Article, in Grammar
Article, In Grammar.
Of this part of speech, but one kind, the definite article, requires any consideration here, since the indefinite article in those languages where it is grammatically treated as a peculiar form is, after all, but a modification of the numeral for one (Gr. εἵς, ἑνός; Lat. unus; French, un; Germ. ein; Eng, an, etc.). In Hebrew the definite article is denoted by the syllable הִprefixed to the noun (or other word so employed), and the Dagesh forte inserted in the following letter (whenever this will admit) shows that this was but a contraction for some older form, probably הִל (or perhaps a modified form of the demonstrative pronoun , אֵלֶּה), corresponding to the Arabic al or el, which in like manner assimilates its last letter to that of many words with which it is joined. In Chaldee and Syriac, however, this prefix is never employed, but in its stead the letter א (or syllable ah) is appended to the noun, which is then said to be in the "definite or emphatic state." In the Greek language, on the other hand, the article is pronominal in form and construction, being, in fact, originally (e.g. in Homer) actually a demonstrative pronoun. The point of the greatest importance in biblical criticism, and that for the interest connected with which the subject is here introduced, is the frequent omission of the definite article in the New Testament, where in classical Greek its presence is grammatically requisite. Bishop Middleton has treated copiously of this peculiarity ( Doctrine of the Greek Article, Lond. 1824, and often since); but many of the "canons" that he lays down for its use or disuse, upon which important theological conclusions have often been made to depend, are highly fanciful, and unsupported by general Hellenistic usage. The idiom in question is, in fact, nothing more than a transfer of the Hebrew laws for the omission or insertion of the article prefix, which may be found clearly drawn out in Nordheimer's Heb. Gram. ii, § 716-729, especially § 717, 718; and depend upon this essential principle, that the article may be omitted before any word that is regarded as being already sufficiently definite, either by reason of being in construction with another noun, adjective, pronoun, or other qualifying term, or by being distinctive in itself, so as not to be specially liable to misinterpretation.