ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

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Andrew Chapman
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ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

Post by Andrew Chapman » October 29th, 2013, 3:06 pm

In Daniel Wallace's Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, he includes a 'Genitive of subordination (over)' in his list of types of genitive. He says it relates only to head nouns whose meaning conveys the idea of authority, citing βασιλεῦς and ἂρχων in particular. He says that 'for the most part, this genitive is a subset of the subjective genitive', exceptions occurring when the head noun does not convey a verbal idea. In his discussion of subjective and objective genitives, he cites βασιλεῦς specifically as a verbal noun related to βασιλεύω as cognate, so this clearly is not one of the exceptions, and it is also clear that the verbal idea in ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ is to rule or reign, rather than, say, to be in subordination to.

It seems to me that this is an objective genitive, not a subjective one. Some one is ruling over Israel, not the other way around. Am I missing something?

Andrew
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 30th, 2013, 9:13 am

I think you know what ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ means. I don't think the metalanguage is helping you. The labels aren't a way to figure out what the text means, the labels just say how you decided to interpret it. At best, they can be a checklist of possibilities to consider. In most cases, if you pay close attention to the context and the subject matter, that is more helpful than the checklists.

But I also think you understand the metalanguage correctly. Ἰσραήλ is undeclined, but is genitive in this phrase, βασιλεὺς is a verbal noun related to the verb βασιλεύω, the King is the subject of βασιλεύω, Ἰσραήλ is the object, so the genitive identifies the object.

And I think Wallace is pretty confusing here, I don't really like his checklist for Genitives.

Here's a 1997 post from the B-Greek mailing list.
While wrestling with genitives one more time, I was struck by the differences between Wallace's treatment of genitive and the discussion in Zerwick or BDR, especially with respect to subjective and objective genitive. I see the same kinds of differences in our discussions here.

Wallace's grammar almost always takes a strongly analytical approach. He sees subjective and objective genitive as clear categories, and suggests litmus tests, e.g. "When an objective genitive is suspected, attempt to convert the verbal noun to which the genitive is related into a verbal form and turn the genitive into its direct object. Thus, for example, 'a demonstration of his righteousness" in Rom 3:25 becomes "demonstrating his righteousness'." (Wallace, p. 117)

Zerwick tends to be more synthetic. He does not list separate categories for subjective and objective genitive. Instead, he refers to the "general genitive". He mentions the two different possible meanings of phrases like hH AGAPH TOU PATROS, but he says that "In interpreting the sacred text, however, we must beware lest we sacrifice to clarity of meaning part of the fulness of the meaning. For example, in hH GAR AGAPH TOU XRISTOU SUNEXEI hHMAS (2 Cor 5.14), is XRISTOU an objective or a subjective genitive? We must answer that neither of these alone corresponds fully to the sense of the text; the objective genitive (Paul's love for Christ) does not suffice for, apart from the fact that Paul usually renders the objective-genitive sense by EIS (cf. Col 1.4), the reason which he adds speaks of the love which Christ manifested for us in dyning for all men; nor is the subjective genitive (Christ's love for us) fully satisfactory by itself, because the love in question is a living force working in the spirit of the apostle. In other words, we cannot simply classify this genitive under either heading without neglecting a part of it's value" (Zerwick, p. 13)

So I looked up 2 Cor 5.14 in Wallace, and found that Wallace quotes Zerwick, and creates a *new* category, the "plenary genitive", which describes genitives that are simultaneously subjective and objective. And here, Wallace suggests the possibility of intentional ambiguity, pregnant meaning, double entendre. However, the "plenary genitive" neatly incorporates only the combination of subjective and objective genitive. Zerwick's discussion implies that it isn't that clean-cut: "...the fundamental force of the genitive, namely the indication of the appurtenance of one notion to another. The exact nature of that appurtenance, of the relation between the notions, depends upon context and subject matter, so that of itself the use of the genitive may have as many varieties as there are ways in which two notions may be associated." (Zerwick, p. 14)

So I turned to BDR for an authoritative answer, and read: "Division into objective genitive, subjective genitive, etc. is merely an attempt to emphasize some of the many possible uses of the adnominal genitive".
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Andrew Chapman
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Re: ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

Post by Andrew Chapman » October 30th, 2013, 4:21 pm

Thanks, Jonathan, very much. I wanted to check that I was right in thinking that Wallace has it the wrong way around here, according to his own way of thinking. I didn't mean to suggest that I necessarily accept his scheme, although I have found found it very helpful in beginning to think about the genitive case. I tend to think that one might discard it, more or less, as one grows in the knowledge of the language. That said, the distinction between objective and subjective (for example) seems to me quite helpful as a way to define alternative ways of rendering a phrase like, say, ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ. I find it a little curious though, that while there seems to be similar potential for ambiguity in English, we very rarely experience any uncertainty about what we read or hear in our own language - except perhaps in our translations of the bible. Is there more actual deliberate ambiguity in the inspired text, or is that we lack the innate feel for the language that would render certain what we now find uncertain?

