Friday, April 28, 2023

The Joy of Verbless Clauses

I love the "rules" of English grammar, don't you? These include:

Always avoid the apt art of alliteration.

The passive voice is to be avoided.

Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

Get my drift? How 'bout this "rule":

Never a verbless clause in English!

Pure nonsense, of course! You don't need an explicit verb to make perfectly good sense of a sentence. Need proof?

I ran a 5K, my sister a marathon.

I write textbooks, my brother novels.

I arrived today, my sister yesterday.

KNX News Radio time, 5:30.

Now, what is true in English is even more true in Greek. The lack of an explicit verb in clauses with a predicate ("I am a teacher") isn't at all rare or awkward. Did you know that one out of three clauses with predicates in New Testament Greek are verbless? Perhaps the most famous are:

Great ... your faith.

For the laborer ... worthy of his wages.

Your reward ... great in heaven.

The harvest ... great, but the workers ... few.

My favorite is the first Beatitude:

Blessed ... the poor in spirit. 

Think of a newspaper headline:


Anyhoo, make me proud and keep all this in mind when you are translating the Greek New Testament into English.