Kata Sarka ???

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Feb 3 2011 12:12 AM

Question: Is it grammatically possible for the highlighted phrase in verse 1 below to be part of the next verse? Specifically, kata sarka.

Just trying to make sense out of Paul's otherwise false statement...he is after all (as he says at least twice in Romans) writing to Gentiles...thus by definition Abraham is NOT their father according to the flesh.

Romans

4:1        Τί   οὖν   ἐροῦμεν   εὑρηκέναι  
τίς οὖν εἶπον εὑρίσκω
RI-ASN CLI VFAI1P VRAN
what therefore, then to say to find
what then shall we say has found6
92.14 89.50 33.69 27.1
Ἀβραὰμ   τὸν   προπάτορα   ἡμῶν   κατὰ  
Ἀβραάμ προπάτωρ ἐγώ κατά
NASM, XP DASM NASM RP1GP P
Abraham the ancestor, forefather we according to
[that] Abraham1 ancestor3 our2 according to4
93.7 92.24 10.20 92.1 89.8
σάρκα ;         εἰ   γὰρ   Ἀβραὰμ   ἐξ   ἔργων  
σάρξ εἰ γάρ Ἀβραάμ ἐκ ἔργον
NASF CAC CLX NNSM, XP P NGPN
flesh if for Abraham by work, deed
the flesh5 if2 for1 Abraham3 by5 works6
8.63 89.65 89.23 93.7 89.77 42.42
ἐδικαιώθη ,   ἔχει   καύχημα
δικαιόω ἔχω καύχημα
VAPI3S VPAI3S NASN
to justify, to declare righteous to have boast,* boasting
was justified4a he has something to boast about
34.46 57.1 33.368
,   ἀλλʼ   οὐ   πρὸς   θεόν .
ἀλλά οὐ πρός θεός
CLC BN, TN P NASM
but not before God
but not before God
89.125 69.3 89.7 12.1

The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2008), 415.

In case you are having trouble reading the small interlinear print above, I have added the Greek from NA27:

4 Τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν εὑρηκέναι Ἀβραὰμ τὸν προπάτορα ἡμῶν κατὰ σάρκα; 2 εἰ γὰρ Ἀβραὰμ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη, ἔχει καύχημα, ἀλλʼ οὐ πρὸς θεόν.

What I would expect verse 2 to say is something like: "For if Abraham by works according to the flesh was justified..."

Interested in your input. Thanks in advance.

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Kevin Becker | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 3:33 AM

γὰρ is a post-positive word. It almost always comes second in a sentence and when it's not second its usually third. Since Greek can play so fast and loose with word order words like it are actually pretty regular to help people know when a sentence starts. So, I'm reasonably confident in the punctuation used by the NA27 here.

I won't contribute to the question of the truth/untruth of Paul's statement.... forum guidelines.

Posts 286
Dr. Charles A. Wootten | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 6:08 AM

David Paul:
Is it grammatically possible for the highlighted phrase in verse 1 below to be part of the next verse? Specifically, kata sarka.

I found this of interest and went on rabbit trails to see what there is to see. Come to find out that you aren't alone in your discovery. The Word Biblical Commentary Vol 38A has a great discussion on the issue. Then I wandered over to the UBS Handbook on verse 1, followed by a glance at the Expositor's Bible Commentary on chapter 4. Wandering through 3 or 4 Greek grammars didn't shed much more light than these I've mentioned. Calvin seems to have led the pack in this query in chapter 4.

It could be that since Abraham is considered the father of faith, a type of Christian faith, as it seems where Paul's thinking was going as 4:16 indicates, then whether he is writing to Gentiles or Jews is not a issue for me as he could be writing to the Christians at Rome who conceivably could be from both camps.

However, where to place the phrase remains an item for discussion. Enjoy the adventure!

God bless

{charley}

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 8:02 AM

Kevin Becker:

γὰρ is a post-positive word. It almost always comes second in a sentence and when it's not second its usually third. Since Greek can play so fast and loose with word order words like it are actually pretty regular to help people know when a sentence starts. So, I'm reasonably confident in the punctuation used by the NA27 here.

