An example of finding grammatical evidence

In my prior post I raised a question about the force of the conjunction καί in Philippians 3:10 and the need for grammatical research to answer the question. But this raises an entirely new question: What type of reasoning do I need to find here? Put another way, what evidence would best serve to answer the question? Some evidence is simply unavailable to me: I cannot ask Paul what he intended, nor can I query the Philippians on which meaning they understood here. I do have the evidence of modern translations and interpreters, but this is secondary evaluation and hence interpretive. The best evidence would be direct, primary evidence, that is, similar language in Paul’s writings which could then be compared and contrasted, or failing that, within Koine Greek as a whole. And it would be a similar grammatical construction, so like would be compared to like. This leads me then to describe accurately and fully what the grammatical structure of Phil 3:10 is which affects the meaning, and then to use the tools at my disposal to find similar occurrences of this grammatical construction in other passages. In Phil 3:10 we have a verb followed by three accusative substantives. The first is a pronoun; the second two are nouns. In between the three accusative substantives are the occurrences of the conjunction καί. So in essence what I want to find is

verb + pronoun in accusative case + καί + noun in accusative case + καί + noun in accusative case

with the goal of examining the meaning of the first καί in the construction.[1]

To find this construction in the NT or elsewhere, the best tool would be a Bible software program that can search the original languages. For this search I dug up my Accordance installation.[2] Here is an image of the construct I created to find this:


I added some other parameters to ensure the results I found were similar to what was in Phil 3:10. Knowing that there would be other words in the mix, I allowed for there to be some distance between each of the accusative words. I also did not allow any verbs to show up between the accusatives, as I wanted the accusatives to all be direct objects of the first verb. In the next post I’ll take a look at the evidence I found.

  1. Someone may object that there are other features of Phil 3:10 which I haven’t noted. For example, the verb is an articular infinitive and there are various articles and modifiers used with the two nouns. I have ignored these because in my judgment these do not impact the meaning of the conjunction. How did I make that judgment? Through my intuitive sense about how these words are working together. And here we go again . . .  ↩

  2. Even though DTS has a contract with Logos, I still use Accordance and BibleWorks regularly. They do complex language searches like this better, plus I like to stay on top of all the programs so I can better help students who use them.  ↩