Koine sentence structure and an example


A Workbook of New Testament Greek

For an English speaker, one of the difficulties in sitting down to read a passage in the Greek New Testament is that language’s flexible attitude toward sentence structure.

English tends to a ‘SVO’ order in its sentences: subject, verb, object.  For example,

Yesterday I moved all the furniture around in my apartment.

is SVO, with subject = I, verb = moved, and O = ‘all the furniture’.

We understand variations such as Yoda-speak –

“Move the furniture you must.”

but it’s not what we generally employ ourselves.

Greek is much more variable.  One of my first instructions to koine students is this: Find the subject.  If you start translating a long sentence in Greek without first identifying the subject it’s like pulling on the wrong end of a skein of yarn.  You get a tangled mess.

Below is an example for practice, taken from a narrative…

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