Thanks for your input Kevin. I'm much better at Hebrew than Greek, precisely for the reason you mention...the grammar and syntax of Greek is convoluted (that's about the nicest way I can phrase it) and though it may make sense given its own set of rules, it is an affront to common sense and logical order--an odd circumstance given the very Greek preoccupation with logic. I took your input about γὰρ and ran a search on the word, but it gave me a result that doesn't quite line up with your explanation.

For instance (in NA27), in the first use of the word in Mt. 1:20, it is the 24th word in the verse, and in the next verse, Mt. 1:21, it is the 11th word. In Mt. 2:2 it is the 10th word (though 2nd after a semicolon). In Mt. 2:5 and Mt. 2:6, it is the 10th and 15th word respectively. In Mt. 2:13 it is the 33rd (!) word and in Mt. 2:20 it is 16th. In Mt. 3:2 it is the 4th (or 5th) word and in Mt. 3:3 (Finally!) it is the 2nd word.

Based on this info, I would have to question the "post-positive" concept...though I know from experience of reading in the Greek text that it does often occur in the places you mention. I just don't see that it CAN'T be used elsewhere since the above clearly shows it can...

Which brings me back to my original query (put forward to all readers): IS THERE ANY DEFINITIVE REASON THAT kata sarka CANNOT BE INCLUDED IN VERSE 2?, in accordance with the suggestion I put forward in the op.

Kevin Becker:

I won't contribute to the question of the truth/untruth of Paul's statement.... forum guidelines.

Hehehe...okay, but aside from the issue of capital "T" Truth, care to take a stab at explaining how something that seems inherently implausible isn't? I'm trying to approach this from a semantic perspective.

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 8:17 AM

David Paul:

Question: Is it grammatically possible for the highlighted phrase in verse 1 below to be part of the next verse? Specifically, kata sarka.

Just trying to make sense out of Paul's otherwise false statement...he is after all (as he says at least twice in Romans) writing to Gentiles...thus by definition Abraham is NOT their father according to the flesh.

It would appear that Paul was writing not simply to gentiles, but to Jews as well.  In 9.10 he calls Isaac "our father" as well

Οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ Ῥεβέκκα ἐξ ἑνὸς κοίτην ἔχουσα, Ἰσαὰκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν·

 

I would rather state that Paul is indeed writing to Jews as well as gentiles and that what is being contrasted here is the heritege κατὰ σάρκα with that which is πνευματικός.  Indeed, he refers to the Law itself as being spiritual whereas he is physical Οἴδαμεν γὰρ ὅτι ὁ νόμος πνευματικός ἐστιν, ἐγὼ δὲ σάρκινός εἰμι (7.14).

george
gfsomsel

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Mike & Rachel Aubrey | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 8:46 AM

David Paul:

For instance (in NA27), in the first use of the word in Mt. 1:20, it is the 24th word in the verse, and in the next verse, Mt. 1:21, it is the 11th word. In Mt. 2:2 it is the 10th word (though 2nd after a semicolon). In Mt. 2:5 and Mt. 2:6, it is the 10th and 15th word respectively. In Mt. 2:13 it is the 33rd (!) word and in Mt. 2:20 it is 16th. In Mt. 3:2 it is the 4th (or 5th) word and in Mt. 3:3 (Finally!) it is the 2nd word.

Hi David, just to clarify, post-positives tend to come 2nd in their clause. To take Mt 2:13 as an example:

 

Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατʼ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ λέγων· Ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον, καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό.

It may be the 33 word in the verse, but it is still the 2nd in the clause. Here are how the clauses break down in vs 13 (with subordinate clauses indented):

Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν

ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατʼ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ λέγων·

Ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον,

καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι·

μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό.

As you can see, γὰρ does indeed appear second in its clause even though its 33rd in the verse. The post-positive rule is probably one of the most reliable rules we have in terms of Greek word order.

So that's one reason why κατὰ σάρκα should be viewed as going with the clause in verse 1.

Another reason I would suggest is that verse 2 begins with a conditional clause. It's pretty much guaranteed that in a conditional clause, the conditional particle (in this case εἰ) is going to come first in its clause. There are a few instances in Classical Greek where this is not the case, but I'm not aware of any in the era of the New Testament. And I'd being willing to take it to the bank that we don't have an instance of such a phenomena here.

