Re: MOI use of dative in John 10:37

Carl W. Conrad (
Tue, 27 Aug 1996 16:16:47 -0500

At 12:51 PM -0500 8/27/96, Patrick J. Brennan wrote:
>I am learning greek on my own and I appreciate this list for the service it
>provides to people like myself who have no other means of asking
>questions. It is
>exciting to be personally challenged by this list and I am grateful to
>those of you
>who take the time to answer questions that may be less than challenging for
>In John 10:37 I wonder why the dative MOI is used instead of the
>accusative ME.
>Also, I see the last phrase MH PISTEUETE MOI translated as:
>do not believe me.
>Could it be translated:
>do not believe IN me?
>I am interested primarily in why the dative was used and what range of
>the dative MOI carries.

What you really need to do is to study the entries as cataloged in a good
lexicon under PISTEUW; you'll find quite a variety, ranging from PISTEUW +
dative for "believe, trust (a person)" to PISTEUW + accusative of the thing
credited (e.g. PISTEUW TA hRHMATA MOU) or a substantive clause (e.g.,
PISTEUW hOTI SWSEI hHMAS hO KURIOS). In the NT Koine one quite frequently
finds EIS + a personal pronoun--perhaps a Semitism--as equivalent to the
older and more standard Greek dative of the person trusted or believed.

The verse you've cited follows the older Greek tradition: PISTEUW is an
intransitive verb completed by a dative of the personal pronoun: ARA
PISTEUEIS MOI? = "Do you believe me?" or "Do you trust me?"

But PISTEUW is a flexible verb (I might even call it "volatile") and we
have also had many a discussion of the varied uses of the cognate noun,
PISTIS as used with an objective genitive which may stand for either the
dative or the accusative complement of the verb PISTEUW--or even for a
subjective genitive.

As I said at the outset, this is a matter that really requires some study
of a lexicon rather than a quick answer, all the more so in that the verb
is loaded with theological baggage, no matter what one's religious
persuasion may be.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR