Wednesday, January 12, 2005

RB16601 - Rob #24: Refocusing the revisitation of the PPA( 

(16601) - Robert Bowman [Wed Jan 12, 2005 1:21 pm] (Rob #24: Refocusing the revisitation of the PPA)


In this post I will complete my response to your post #17, addressing the sections "What Makes a PPA?" and "What Makes a PPA, Part 2" (pp. 219-27).

First, let's look at your section "What Makes a PPA?" (which dealt with my posts #6 and #8).

In post #6, I made four "summary observations" regarding what the grammars say about John 8:58. You strongly criticized these summary observations and we have debated them at some length already. If there was a problem, it was my use of the term "adverbial expression" in my second and fourth points and "adverbials" in my third point (p. 61). You construed me to use these terms in the second and third points to fudge my analysis of the grammars with regard to the function of dependent clauses in marking the PPA. I think this criticism exposes a lack of clarity and precision in the way I expressed the second and third points, though I stand by the claims I was actually making. Let me review the four points and state them more precisely.

  1. Almost all of these grammars note that the action or state that the verb expresses is "still in progress at the time of speaking" (as Burton puts it). I don't think you challenged this point.
  2. Most of the grammars make note of "some sort of temporal indicator" (as Wallace puts it) marking the PPA. In this restated, more precise articulation, please note that I am not addressing what forms this temporal indicator might take or how often it occurs in a PPA sentence.
  3. Some of the grammars treat this temporal marker (of whatever forms) as a standard element of the PPA usage; other grammars indicate that the temporal marker usually or often occurs but allow exceptions. I think we can leave it at that, with no quantifying at all, and my conclusions will still follow.
  4. The sorts of temporal indicators or markers that dominate the descriptions and examples of such temporal indicators given in the grammars for the PPA are adverbs and adverbial phrases, though half a dozen use the vague term "expressions" for the temporal indicators and a few cite examples in which the temporal indicator would have to be a dependent clause (the primary such example, cited in four grammars, being John 8:58 itself).

If you don't like the way these four points are articulated (it is especially difficult to state the fourth point succinctly), I will be happy to accommodate you and use your own summation:


For the sake of moving the argument forward, if nothing else, let us use your own emphatically presented "statistical summation." What may we conclude from the above statement? Here is what we may conclude:

From these two conclusions, I infer a third:

If we could agree on the above statement, then I think we could end our formal exchange and open the floor to a wider discussion. After all, my position all along has been quite simply that the evidence does not support your strong claim that John 8:58 *must* be translated idiomatically into English on the understanding that EIMI *can only be* a PPA (and therefore that the conventional translations of John 8:58 are just plain wrong). If you fall back to the weaker claim that John 8:58 *might* be a PPA and *could* be translated that way, then you will have in effect recanted your conclusion in chapter 10 of _Truth in Translation_. 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 ignoring clear facts. If you wish to take that stance, please let us all know.

You wrote:

Any future argument you wish to make concerning what makes a PPA must take account of the following two points of information: (1) 4 OF 15 GRAMMARS CITE EXAMPLES THAT HAVE NO ADVERBIAL MODIFIER AT ALL. (Luke 2:48 Turner, Moule; Acts 26:31 Turner, BDF, Winer) (2) 7 OF 15 GRAMMARS CITE EXAMPLES EMPLOYING AN ADVERBIAL CLAUSE (John 8:58 Turner, BDF, Winer, McKay; Acts 27:33 Fanning, Wallace; 2 Peter 3:4 Turner, Winer, Fanning, Robertson) - see my post 7. (p. 223)

Taking this information about the grammars at face value, what we may conclude is that some of the grammars give examples of the PPA that would be precedent for *possibly* considering EIMI in John 8:58 as a PPA. The fact that a minority of the grammars give examples of the PPA "that have no adverbial modifier at all" does not tell us anything about whether a particular text is a PPA. The fact that roughly half of the grammars give examples involving an adverbial clause shows that a text such as John 8:58 that also has such an adverbial clause *might* (in that respect) be a PPA. It does not prove that John 8:58 *is* a PPA.

