I would like to follow up on three entries I wrote on January 30 and February 1, 2010 on the scope of a Hellenistic Greek grammar.
At about that same time (Feb. 2, 2010), Mike Aubrey posted an outline over at ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ of what he would like to include in a grammar, and I thought of the various outlines those of us working on the revision of the Blass-Debrunner-Funk grammar had come up with 12 years earlier.
Today while reorganizing my office, I found a document mailed by Daryl Schmidt on January 30, 1998 to those of us working on the revision. It included his outline of the grammar as he perceived it at that point.
The outline he sent was definitely not final, and was the subject of much debate. It was one of several being discussed at the time. While the people on the committee had a good grasp of traditional Greek grammar, we had varying degrees of familiarity with the most recent models of linguistic theory, so there was a great deal of unease about terminology as well as the organization of the grammar.
I had many disagreements with Schmidt’s outline as it stood at that time, but understood it as representing his evolving understanding of the project, not a mandate for the form of the grammar. It was as a tool to prompt discussion.
I’m posting it below to invite your comments. The discussion of linguistics and Biblical Greek has come a long way over the last 12 years since it was written. Feel free to suggest where you would have made changes.
I, for example, would not structure a major portion of the grammar around the notion of “sentence” and would have much more to say about semantics and arguments structure. I’m sure Steve Runge (after a good laugh) could tell us clearly what’s wrong with the rudimentary section on “discourse” too.
Here is what Schmidt’s provisional outline included in January of 1998:
Sources: texts and mss
Grammar and Linguistics
Syntax: Words; Sentence types and patterns; Discourse units
Part 1: Grammar of Words
A. Introduction: rationale for categories
Lexical categories (“parts of speech”)
Formal features (morphology)
Grammatical features (e.g. gender, case, voice, aspect)
B. Major (“open”) classes: (heads of phrases)
noun, verb, adjective, adverb
C. Minor (“closed”) classes: (“function words”)
determiners, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions
Part 2: Grammar of Simple Sentences
A. Sentence structures
1. Elements of a sentence
agreement of subject & verb
2. Equative sentences
a. nominal (verbless)
b. with equative verb
B. Nominal Phrases
1. Introduction: constituents (determiners, adjectives, nouns)
modifiers and modifier roles
4. Substantival (headless)
C. Verb Phrases (predicate clauses)
1. Introduction: constituents (verbs and adverbials)
2. Verb features
3. Verb chains
5. Complement patterns
D. Sentence Variations
1. Reflexive & Passive
1. Within phrases and clauses
2. Compound Sentences
Part 3: Grammar of Complex Sentences
A. Formation of complex sentences
a. Subordinate conjunctions
b. Infinitive & Participle
2. Functions of Embedded Sentences
B. Nominal embeds
1. Indirect Discourse
a. Indirect Questions
b. Indirect Statements
c. Indirect Commands
2. Other Nominal Embeds
3. Nominal uses of subordinate conjunctions: summary
4. Nominal uses of infinitive, with
a. Verbs of discourse
b. Verbs of commanding
c. Causative verbs (ποιέω)
d. Impersonal verbs
5. Nominal uses of participle
C. Adnominal Embeds (adjective clauses)
1. Relative pronouns (incl. “substantive”)
2. Participle (incl. “substantive”)
D. Adverbial Embeds (adverbial clauses)
1. with subordinate conjunctions
2. infinitive (with τό, ὥστε)
3. participle (incl. Gen. Abs.)
Part 4: Grammar of Discourse
A. Phonology, Orthography, Accents
B. Morphology (incl. paradigms)
catalogue of verbs
loan words & cognations
C. Sumaries & Lists
grammatical/syntactical category functions
e.g. case functions
use of participles & infinitives
correlation with traditional categories
So, what do you think a reference grammar of Hellenistic Greek should include? How would it be different from Schmidt’s model?
This is a ground-breaking work, in that it approaches grammar from a linguistic perspective not previously employed in a full grammar of Biblical Greek. Notice the subtitle: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis.
I have gone through all 21 lessons on a Smart Board to insure that everything works without complication. All of the exercises work perfectly, and the lessons display well enough to be read comfortably.
The Smart Board allows the teacher to highlight key parts of the lesson by simply dragging a finger across them, or write on the lesson with one of the pressure “pens” to highlight particular items.
If you are teaching Greek and have access to a Smart Board, give it a try and tell me what you would like changed, improved, etc.
I’ll be out of reach of computers tomorrow (Saturday, October 2), but I’ll be back on Sunday.
I’ve made major headway on the lesson on the Aorist Middle. I hope to have that up and running in a few more days. I’m working on the exercises now.
The discussion on the documentary scope of a Hellenistic Greek Grammar has slowed a little, so I want to pull out one comment by Rick Brannan for further discussion. After citing O’Donnell’s proposed corpus, Rick proposes a few further works that I also think deserve serious attention.
He suggests two works from the Apostolic Fathers, and both fit the literary level and style of much of what is in the New Testament. He also suggests including Philo [of Alexandria], in addition to Josephus. Both of these authors were Jewish and each was bilingual (though not to the same degree), and because of this share certain features with several of the New Testament writers. Here’s what Rick Brannan had to say:
In Matthew Brook O’Donnell’s “Corpus Linguistics and the Greek of the New Testament”, he outlines a corpus of Hellenistic works to use for corpus linguistic purposes; there may be some insight. See pp. 164-165 of his book. It comes down to the NT, a few LXX books (Judges, 1 Macc, 2 Esdras) Hermas, Ignatius’ letters, Josephus’ Life, Philo’s On Moses. Then it gets interesting: Strabo’s Geography, Epictetus’ Dissertations, Polybius’ History, Plutarch’s Cato Minor, Arrian’s Anabasis, Diodorus Siculus’ Library of History, Cassius Dio’s Roman History, Apollodorus’ Library, and a generic “Selection of Documentary Papyri” and a generic “Selection of Inscriptions” (no further info on those last two). I think there should be more LXX, Apostolic Fathers (namely 1 Clement and Hermas, at least), Josephus and Philo, and that perhaps some of the early Greek OT Pseudepigrapha and NT Apocrypha too.
Are there other works from the Early Christian and Jewish communities that you think should be included in the documentary base for a serious grammar of Hellenistic Greek?
See also, “Scope of a Hellenistic Greek Grammar III: Papyrii.”
Introductory Greek grammars have been available on the web for some time now, but several are simply web versions of what is available in print, or are the notes of a Greek teacher presenting his or her favorite sequence and wording of what is already available in print.
What should be different about a web based grammar? What would you like to see in a web based grammar that you do not already find in a printed textbook?
I ask these questions for a concrete reason. I would like to add an introductory Greek course to Greek-Language.com. I want to make it a truly native web experience, containing interactive exercises, reading passages, etc. What features would you like to see it include?