Bible Review 9:5, October 1993

Greek for Bible Readers

The article, conjunctions and Greek word order

By David Alan Black

Bible Review

Greek has no indefinite article (English “a” or “an”). Thus a[nqrwpo~ means “man” or “a man.” When Greek wants to indicate that a noun is definite, it places the definite article in front of it. Thus oJ a[nqrwpo~ means “the man.” In general, the presence of the article emphasizes particular identity, while the absence of the article emphasizes quality or characteristics. In Luke 18:13, for example, the tax collector, by using the article, identifies himself as “the sinner,” a point largely missed in English translations. On the other hand, Paul’s claim in Galatians 1:1 to be “an apostle” emphasizes the dignity and authority of his apostleship without excluding others from that office. Where no article appears in Greek, the indefinite article “a” or “an” may be used in English when the context suggests this translation.

A conjunction is a word whose function is to join together words, phrases, clauses and sentences (“and,” “or,” “but,” etc.). Conjunctions are classified either as coordinate or as subordinate. Coordinate conjunctions connect parallel words or clauses. They may show such relationships as connection (and), contrast (but), and consequence (therefore). Subordinate conjunctions introduce clauses that depend on some other clause. Subordinate clauses may be conditional (if), concessive (although), temporal (when), causal (because), final (in order that) or consecutive (that).

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