Greek Syntax: First Thessalonians 4:16, Part IV


I’ve blogged a bit about the prepositional phrase εν Χριστω in 1Th 4.16. There are three previous posts in this series:

Today’s post, the last in the series, is a follow-up to Part II. We’ll further explore how to search for εν Χριστω in relation to the verb (predicator) that it co-occurs with; only today we’ll search for this with both adverbial (as in Part II) and adjectival instances. For those of you who can’t wait, here’s a link to the video:

In 1Th 4.16, εν Χριστω occurs before the verb, as shown below:

1Th 4.16

This instance is somewhat ambiguous (indeed, that’s the reason why the JBL article was written); there are equally good reasons for the prepositional phrase to modify the subject or the verb. OpenText.org SAGNT annotates this as an adjectival relation, further modifying the subject. In order to examine like cases, we need to find where the prepositional phrase itself (whether the OpenText.org SAGNT annotates it adjectivally or adverbially) occurs preceding the predicator. Our earlier search in Part II only located OpenText.org’s adverbial instances.
So today’s video starts there and then shows how to search for where OpenText.org’s adjectival instances precede the predicator. The combination of those two lists provides the whole set of instances where the prepositional phrase precedes the predicator.

Once the lists are available, the analysis can proceed. Examine not only the verbs, but also the other clausal components that are similar to 1Th 4.16. Which of these instances, like 1Th 4.16, appear to be genuinely ambiguous as to where the prepositional phrase can attach? And can those instances help in establishing reasons to prefer either adjectival or adverbial modification in 1Th 4.16?
Lastly, after surveying the material, you may want to do a reference search of your Greek grammars to see if any of them discuss the issue of how the prepositional phrase functions in 1Th 4.16; you may also want to check some of your commentaries (like NIGTC on Thessalonians, perhaps; or the WBC or ICC volumes if you’ve got ‘em) to see what they say.

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