Re: Predicate Nominatives

Carl W. Conrad (
Thu, 30 Jan 1997 09:18:07 -0600

At 8:43 AM -0600 1/30/97, Gary S. Shogren wrote:
>Dear B-Greekers,
>In Romans 14:17 you have "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking=
>but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." I'll let interested
>parties check out the Greek.
>Eating and drinking are predicate nominatives, and the triad at the end are
>alternate ones. Obviously Paul is not strictly DEFINING the _basileia_ wit=
>these P.N.'s. I like Dunn's suggestion that we translate "does not consist
>in" these activities, and would observe that in the context Paul is saying
>something like: "the kingdom of God does not operate on the level of food
>scruples, and in fact does not concern itself with things like that. Focus
>on the real issues of the Christian life."
>I think the pred. nouns convey a description of the Kingdom that is more
>striking than, say, a predicate adjective. Sort of like the Johannine "God
>is love" rather than "God is loving". I can't find any help in BDF or
>Robertson on these types of predicates. Any thoughts on what you might cal=
>it? or any resources?
>Additionally - 1 Cor. 4:20 says that the kingdom is not _en logw_ but _in
>dunamei_ - a similar setup, but with prepositional phrases in the predicate=

I don't exactly see what's problematic here; I quite agree with everything
you say about Paul's intent in Romans 14:17. It occurs to me that you won't
find anything in particular in BDF about this because it's not so much a
matter of GRAMMAR (the predicate nominative construction) as it is a matter
of STYLE. These short pithy statements are very compact "sententiae;" you
might compare Callimachus' MEGA BIBLION MEGA KAKON, which has to be
explained in its context to be understood but which encapsulates a whole
literary philosophy; or such statements as CALEPA TA KALA. A perusal of the
sayings of the "Seven Sages" in Diels-Kranz _Fragmente der Vorsokratiker
#10 will disclose quite a few of these pithy formulae, and are there not
quite a few of them also among the sayings--aphorisms--of Jesus? Although I
haven't checked it, you might find something useful in Aune's book (title
escapes me right now) on literary types represented in the NT literature.

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