Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Matthew Thiessen's new Canadian BS blog

Matthew Thiessen, a recent Duke NT PhD grad and current Senior Lecturer in New Testament College of Emmanuel and St. Chad and Lutheran Theological Seminary at the University of Saskatchewan, has a new blog.

Here's his description of the blog's purpose:

Greetings. Having just moved to Saskatoon, I thought it would be a good idea to begin blogging about teaching New Testament at the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad and the Lutheran Theological Seminary, member colleges of the Saskatoon Theological Union at the University of Saskatchewan. I hope to post notices of exciting events that are happening around here, as well as musings on the study of religion.

I hope you come by often!

Check it out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Debugging Mounce: "Contraction" (?!) in the Neuter Plural

We are all using the very popular Mounce textbook for the introductory Greek course in the Duke Divinity School. On the Duke Newt blog, we are planning on blogging some of our experiences with this textbook.

Occasionally, Mounce's explanations don't seem quite right. One example occurs on p. 32 of the 3d edition, in section 6.12 on case endings. As a bit of background, Mounce takes the unusual approach of giving the first and second endings apart from the stem-vowel (alpha/eta or omicron, respectively), rather than, as more common, expect students to learn the endings with the stem vowel.

Mounce's approach, however, runs into a wrinkle for the second declension, nom./acc. neuter plural ending, as in ἔργα (from singular ἔργον), because the omicron stem vowel is no longer there. Here's how Mounce attempts to explain it:

6.12 ... The underline (α means that the case ending joins with the final stem vowel.5 ...

5 This is called "contraction," and I will discuss it in detail later. For example, the stem of the noun ἔργον is ἔργο. When it is in the neuter plural its form is ἔργα. The omicron and alpha have "contracted" to alpha. ἔργο + α > ἔργα.

This explanation is simply wrong. In particular, omicron and alpha do not "contract" to a (short!) alpha. Rather, omicron + alpha contracts to a (long) omega (as Mounce later recognizes in the chart on p. 343).

The explanation is also wrong as a historical matter. The alpha of the neuter plural is not the result of an o-vowel plus an alpha ending; rather, it is the ordinary reflex of the Proto-Indo-European ending of *-eH2, which the vowel *e plus the a-coloring laryngeal H2. In this case, the stem vowel *o changes to *e by ablaut, which then is colored to α by the following H2.

Now, I don't expect introductory grammars of Biblical Greek to be giving the details of Proto-Indo-European morphology, but I do expect that their explanations of the Greek be correct. In this case, a more accurate explanation is that the neuter plural nom./acc. ending -α simply replaces the second declension stem vowel. There is no need to appeal to "contraction," which never occurred historically here and which apparently behaves differently from how omicron and alpha normally contract.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nathan Eubank in JBL

Duke Newt's very own Nathan Eubank has a new article out in the latest JBL 129/3 (2010): 521–536.

A Disconcerting Prayer: On the Originality of Luke 23:34a

Besides making a persuasive case for the long reading of Luke 23:34 (Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing), Eubank also demonstrates the important (and so often ignored!) methodological point that "if the goal of transcriptional probability is to determine what a scribe is most likely to have written, it would seem prudent to examine what the scribe’s near contemporaries wrote about the passage in question" (536).

Eubank's article is an excellent example of the importance of the history of exegesis for textual criticism.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

2010 Opening Convocation at Duke Divinity School

Prof. Richard B. Hays was installed as the Dean of the Duke Divinity School at the 2010 Opening Convocation. Here is his sermon (preceded by the readings):

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Our Father in Greek

My Greek class is memorizing the Our Father. One resourceful student found this video and wanted to share it with the class. I included the Greek text (as found in the NA27) below:

Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς•
ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου•
ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου•
γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου,
ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς•
τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον•
καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν,
ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν•
καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν,
ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.