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This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023

 

The Greek Definite Article

02.4.2

The character qualities in 2 Peter 1:5-7 are presented in pairs.  As each of these instances appears in the text, there is a definite article associated with it.  The first item in each pair is always presented with the Greek definite article τη.  This is the Feminine, Singular, Dative form.  The dative can be thought of as an Instrumental of Means, a Locative of Sphere, or simply as a Dative of Indirect Object.  It exactly parallels the dative form of it's associated virtue as discussed previously.

 

The second item in each pair is always presented with the Greek definite article την.  This is the Feminine, Singular, Accusative form.  The accusative should be thought of as an Accusative of Direct Object, directly paralleling the form of it's associated virtue.

 

The first of each pair of qualities receives the addition of the second quality.  I prefer to think of the first quality being the means of producing the second quality (Instrumental).  One can also consider the first quality being the place or venue for 'adding' the second quality (Locative).  Because this pattern repeats across all seven clauses, it is clear that a progression of growth is implied by the grammar of this passage.

 

In Greek the definite article is used very frequently.  “The function of the article is to point out an object or to draw attention to it.  Its use with a word makes the word stand out distinctly.” (Dana & Mantey, 1957, p.137).  It is not that one is just speaking of some sort of generic 'faith', but the use of the definite article implies that one is speaking of The Faith.  It highlights the word and particularizes it.  It sets it apart from other terms in a broader category.  Thus, in 2 Peter, where Peter clearly states that he is writing:  “to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours” (vs. 1), the particular faith he assumes they have is faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ.  This same use of the definite article continues through the entire sequence.  Thus, the virtue to be added is not just any virtue.  The Greeks had multiple well developed concepts of virtue.  By way of example, consider Plato's Protagoras.  So, Peter was not recommending that the disciple 'add' just any form of virtue.  Rather, by using the definite article, Peter tells us to add a particular, Christian form of virtue to our particular, Christian faith.  This understanding should be applied to all of the character qualities listed in the 2 Peter sequence.  The nature of these particular forms will be considered at length in the Theory section of this web site.