Andrew
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Re: ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 30th, 2013, 4:41 pm

Andrew Chapman wrote:That said, the distinction between objective and subjective (for example) seems to me quite helpful as a way to define alternative ways of rendering a phrase like, say, ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ. I find it a little curious though, that while there seems to be similar potential for ambiguity in English, we very rarely experience any uncertainty about what we read or hear in our own language - except perhaps in our translations of the bible. Is there more actual deliberate ambiguity in the inspired text, or is that we lack the innate feel for the language that would render certain what we now find uncertain?
I suspect there are two factors: (1) we're used to ambiguity in our native language, when someone points it out, it doesn't make us wonder why our native language is so weird, (2) we tend to pick apart biblical texts in a way that we do not pick apart everyday text.

Here are some similar English phrases I found quickly by Googling:

* The shooting of the hunters (were the hunters shot, or did they do the shooting?)
* The interview of the journalist (was the journalist interviewed, or did the journalist conduct an interview?)

I think that kind of construction is easy to create with any verbal noun and a noun that can serve as either subject or object.

But in English, we generally use another form of ambiguous genitive:

* The child's picture (a picture of the child, or a picture that belongs to the child?)
* The woman's book (did she write it, or does it belong to her?)
* The minister's wedding (is he conducting it, or getting married?)

Note that I didn't need any categories to point out the possible ambiguities. I'm not against categories, but the basic point is that a genitive points to a relationship of some kind, and you need the context to figure out what that relationship is. If the above examples occurred in a sentence or paragraph, the intended meaning might well be obvious. That is usually the case in Greek as well. In Greek or in English, there are also ambiguous cases.
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Re: ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

Post by Stephen Carlson » October 30th, 2013, 6:28 pm

Andrew Chapman wrote:In Daniel Wallace's Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, he includes a 'Genitive of subordination (over)' in his list of types of genitive. He says it relates only to head nouns whose meaning conveys the idea of authority, citing βασιλεῦς and ἂρχων in particular. He says that 'for the most part, this genitive is a subset of the subjective genitive', exceptions occurring when the head noun does not convey a verbal idea.
Well, that's strange. In my copy of the grammar, Wallace says "objective genitive," not "subjective genitive" (p. 103).
Andrew Chapman wrote:It seems to me that this is an objective genitive, not a subjective one. Some one is ruling over Israel, not the other way around. Am I missing something?
Your instincts appear to be right, but I think you should double-check your notes, or better yet the original reference.
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Re: ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

Post by Andrew Chapman » October 31st, 2013, 12:36 pm

Thanks, Jonathan, those are good examples. As you say, the context usually makes it obvious, at least in practical matters, such as hunters shooting or being shot. Perhaps when it comes to matters of revelation regarding spiritual realities, we don't really have a reference point with which to remove the ambiguity, since we are reliant on what the bible reveals in the first place.

Thanks very much, Stephen, for clearing that up: it sounds like it has been corrected: at page 103 -

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3myvz ... sp=sharing

Andrew
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Re: ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

Post by Stephen Carlson » October 31st, 2013, 1:45 pm

Andrew Chapman wrote:Thanks very much, Stephen, for clearing that up: it sounds like it has been corrected: at page 103 -
That's good news. I wonder how many other errors had been fixed too.
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Re: ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 31st, 2013, 2:04 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Andrew Chapman wrote:In Daniel Wallace's Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, he includes a 'Genitive of subordination (over)' in his list of types of genitive. He says it relates only to head nouns whose meaning conveys the idea of authority, citing βασιλεῦς and ἂρχων in particular. He says that 'for the most part, this genitive is a subset of the subjective genitive', exceptions occurring when the head noun does not convey a verbal idea.
Well, that's strange. In my copy of the grammar, Wallace says "objective genitive," not "subjective genitive" (p. 103).
My 1996 copy does say subjective, as Andrew suggests. It does look like this was fixed.
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Re: ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

Post by Stephen Carlson » October 31st, 2013, 5:50 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:My 1996 copy does say subjective, as Andrew suggests. It does look like this was fixed.
Mine is copyrighted 1996 too, and there is no indication of a revised or corrected printing, though there must have been. If I am reading the printing information correctly on the copyright page, I have the 19th printing from 2007.
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Re: ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ: objective or subjective genitive?

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 31st, 2013, 5:59 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:My 1996 copy does say subjective, as Andrew suggests. It does look like this was fixed.
Mine is copyrighted 1996 too, and there is no indication of a revised or corrected printing, though there must have been. If I am reading the printing information correctly on the copyright page, I have the 19th printing from 2007.
I suspect I have the first printing, there is no mention of an earlier printing on the copyright page that I can see. I know I got it in 1996 or 1997, I just verified that by searching the B-Greek archives.
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