Logical subjects, grammatical subjects, and the translation of Greek person and number agreement

Koffi, Ettien

In Greek as well as in many languages, the verb agrees with its subject in number and in person. Such an agreement is reflected morphologically on the verb through suffixation. If the subject is a compound noun phrase, that is, NP + NP, the general tendency for Greek verbs is to agree with the NP closest to them. However, agreement can also be controlled by the logical subject, or the grammatical subject, or both. The present article argues that the failure to clearly identify the controller of agreement in Greek has led to translations that are exegetically and theologically questionable. This point is proven by the analysis of three key texts from the Greek New Testament and their translation into English, French, Spanish, and a number of African languages. The passages studied in this article are Galatians 1:8, 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17 and Colossians 2:1–2.

Content Language:
Semantic roles
Subject (grammatical)
Nature of Work:
pages 21-33
Entry Number:
40 233