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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : CONSTRUCTION OF THE SENTENCE, 38-43

A Grammar Of Septuagint Greek by Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare


38. The Construction of the LXX not Greek. In treating of Accidence we have been concerned only with dialectical varieties within the Greek language, but in turning to syntax we come unavoidably upon what is not Greek. For the LXX is on the whole a literal translation, that is to say, it is only half a translation - the vocabulary has been changed, but seldom the construction. We have therefore to deal with a work of which the vocabulary is Greek and the syntax Hebrew.

39. Absence of men and de. How little we are concerned with a piece of Greek diction is brought home to us by the fact that the balance of clauses by the particles men and de, so familiar a feature a Greek style, is rare in the LXX, except in the books of Wisdom and Maccabees. It does not occur once in all the books between Deuteronomy and Proverbs nor in Ecclesiastes, the Song, the bulk of the Minor Prophets, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; and in each of the following books it occurs once only -

Leviticus (27:7), Numbers (22:33), Tobit (14:10), Haggai (1:4), Zechariah (1:15), Isaiah (6:2). Where the antithesis is employed, it is often not managed wiht propriety, e.g. in Job 32:6. As instances of the non-occurrence of one or both of the particles where their presence is obviously required we may take -

Gen.27:22 E phone phone Iakob, hai de cheires cheires Esau.

Jdg.16:29 kai ekratesen hena te dexia autou kai hena te aristera autou.

2 K. [2 Sam.] 11:25 pote men houtos.

3 K. [2 Kings} 18:6 mia . . . alle.

40. Paratactical Construction of the LXX. Roughly speaking, it is true to say that in the Greek of the LXX there is no syntax, only parataxis. The whole is one great scheme of clauses connected by kai, and we have to trust to the sense to tell us which is to be so emphasized as to make it into the apodosis. It may therefore be laid down as a general rule that in the LXX the apodosis is introduced by kai. This is a recurrence to an earlier stage of language than that which Greek itself had reached long before the LXX was written, but we find occasional survivals of it in classical writers, e.g. Xen. Cyrop.1.4.28 kai hodon te oupo pollen dienusthai autois kai ton Medon hekein. Here it is convenient to translate kai when,' but the construction is really paratactical. So again Xen. Anab.4.2.12 Kai touton te pareleluthesan hoi Hellenes, kai heteron horosin emprosthen lophon katechomenon. Cp. Anab.1.8.8, 2.1.7, 4.6.2; also Verg. Æn.2.692 -

Vix ea fatus erat senior, subitoque fragore intonuit laevom.

In the above instances the two clauses are coordinate. But in the LXX, even when the former clause is introduced by a subordinative conjunction, kai still follows in the latter, e.g. -

Gen.44:29 ean oun labete . . . kai kataxete ktl.

Ex.13:14 ean de erotese . . . kai ereis ktl. Cp.7:9.

Josh.4:1 kai epei sunetelesen pas ho laos diabainon ton Iordanen, kai eipen Kurios.

Sometimes a preposition with a verbal noun takes the place of the protasis, e.g. -

Ex.3:12 en to exagagein . . . kai latreusete.

In Homer also kai is used in the apodosis after epei (Od.5.96), emos (Il.1.477: Od.10.188), or hote (Od.5.391, 401: 10.145, 157, 250).

The difficulty which sometimes arises in the LXX in determining which is the apodosis amid a labyrinth of kai clauses, e.g. in Gen.4:14, 39:10, may be paralleled by the difficulty which sometimes presents itself in Homer with regard to a series of clauses introduced by de, e.g. Od.10.112, 113; 11.34-6.

41. Introduction of the Sentence by a Verb of Being. Very often in imitation of Hebrew idiom the whole sentence is introduced by egeneto or estai.

Gen.39:19 egeneto de hos ekousen . . . kai ethumothe orge. Cp. vs.5, 7, 13.

3 K. [2 Kings} 18:12 kai estai ean ego apeltho apo sou, kai pneuma Kuriou arei se eis ten gen hen ouk oidas.

In such cases in accordance with western ideas of what a sentence ought to be, we say that kai introduces the apodosis, but it may be that, in its original conception at least, the whole construction was paratactical. It is easy to see this in a single instance like -

Gen.41:8 egeneto de proi kai etarachthe he psuche autou,

but the same explanation may be applied to more complex cases, e.g. -

Nb.21:9 kai egeneto hotan edaknen ophis anthropon, kai epeblepsen epi ton ophin ton chalkoun, kai eze. And there was when a serpent bit a man, and he looked on the brazen serpent, and lived. Cp. Gen.42:35, 43:2, 21: Jdg.14:11.

42. Apposition of Verbs. Sometimes the kai does not appear after egeneto, egenethe, or estai, thus presenting a construction which we may denote by the phrase Apposition of Verbs.

Jdg.19:30 kai egeneto pas ho blepon elegen . . .

1 K. [1 Sam.] 31:8 kai egenethe te epaurion, erchontai hoi allophuloi.

Gen.44:31 kai estai en to idein auton me on to paidarion meth' hemon, teleutesei.

In two versions of the same Hebrew we find one translator using the kai and the other not.

4 K. [2 Kings] 19:1 kai egeneto hos ekousen basileus Hezekias, kai dierrexen ta himatia heautou.

Is.37:1 kai egeneto en to akousai ton basilea Hezekian, eschisen ta himatia.

43. De in the Apodosis. The use of de to mark the apodosis, which is found occasionally in classical authors from Homer downwards, is rare in the LXX.

Josh.2:8 kai egeneto hos exelthosan . . . haute de anebe.

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