Nominative absolutes

A K M Adam (
17 Dec 96 14:56:25 EST


>>Is this a nominative absolute?

>Let us not even speak of such things as nominative absolutes! This is
>an ordinary circumstantial participle, in agreement with the subject (
>the relative clause with antecedent implicit in the pronoun--'those
>who'--OSOI ... KTHTORES XWRIWN H OIKIWN hUPHRXON). "Those who owned
>plots of land or houses would sell them (ptc. stands for a parallel
>imperfect) and bring the proceeds of what they had sold."

No, let's *do* talk about nominative absolutes. A colleague called me two years ago to inquire about
what he thought might be a nominative absolute in Ecclesiastes (I don't recall the chapter &
verse--I'll get back with specifics). When he asked, I indicated skepticism but (as a good Middle
Greek <g>) I looked in all my reference books and found very little helpful discussion.

Smyth doesn't mention the category, though there is an allusion to the nominativus pendens,
which I take to be distinct from a true (hypothetical) nominative absolute; BDF simply discusses
instances of syntactically awkward nominatives (the index sends an inquirer straight to
"anacoluthon"); Robertson/Davis have a section on the nominative absolute, but it's another
grab-bag. Zerwick spends a lot of time on the nominativus pendens--little or none on absolutes.
Now Daniel Wallace has a thorough treatment of nominatives (TO KAINOTATOS). He will admit as
nominative absolutes only the uses of the nom for titles, addresses, and salutations; what I was
looking for (way back when and now) was more like the usage Wallace characterizes as "Nominative
in proverbial expressions," citing as examples 2 Pt 2:22 (KUWN EPISTREPSAS EPI TO IDION
SOPHOUS EN THi PANOURGIAi AUTWN) and referring to the seminal discussion of our own Carlton

So, Carl, why don't you want to talk about it? What's the rationale (MEN) for abjuring nominative
absolutes, or (DE) distinguishing the title/address/salute usage as a true nom absolute from the
proverbial usage, which is for some reason less a nom absolute? Or is it just a beehive that you
were wishing no one would poke? (If so, sorry; I just want to learn more.)

Grace and peace,
Princeton Theological Seminary

"To translate is human; to parse, divine"