I would suggest that Paul's τὸν προπάτορα ἡμῶν "our forefather" has an exclusive sense that doesn't include his entire audience--there are in fact many languages that formally mark such distinctions (e.g. Quechua in South America).

I hope that helps.

 

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Kevin Becker | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 9:01 AM

David, keep in mind that the verification does not relate to sentences! γὰρ in the middle of a verse is nothing; also, punctuation used in Greek texts is different than English in a couple of key cases.

; is a question mark
· (raised dot) is equivalent to a semi-colon, a new thought/sentence has been started but is related to the previous sentence.

Matthew's Greek usage doesn't inform us on Paul's I ran a quick search on Paul's usage of γὰρ and found no cases that I thought broke the post-positive usage pattern. Places where a comma preceded a gar by a word or two were appeared to be post-positive in a phrase/clause to my skimming eye.

Paul's usage of this word does not back up your hypothesis that kata sarka goes with the following phrase.

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Kevin Becker | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 9:05 AM

Mike Aubrey:
As you can see, γὰρ does indeed appear second in its clause even though its 33rd in the verse. The post-positive rule is probably one of the most reliable rules we have in terms of Greek word order.

Thanks for explaining it better than I did Mike!

Posts 11433
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 11:43 AM

David .... I know your question is a grammatical one. But hopefully Dr Wootten's reference will merit your consideration. There's also a semantic connection traceable to Ben Sira, which the Roman's readers would likely be familiar with at the time.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 2:44 PM

Thanks for the replies so far...I'm not fully up to speed on Greek, thus the need to ask. As far as explaining the presence of the phrase kata sarka in v.1, I will need to take some time to contemplate, study, and meditate on the suggestions put forward.

Thanks again. Also, if anyone has any additional input, that would be great.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 3:06 PM

George Somsel:

David Paul:

Question: Is it grammatically possible for the highlighted phrase in verse 1 below to be part of the next verse? Specifically, kata sarka.

Just trying to make sense out of Paul's otherwise false statement...he is after all (as he says at least twice in Romans) writing to Gentiles...thus by definition Abraham is NOT their father according to the flesh.

It would appear that Paul was writing not simply to gentiles, but to Jews as well.  In 9.10 he calls Isaac "our father" as well

Οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ Ῥεβέκκα ἐξ ἑνὸς κοίτην ἔχουσα, Ἰσαὰκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν·

I would rather state that Paul is indeed writing to Jews as well as gentiles and that what is being contrasted here is the heritege κατὰ σάρκα with that which is πνευματικός.  Indeed, he refers to the Law itself as being spiritual whereas he is physical Οἴδαμεν γὰρ ὅτι ὁ νόμος πνευματικός ἐστιν, ἐγὼ δὲ σάρκινός εἰμι (7.14).

Well, George, I suppose we are left with "it would appear"...otherwise it seems untenable. Also, not that it really clarifies the identity of Paul's intended audience, but in Rom. 7:1 he also says that he is writing to "those who know the law". As far as calling Isaac "our father" (or Abraham, for that matter), I don't have any problem with that statement on its face, because it is readily understood from what can be called a "spiritual" perspective. But the "our father according to the flesh" comment is difficult if not troublesome.

I don't have any trouble with the veracity of the Rom. 7:14 comment...I accept that on its face.

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 4:38 PM

David Paul:
But the "our father according to the flesh" comment is difficult if not troublesome.

Maybe that's why the NIV takes 'kata sarka' to modify 'discovered' (eurekenai).It's a nice way around the issue.

However, though I often tend to like the NIV's take on things, it doesn't seem the most natural way to take the Greek here. I read Paul as talking from a Jewish perspective, and his "our" here refers to his own ethnic heritage (the exclusive 'we,' as in us but not you). He is making the point, I think, that even as regards Jewish ethnicity, Abraham's righteousness is a matter of faith, not obedience, and thus the heritage itself is more about faith than shear obedience.

BTW, isn't it also interesting that in writing to Rome he sometimes refers to Gentiles as "Greeks" (cf. Rom 1:14; 3:9, e.g.).

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