[sword-devel] KJV2003 - Guidelines

Patrick Narkinsky sword-devel@crosswire.org
Tue, 19 Nov 2002 21:34:40 -0500

Thus spake "Keith Ralston"> :

> Look at Mark 1:3.  The Greek has fone boontos en  . . . .  KJV translates
> *The* voice of one crying . . . .
> Sorry is my transliterating is off.  The Greek, fone, has no article and is
> therefore indefinite.  The English has been translated as definite.  This
> also happens frequently with hagios being rendered as *the* spirit.

While this is a good general rule, strictly speaking it's not always the
case.  Any time a word has the article, it's definite.  However, if a word
is anarthrous, it can operate in one of three ways:

1) Indefinite - e.g. Jn 4.7

ERXETAI GUNE EK TES SAMAREIAS = "There came *A* woman from Samaria"
(Or, less awkwardly, "a woman came from Samaria")  This says nothing about
the referent beyond that it is one of the noun - so, the woman is one woman,
but there is nothing to indicate which one.
2) Qualitatively - e.g. 1John 4.8

hO QEOS AGAPE ESTIN = "God is love"
This is not really indefinite, since it is referring to a specific quality
of a specific person, however it is not definite either.

3) Definitely - e.g. John 1.1

EN ARCHE HN hO LOGOS = "In THE beginning, was the word."
In this case, beginning is a definite time and place, and in English the
definite article is appropriate.  Also, there is Colwell's rule, which says
that a word in the predicate nominative lacking the article is rarely
indefinite.  So, John 1.1b does not mean "a God" even though QEOS is

(Examples and categories above are from Daniel B. Wallace, Basics of New
Testament Syntax.)

The bottom line is that, when a word has an article, it is always definite
(although it may be appropriate to leave the article out, such as with
proper names.  We never say, in English, "The Jesus", but gk says hO IESOUS
all the time.)  However, when the article is missing let context be your
guide.  The absence of the article does not, by itself, prove anything other
than that the word might be indefinite.


Patrick Narkinsky - Apprentice Pastor, Hope Community Church - 757-652-9540

"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons
exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - Chesterton