PAUL STUART KARLEEN, University of Pennsylvania


The syntax of New Testament Greek (basically "koine" or Hellenistic) has suffered from a lack of modern formal analysis. A need exists for the application of the developments and conclusions of modern linguistic scholarship. This study limits analysis to one particular feature of New Testament syntax, the participle, with emphasis on its synchronic derivation. It uses one contemporary theory of syntax, that of Zellig Harris, in which a base set (containing all the information of the language) of sentences of a language is formed by operator/argument concatenation and all other sentences of the language are formed by (1) combination of such sentences and/or (2) optional reductions and/or (3) optional paraphrastic transformations. Traditional New Testament grammars are usually heavily semantically-based in their description. This study seeks to account for all synchronic derivations by use of Harrisian theory of the form found in the period 1970 to 1978, describing the formal features of the New Testament participle in terms of (1) the source sentences and (2) the required combinations of sentences, reductions or paraphrases. The theory is workable for New Testament/"koine" albeit awkward in places. Participles are described as derived from elementary sentences by processes which include (1) reduction and permutation through relative clause ("attributive" participle), (2) reduction and permutation through relative clause with zeroing of associated noun ("substantival" participle), (3) re-introduction of the attributive participle into the predicate ("periphrastic" participle), (4) nominalization (argumentizing) of a sentence as object or subject ("indirect discourse" and certain other participles), (5) zeroing of the conjunction in certain sentences of the form sentence-conjunction-sentence and change of the finite verb to a participle ("adverbial" participle), (6) obtaining certain participles from sentences containing reference to a state predicated of the subject of a verb changed to a participle. Detailed derivational charts of four representative New Testament verses are included. The "categories" of traditional grammarians are shown to be incompatible at certain points with formal transformational analysis of the participle. Previously undiscussed features of particular note include the "state" derivation, the explicit derivation of an adverbial participle and the derivational relation between the attributive, substantival and periphrastic participles. Many New Testament examples are adduced which are not found in the grammars. The study should be of interest to teachers of Greek (particularly New Testament), exegetes and translators. But, first of all, it is an illustration of a modern grammatical theory, obtained by applying that theory to a language which syntactically differs considerably from English.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

KARLEEN, PAUL STUART, "THE SYNTAX OF THE PARTICIPLE IN THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT" (1980). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8107765.