There are other concerns I would raise here. Your second point is the more important of the two, and you mention three texts cited in the seven grammars as exemplifying the use of an adverbial dependent clause as the temporal marker for a PPA. One of these is John 8:58, which is of course the text in dispute. The four grammars that cite John 8:58 as a PPA provide a basis for the claim that a reasonable person *might* so classify John 8:58. They do not prove more than that. 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. BDF does say something about temporal indicators but allows exceptions, and so one might infer that its citation of John 8:58 is consistent with its viewing the dependent clause as such a temporal indicator. Two of those three also list 2 Peter 3:4, and the same point applies in those instances. Then again, the other two grammars that list 2 Peter 3:4 (Robertson and Fanning) also do not indicate that the
dependent clause fulfills that function. It is possible that they construed the adverbial phrase in that verse as the temporal marker of the PPA, rather than the dependent clause. So the citation of 2 Peter 3:4 is not evidence of these grammars viewing dependent clauses as potential markers of the PPA. This leaves Acts 27:33 as the sole possible example that shows that the two grammars citing it are treating a dependent clause as the temporal marker for a PPA. They do not specify that a dependent clause in Acts 27:33 functions as the temporal marker, but for sake of argument I will agree that this may be implied by their classification. Thus, the evidence of these citations for the conclusion that a dependent clause ever serves that function is much thinner than your "7 of 15 GRAMMARS" indicates. You can validly claim some precedent in the grammars; but you cannot validly claim that the grammars support the view that the role of dependent clauses as temporal markers for the PPA is clear or indisputable.

Part 2 of your discussion on "What Makes a PPA" focuses entirely on further criticism of my numerically expressed analysis of the descriptions given in the grammars in my post 11. Let me quote your conclusion:

All of your errors take the form of overscoring, rather than underscoring, and they all occur in assigning the highest two scores (those closest to your view). So there is a clear tendency in these errors, which is to skew the testimony of the grammars in such a way that your position appears more broadly supported than it actually is, and mine seems less supported than it actually is. Your original scoring had 7 out of 15 grammars in the two highest scores, compared to 8 of 15 in the lower three scores. A more accurate accounting (even allowing Greenlee's reference to a "phrase expressing the past time aspect" to be scored high) has 3 or 4 out of 15 grammars (depending on where Brooks/Winbery end up) in the top two scores, and 11 or 12 out of 15 in the lower three scores. So now we can see how the grammatical evidence actually breaks on this issue, and can see how the so-called "broad" definition of the PPA is by far the majority view of it among your set of grammars. Any "burden of proof," therefore, is on a "narrow" definition of the PPA modification, that is, yours. (pp. 226-27)

Your conclusion simply misses the entire point of my analysis. 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. This means that this whole last section of your post #17 (pp. 224-27), which purports to be a critique of my argument, is entirely irrelevant (except for the very last sentence; see below).

What was I attempting to prove? 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 those points shortly. But first, let's look at your critique. In the first of my categories for noting differences in the definitions given in the grammars (description of the past-time indicator), you wanted to assign Goodwin a score of 2 rather than 5 or 6 as I had said. You said that Brooks/Winbery should have 5 at most, but arguably should get 2. Wallace and Jannaris should have had 4 points instead of 5, and Wallace could conceivably be scored much lower. Taking all of this pretty much at face value without debate (for the sake of argument), we would revise my scale to look something like this:

Winer and Turner -3 points
BDF and Goodwin -7 points
Brooks/Winbery -11 points, possibly as low as 8
Young and Smyth -10 points
Wallace -12 points, possibly as low as 10
McKay -11 points
Greenlee and Robertson -12 points
Jannaris -12 points
Dana/Mantey and Burton -14 points
Fanning -15 points

How does this revision affect my conclusions, reviewed for you in my post #14? It doesn't affect my conclusions in the slightest. Let's go over them. I'll repeat what I wrote in post #14 (pp. 169-70) with some additional comments in light of the above considerations.

In relation to this point, though, you do attempt a sort of rebuttal. At the very end of your post #17, you make the following comment:

I think I have already sufficiently commented on the happenstance nature of grammars commenting on translation, and effectively shown that there is no exclusive correlation between those that do and the "narrow" definition of the PPA.

Since I didn't claim there was an "exclusive correlation" in this regard, and even noted that the correlation was *not* exclusive (specifying four out of five), you are knocking down a straw man. The fact is that the three grammars that have the broadest definition of the PPA "happen" to say nothing at all about how to translate it, while four of the five grammars that specify to translate the PPA using an English past tense "happen" to sit at the narrow end of the spectrum of definitions of the PPA. This is not an "exclusive correlation," but it is a statistically significant enough correlation not to be dismissed as "happenstance." At the very least, the evidence here offers some measure of support for my position; I think the evidence is very strong.

My next two posts will respond to your post #18.

In Christ's service,

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

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?