Relative Clauses in the Greek New Testament: A Statistical Study -- By: James L. Boyer

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 09:2 (Fall 1988)
Article: Relative Clauses in the Greek New Testament: A Statistical Study
Author: James L. Boyer


Relative Clauses in the Greek New Testament:
A Statistical Study

James L. Boyer

Relative clauses form one of the two main forms of subordinate clauses in NT Greek. Relative clauses may function adjectivally, nominally, or adverbially. A special use of the relative clause is found in alternating clauses connected by μέν and δέ. A relative clause is introduced by a relative pronoun that relates the clause to an antecedent. Generally, the relative agrees with the antecedent in gender and number, but its case is determined by its function in its own clause. Examination of its use in the NT, however, reveals several categories of exceptions to this general rule. The use of moods in relative clauses is governed by the same principles as those in effect for independent clauses. Generally, there is little confusion over the use of relative pronouns and their antecedents. However, there are a few problem passages (e.g., Matt 26:50; 2 Pet 1:4; 3:6 , and 1 John 3:20).

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Introduction

Structurally there are two main forms of subordinate clauses in NT Greek: those introduced by relatives and those by conjunctions. The relative clauses are the subject of this article.1

A relative clause is introduced by a relative word, either a relative pronoun or adjective or adverb. The statement made by the

relative clause might stand alone as an independent sentence, but the speaker chooses to “relate” it subordinately to some noun or other substantival expression in the main clause by using a special relative word for that purpose. The element to which it is related is called the antecedent.

The relative pronouns that will be under consideration in this study are the regular relative, ὃς, ἥ, ὅ, the indefinite relative ὅστις, ἥτις, ὅ τι, the correlatives ὅσος, οἷος, ὁποῖος, and ἡλίκος. The last four sometimes also function adjectivally and the last only as an adjective. Clauses introduced by relative adverbs could also be included in a study of relative clauses, but they are sufficiently dis...

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