Randy Leedy (
Mon, 20 Jan 1997 20:45:17 -0500


Jonathan wrote:

>>>Since there are so many categories of genitives, and Ephesians 1
has so many genitives to categorize, I can come up with lots of
possibilities, but I don't know how to rule any of them out. I'm
trying to find some guidelines to help me choose one interpretation
over another.

I can see why you say "unto the glorious praise of His grace", but
could this also mean "unto the praise of the glory of His grace"? Why
would I prefer one over the other?

The key to this use of the genitive is the fact that the genitive
word in question is semantically an abstraction that can be taken as
attributing a quality to the pre-genitive, and the second genitive
can also be construed with the original pre-genitive. When the first
genitive (the abstraction) is anarthrous, which is not always the
case, then the reasons for construing the grammar this way are all
the more convincing.

Another point: as best I recall, this construction usually ends with
a possessive pronoun, reflecting the pronominal suffix in Hebrew,
which cannot attach to the original pregenitive. A noun with a
pronominal suffix cannot be in construct to another noun (putting a
noun in the construct state, which is something roughly akin to a
case inflection, is Hebrew's way of indicating that the following
word is to be understood as a genitive). So if the Hebrew writer
wants to say "His powerful word," and he doesn't have an adjective
meaning "powerful," he's in a dilemma. He can say "his word," but he
can't put that expression in construct to the noun "power" in order
to say "his word of power." He has to leave the suffix until the end
of the expression and say "the word of the power of him"; i.e., "the
word of his power" or "his powerful word." Notice that the expression
"of his power" should not be taken as a topical genitive explaining
the content of the message represented by "word." Rather, "word"
represents the act of speaking; "his" is a subjective genitive, and
"of power" is descriptive. The context of the Hebrews passage I cited
earlier (1:3) demands this understanding of the phrase.

In a nutshell, with any given string of genitives involving an
abstraction in the middle position and ending with a personal
pronoun, try taking the abstraction as an adjective and construing
any subsequent genitives with the original pre-genitive. If this
construction seems to yield good sense, you're grammatically
justified in taking it that way. I hope this is clear enough and
accurate enough to be of help. If refinements or corrections are in
order, I'm sure someone will step in.

Randy Leedy