Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Stuff only a geek could love

I just discovered that Steve Runge, whose blog has lain fallow since last fall, is now doing a weekly blurb on Greek and discourse grammar—the heading says it will eventually also include Hebrew. Right now, he is two weeks into every first year Greek student's favorite(?) subject, the participle! Good stuff.

Here's the link to the first one, All about Participles, Part 1.

And here's the second one, called appropriately enough, All about Participles, Part 2

I am especially fond of his last example this week:

Consider the impact of the participles in James 1:5 (a twofer!):

James 1:5 (SBLGNT) Εἰ δέ τις ὑμῶν λείπεται σοφίας, αἰτείτω παρὰ τοῦ διδόντος θεοῦ πᾶσιν ἁπλῶς καὶ μὴ ὀνειδίζοντος, καὶ δοθήσεται αὐτῷ·

James 1:5 (LEB) Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask for it from God, who gives to all without reservation and not reproaching, and it will be given to him.

The participles are not helping us determine which god James is referring to. Instead they shape how we think about him. Of all of the potential images that might come to mind in the context of asking him for something, James portrays him as the giving God, giving to all without reservation. He is also the “not reproaching” God. This is great news for those of us who might be too intimidated to ask him for things like wisdom. After all, what if our request makes him angry? The portrait that James paints of God serves to disabuse us of wrong ideas like this, and participles offer a great alternative to adjectives and nouns for creating evocative pictures.

I've often commented on the placement of the participle in this verse. I love that διδόντος (giving) comes before θεοῦ (God). James doesn't want you to import any ideas into whom he is mentioning, so he qualifies exactly what he wants highlighted about God before he even mentions him. And then, just to make sure you get it right, he follows up with what kind of giving we can expect.

Good stuff! See, grammar really does matter : )

Add it to your RSS feed. I'm sure the blog will be worth your time...

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