Awhile back over on the Logos Newsgroup for Greek, someone asked a question:
Someone has commented that there are 484 occurrences of the definite article occurring without a noun introducing a prepositional phrase, such as, "τα επι τοις ουρανοις." I wonder if someone would teach me how to search my GNT (N/A27) to confirm this statement?
The example is (I believe) from Eph 1.10:
εἰς οἰκονομίαν τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν, ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ, τὰ ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐν αὐτῷ. (Eph 1:10, NA27)
as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph 1:10, ESV)
Note that the same structure is used in "things on earth" in the same verse.
Anyway, the best way to find stuff like this — where you’re really searching for a relationship between words and/or phrases even though it looks like proximity will get you close enough — is a syntax search. In this example, the relationship is between the article and the prepositional phrase. It is more than proximity (occurring close to each other or in sequence); it is functionally that the prepositional phrase in some way further modifies/qualifies/distinguishes the article (which, in cases like these, tends to function like a relative pronoun).
The OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament makes this relatively easy to find. Let’s look at this portion of Eph 1.10 first to see how it is analyzed:
Here the word group contains a head term; the head term contains a word (τα) and the structure that modifies it. Here the structure is a relator. A relator is basically a prepositional phrase that functions adjectivally, modifying a substantive (instead of functioning adverbially, modifying the primary verb of the clause). So all we need to do is find where a relator modifies a word that that is an article.
There are two basic cases to consider. The first is like Eph 1.10, where the word is the root word of the head term, and the relator modifies it. The second case is where the word is a modifier itself, like in Mt 5.16:
Here note that τον is a definer, and the relator (adjectival prepositional phrase) modifies the definer.
These are the two cases to consider. A syntax search that looks like the following should account for both of them:
You’ll notice I’ve used an unordered group to contain the word+modifier portion of the query. Why did I do this? Because I really want to find where a word and a modifier are siblings (occur at the same ‘level’ in the annotation) because this implies they are in relationship with each other. The containing structure(s) (here the head term or modifier at the root of the query) constrain the elements to already being in the same unit. The unordered group allows for this, letting you specify the elements you care about (here a word and a modifier), and it will run the permutations, including optional elements occurring between them, while it searches. It makes query specification a whole lot easier.
When the search is run, 298 occurrences are located. Here’s a snapshot of the results dialog:
The different colors in the results come in because of the "OR" in the query. In this way you can tell that some results come from one half of the "OR". Here the greenish color represents the top half of the "OR" (word is a direct child of head term); the brown represents the bottom half (word is a direct child of modifier).
So, to answer the question posed on the Greek newsgroup; I’d respond that according to the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament, there are 298 instances of the definite article occurring without a noun introducing a prepositional phrase.