Re: Corporate pronouns

James H. Vellenga (
Wed, 6 Nov 96 10:45:00 EST

> From: "Bruce L. Thacker" <>
> I have enjoy reading the verious opinions expressed
> since I started receiving this digest last month. Now I have
> a question and will try and post it. For some time I have
> reflected on the idea of plural pronouns in the genitive that
> modify singular nouns. The subject came up in studying 1 Cor
> 6:19 where there is one body and plural you. I have thought
> that the body that is the temple in not the believers' bodies
> but the church. 1 Cor 3:16 is related, a plural este with a
> singular temple, "you all are a temple."
> The question arose again today in Phil 2:12, "heautwn
> swthrian." This is a plural pronoun with a singular
> salvation. Hawthorne in his commentary on Philippians sees
> this to mean the "spiritual health within the church" (p.
> 99).
> Here is my question. How common is this plural
> pronoun with a singular noun and is there some corporate
> question implied. Thanks.
> Bruce
> Bruce Thacker
> 127 W Roosevelt St., Shelton, WA 98584
> H: (360) 427-1614 W: (360) 426-4697
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My own observation is that the combination of a plural possessive
pronoun with a singular noun is not at all unusual.

It may be that the usage would not seem so strange to us if English
distinguished between the singular and plural forms of "your". Let me
imagine for a moment that a Southern (U.S.) style evangelist is up in
front saying in highly modulated tones:

"Yuh've GOT to have the word of GOD in your HEART!"

Here he's speaking to multiple people; if this were translated into NT
Greek, the proper forms for "Yuh've" and "your" would be plural. But he
is in one sense thinking of each member individually, and so he says
"heart" rather than "hearts."

Similarly, if he says,

"I care about your salvation."

he's probably thinking about salvation on an individual level.

An example is John 14.1:

"Don't keep letting your heart be unsettled...."

Or another example of plural/singular combination that doesn't even use
a pronoun is Matt 5.8:

"Fortunate [are] the ones pure in the heart ..."

It seems to me that a plural possessive with a singular noun could also
refer to something shared or in common, but I have found it hard this
morning to come up with an example that was unambiguously referring to
something shared.

Jim V.

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