Lesson 12: Nouns/The Third Declension, Nominal Word Clusters


170. Class 3. Neuter nouns in -τ-

Classes 1. and 2. are composed of masculine and feminine nouns. With class 3. is met the first group of neuter nouns in the third declension (the other large group is class 6.). The fact that these nouns are neuter immediately suggests three characteristics, following the model, τί:

1. The nom. and acc. sing, will be identical;

2. The nom. and acc. plur. will be identical (both characteristics apply also to neuter nouns of II.3., and thus to all neuter nouns).

3. The middle cases (gen., dat.) are identical with the corresponding masc.-fem. forms (this applies also to the masculine-feminine nouns of II. 1. and II. 2. in relation to the neuter nouns of II.3.).

To be reckoned with, therefore, are only the nom. and acc. of both numbers. Again following τί, it can be said:

1. The nom. and acc. sing, have no ending: the question then becomes, what is the stem, and can the consonants which end it stand at the end of a word?

2. The nom. and acc. plur. end in -α, as do neuter nouns of II.3. and the article (τά).

The first point is the crucial one for identifying nouns of this class, especially in moving from an oblique case or the nom. plur. to the nom. sing, and hence the lexical form.

1700. Class 3. is large and again must be divided into two subclasses: 3.a. neuters in -μα, gen. -ματος, and 3.b. neuters following this declension pattern but having irregular nom. (and therefore acc.) singulars.

171. Class 3.a. Neuter nouns in -μα

  ὄνομα, ὀνόματος, τό name                                
N ὄνομα ( < -ματ ) ὀνόματα
G ὀνόματος ὀνομάτων
D ὀνόματι ὀνόμασι(ν) ( < -ματσι )
A ὄνομα ( < -ματ ) ὀνόματα

1710. Notes:

1710.1 The nom. and acc. sing, have no ending. Since τ cannot stand at the end of a word (§923), it is dropped.

1710.2 τ disappears before σ in the dat. plur. (§927).

172. Class 3.b. Other neuter nouns belonging to this class

These nouns exhibit the same declension pattern as do the neuters in class 3.a., except for the nom. and acc. sing. Several of these nouns originally belonged to other classes but were subsequently assimilated to the pattern of neuter stems in -τ-. This accounts in part for the irregular nom. (and hence acc.) sing.

Nouns in this group may be further subdivided in relation to the form of the nom. and acc. sing.

172.1 stems which have short nom. (and acc.) sing, but not -μα

μέλι, μέλιτος, τό honey
οἱνόμελι, οἰνομέλιτος, τό honeyed wine (IgnTr 6:2)
γάλα, γάλακτος, τό milk
γόνυ, γόνατος, τό knee
δόρυ, δόρατος, τό spear (IgnPol 16:2)

172.2 stems with nom. (and acc.) sing, in -ρ

ὕδωρ, ὕδατος, τό water
στέαρ, στέατος, τό fat (I Clem 4:1, Barn 2:5)
φρέαρ, φρέατος, τό well

172.3 stems with nom. (and acc.) sing, in -ας

κέρας, κέρατος, τό horn
πέρας, πέρατος, τό end, limit
τέρας, τέρατος, τό portent
ἅλας, ἅλατος, τό salt

172.4 stems with nom. (and acc.) sing, in -ς

φῶς, φωτός, τό light
οὖς, ὠτός, τό ear

1720. Notes:

1720.1 Group (1): -τ and -κτ cannot stand at the end of a word (§923). γόνυ, δόρυ are really old υ-stems which have been assimilated to the pattern of τ-stems.

1720.2 Groups (2), (3), (4) have parallel stems in -ρ, -ας, -ς, respectively, and in -τ.

For ἅλας, ἅλατος, τό cf. §1821.4.

1720.4 σάββατον, σαββάτου, τό (II. 3.) has a dat. plur. σάββασιν on the analogy of neuter nouns in -τ- (Bl-D §52).

173. The nom. sing, (lexical form) of neuter nouns in -τ- may be discovered by the following process of elimination:

173.1 acc. sing. = nom. sing.

173.2 drop τ (κτ) plus the ending (dat. plur.: drop -σι[ν])(all class 3.a. nouns and group (1) in class 3.b.).

173.3 drop τ plus the ending (dat. plur.: drop -σι[ν]) and add ρ or σ (Group (2) — (4) of class 3.b.).

173.4 γόνυ, δόρυ and ὕδωρ remain special cases.

1730. A catalogue of class 3.a. nouns appearing in the New Testament ten times or more may be found in Appendix II. A complete catalogue of class 3.b. may be found in §172 and Appendix II.

174. Nominal word clusters with genitive modifiers. The article was considered as structure signal in §§125-129. Additional word groups initiated by prepositions were considered in §§140-147. Another common minimal word cluster consists of one noun (in any case) qualified by another in the genitive case (the relation of the latter to the former is often represented by the preposition of in English: §112.1). One or both nouns may be accompanied by the article. For example,

(1) τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου
the light of the world
Jn 8:12                  

contains two subclusters, τὸ φῶς and τοῦ κόσμου the second of which (in the genitive case) further specifies the first. The following clusters are identical in structure:

(2) τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς
the light of life
Jn 8:12                     
(3) τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου
the son of man
Jn 8:28
(4) τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ θεοῦ
the words of God
Jn 8:47

175. These clusters appear with and without the article(s). The word order may vary. The following examples illustrate the various possibilities.

(5) τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων Jn 1:4                                   
(6) υἱοὶ φωτός Jn 12:26
(7) ἄγγελον φωτός 2 Cor 11:14
(8) τέκνα φωτός Eph 5:8
(9) ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ Jn 1:34
(10) Σίμον, ὁ υἱὸς Ἰωάννου jn 1:42
(11) Ἰησοῦν, υἱὸν τοῦ Ἰωσήφ Jn 1:45
(12) ὁ υἱὸς τῆς Μαρίας Mk 6:3
(13) Φαρισαῖος, υἱὸς Φαρισαῖων Acts 23:6
(14) τὴν σάρκα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου Jn 6:53
(15) ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ υἱὸς, Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς 2 Cor 1:19
(16) ῥήματα ζωῆς Jn 6:68
(17) ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ Jn 10:35
(18) ὁ λόγος τοῦ Ἰησοῦ Jn 18:32
(19) ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου Acts 12:24
(20) ὁ λόγος τῆς σωτηρίας Acts 13:26
(21) ὁ λόγος ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ 1 Cor 1:18

Further treatment of this type of cluster is to be found in §§695ff.

1750. Notes:

1750.1 ῥῆμα = λόγος (in these contexts)

1750.2 Word order may vary:

a) ὁ -ος τοῦ -ου
b) ὁ τοῦ -ου -ος
c) ὁ -ος ὁ τοῦ -ου (article of the initial term repeated)

176. In noun identification, attention should be diverted from the single word to the cluster wherever possible. Identification of the noun in context means seizing the noun in relation to the grammatical structure in which it appears. Early facility with nouns depends on the ability to read all the signals, not just the case ending of the nouns.