds. I would maintain that those grammars whose characterization of the PPA refers only to adverbs and adverb phrases have been carelessly phrased here; again, the preponderance of such constructions has made their authors neglectful of other recognized forms.

You wish to conclude:

If you mean unanimity, you should not hold your breath waiting for it from grammarians. "Consensus" is a bit vaguer, and disputable. In fact, NONE OF THE GRAMMARS EXPRESSLY EXCLUDE CLAUSAL CONSTRUCTIONS. Some neglect to mention such constructions. But that is to be expected in a set of grammars of varying depth, breadth, and quality.

You continue:
"The only way I can see for you to salvage your stronger claim, while admitting the above three conclusions, is to insist that any Greek grammar that implicitly or explicitly excludes John 8:58 from the category of the PPA is definitely, clearly wrong, too: they also are gnoring clear facts. If you wish to take that stance, please let us all know."

Please note that ONLY TWO GRAMMARS APPARENTLY EXPRESSLY EXCLUDE JOHN 8:58 AS A PPA. I have already said that Robsertson is wrong when he says that EIMI in John 8:58 is "really absolute." It is simply a mistake on his part. And note that this comment occurs in his discussion of what we are calling the PPA; he does not cite John 8:58 under any other category of verbal use, including any of the alternative forms you wish to invoke to explain the verse. As for Wallace, I have not been able to obtain a copy of this grammar. But perhaps you could help me here. I notice that you cite his discussion of the PPA from page 519, but cite his remark on John 8:58 from page 531 n.46. What is the context of this note? And can you give us word for word what he says in it? On the other hand, you have taken the position that four grammars (Turner, BDF, Winer, & McKay) are wrong to include John 8:58 without caveat among the examples of the PPA.

You go on to say:
"Three of those four, by your own account in the first point, do not make any sort of temporal indicator a requirement for the PPA (Winer, Turner, BDF), so their inclusion of John 8:58 does not imply that in their view the dependent clause in John 8:58 fulfills that function. To be more precise, Winer and Turner say nothing about such a temporal indicator and so we can draw no inference at all about it from their citation of John 8:58."

I beg your pardon, but aren't you the same person who uses the cited examples of grammars as complementary evidence of what they mean by their definitions? As I have pointed out, this is legitimate to do as an indicator of what sort of forms are included, but not of what are excluded, from their definition. The fact that these two grammars give extremely basic and broad characterizations of the PPA does not relieve us from identifying what in the context of the verb indicates to the reader a PPA use. Winer, in fact, in expressly comparing John 8:58 to Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 89:2 LXX indicates the common construction involved, which is the clausal construction of modification. But you of course have said that Winer is wrong about all of these passages.

Now I have criticized in detail problems with your various numerations and scorings of where the grammars fall on the question of the PPA. It was you, not I, who introduced such statistical arguments into the discussion. Now, however, you claim:

"I was not in the least attempting to determine whether a majority of the grammars favored a broad or a narrow definition. I was not attempting to argue for a narrow definition as opposed to a broad one on the grounds that a majority of grammars employed a narrow definition."

Well, then I must apologize on behalf of all of us, or nearly all of us, who thought that counting which grammars you saw as favoring your view versus those you thought could be seen to be in line with mine, was a method of argument on your part. I can't imagine what we were thinking.

You say:
"I set out explicitly and quite plainly what I intended to prove in my post #14, which you completely bypassed on your last round of posts (pp. 169-70). . . I'll repeat what I wrote in post #14 (pp. 169-70) with some additional comments in light of the above considerations.

But I did address this in my critique, which you consider irrelevant. I pointed out that some of the things on which you compiled scores where arbitrary and not really indicative of where grammars fall on a single scale, that is, that you combined very mixed variables in a crude and versimplifying manner. So the above two claims are largely meaningless. What you term "broad" I could just as well term "most precise in inclusivity of possible forms."

You go on:

First, you have dismissed as a supposed "straw man" (and therefore avoided answering) my point that whether a grammar happens to remark on how to translate a form is a completely independent variable from what you term "broad" or "narrow" definition or any other thing you score. It has more to do with whether a grammar is written primarily with translators in mind or primarily for those who are studying materials in Greek without thought of producing a translation. So your attempt to correlate breadth of definition with remarks on how to translate is without merit, as I said in October. Such a correlation is essential to your claim, and not in any sense a "straw man," as you now say.

Second, you avoid any comment on the fact that those who do comment on translation assume a past rendering as the norm, which clearly puts your position against the tide.

Third, this issue relates to my point about verbal tense complementarity in John 8:58. You have never even attempted to contradict me (and rightly so) that English sentences require a certain verbal tense complementarity, and this is something most translations of John 8:59 violate. The only way you had open to you to avoid this issue was to try to split the sentence up, and claim that the two clauses had nothing to do with each other gramamtically (which is what would be the implication if EIMI were an "absolute"). But you have acknowledged that this cannot be done, because the dependent clause cannot stand alone. As I pointed out in October, your entire argument about EIMI as an absolute is muddled by lapses in your understanding of the term and of the status of the be-verb in both Greek and English.

best wishes,
Jason B.

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