When you study Greek as a first year student you work hard to learn basic paradigm rules and apply them so as to be able to recognize the grammatical forms of the language (in the older way of learning you just memorized huge tables of forms, but we have learned that is a very counter-productive way of doing it). And about halfway through you start getting excited about being able to tell the difference between a genitive and an accusative noun form, or becoming comfortable with the present indicative verb forms.

At the beginning of your second year of study, though, you start to realize that you are not nearly as far along as you thought you were, for that is when you discover the wonderful world of syntax. Grammar speaks to the basic forms of words in the language, while syntax takes the next step toward true communication of meaning, the relationship of those words and phrases in sentences. When studying syntax you learn how truly expressive those basic grammatical forms can be when placed in certain constructions. My favorite area of syntactical study has always been participles. I find them simply fascinating.

But to the surprise of many, the one area of syntactical study that has always challenged me is that of infinitives. This is a bit odd simply because on a grammatical level, infinitives are nice and simple and easy to recognize. But on the syntactical level and in translation, they have been the bane of my existence. It is like the “syntax of infinitives” portion of my brain has a coating of Teflon: they just don’t stick. Oh, sure, eis to + infinitive is easy, but that’s probably because when you’ve read the Pauline corpus enough times it gets drilled into your head. But I guess for my mind the infinitive falls into that wonderful land of “idiom” that remains a challenge.

And so I have decided to exercise personal discipline, like the Olympic athlete—well, ok, like the geeky grammarian—and have decided to tackle this area once and for all! Infinitives, I serve you warning! You will not fluster me any longer! OK….substantival, adverbial…anarthrous and articular…here we go….

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