Information Structure of "The Lord's Prayer" (revised)


I wanted to practice my reading of Information Structure (IS) in Greek so I figured a familiar text would be a good place to start. Here are some initial comments on my take of the information structure of "the Lord's prayer" (really, it's the disciples' how-to) in Matt 6. Feel free to expand on or question. I'll probably diagnose something wrong.

6.9a Οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς·

6.9b Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·

6.9c ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου·

All seems pretty default here. Though I'm not sure about 6.9a...

6.10a ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου·

6.10b γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου,

6.10c ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς·

Is there something unusual about 6.10c? If so, how do you decide which phrase is marked? I would think that ὡς marks an ensuing proposition that is contingent upon a (typically) previously stated comparison. In other words, that Z should be done "on earth, as it's done in heaven." So because this latter comparison is moved before the specified geographical location, I think ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ is fronted—and done so to give prominence to this comparative proposition. According to English principles of information structure being indicated via prosody we might say, "... and let your wishes come true on earth, just like they do in heaven!" Some other reasons I think it's marked focus (P2) is because the propositional content of what is preposed pertains more information about the comment, and not further info on the topic, viz. "as it is in heaven" relates to how God's will is done and kingdom comes, not the will or kingdom itself.

REVISED: I'm not satisfied with my above analysis. It's not right for me to isolate 6.10c as if it can be analyzed on its own as able to represent constituents that are in either P1 or P2 positions. Such positions are discourse elements that prepose the verb; here, however, the phrase "ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς" proceeds the verb and subject (which also happens to be the object, due to the middle/passive aspect of the verbal voice). 6.10c can thus be considered to be in a default position.

With that being said however, I still wonder if either "as in heaven" or "and on earth" can be analyzed as having a default/marked ordering. That is, can either locational constituent be considered more core than the other (thus, indicating a core-peripheral distinction)? If so, then I'd like to know if this phrase (6.10c) is following the default core-peripheral constituent order or not... Any ideas?

Good news: we got confirmation that Aslan will be in heaven.

6.11a [τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον] δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον·

The bracketed phrase is fronted to indicate this entity (i.e. "daily bread") becoming a new topic (or point of departure) for the ensuing comment. It would thus be considered to be in the P1 position.

6.12a καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν,

6.12b ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν·

The independent pronoun is preposed before the main verb in P1 to indicate a topic shift. In 6.12a we learn that God forgives the sin of the pray-er, and in the following line we see that the pray-er (the one requesting forgiveness) is one himself that echoes this activity that he is requesting. So there's a shift in who is doing the forgiving from God (the active topic in 6.12a) to the one praying (the active topic in 6.12b).

6.13a καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν,

6.13b ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

Nothing fancy. All default here. The verbs are first, followed by the objects and finally the prepositional phrases, viz. Verb – Core constituents – Peripheral constituents.

6.14a Ἐὰν γὰρ ἀφῆτε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν,

6.14b ἀφήσει καὶ ὑμῖν ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος·

Default here, too. Some might think that ὑμῖν in 6.14b is moved forward before the subject for emphasis, likely out of exegetical/theological concerns, but there is nothing unusual here as far as word order is concerned. However, that's not to say the "stress" we hear in the statement "our father forgives even you" isn't there—just that the manner in which the information is structured does not indicative of this. Rather, the adverbial function of καὶ (not conjunctive, here) conveys this accent in focus on the constituent ὑμῖν ("you"). So, in this case, prominence is marked by overt lexicalization and not word order variation. [Or am I wrong? I'm kinda new to this...]

6.15a ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀφῆτε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις,

6.15b οὐδὲ [ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν] ἀφήσει τὰ παραπτώματα ὑμῶν.

In 6.15b "our father" is preposed to the P1 position to indicate a topic shift, very similar to the one in 6.12. Other than that, all is standard constituent ordering.

Any feedback on these comments is welcome. I know I have much to learn.

UPDATE: I see now that Levinsohn (2000:49; §4.1) suggests that "our father" is not in P1 but P2 position. It is not indicative of a topic shift but of constituent focus, since it is preposed "immediately after the negative (rather than at the end of the sentence—see sec. 3.5)". But assumes "our father" is given prominence by the movement rather than marking a topic shift (from "you" to "father"). I'm still not sure I agree with Levinsohn, here. In favor of my reading is also the fact that P1 (topic) can usually be distinguished from P2 (focus) in that the former is often articular while the latter is not.