The nominal system is presented in §§100-274 (Lessons 5-19)


For reading and reference

100. Greek, by comparison with English, is a highly inflected language. Inflection (also called accidence) refers to the changes words undergo in accordance with their grammatical function in the sentence. Inflection in nouns is called declension; in verbs conjugation. In this respect Greek has more affinity with Latin and German than with French and English. The student who has first learned another inflected language will find Greek easier than the student who must rely solely on English for analogies.

English is by no means uninflected. Yet the student to whom English is native will not have noticed inflection in the way in which he will notice it in Greek. He has perhaps struggled with the difference between who (subjective) and whom (objective), but may not have noticed that whose (possessive or genitive) is also a part of the inflection of the relative pronoun. Similarly, I and me, he and him, she and her (personal pronouns) show inflectional differences which are related to person (first and third persons), gender (masculine and feminine), and grammatical function (case).

This undergoes an inflectional change in the plural: these. That becomes those. English normally forms the plural by adding s or es: clock becomes clocks, watch becomes watches. Child, on the other hand, becomes children.

Inflectional change to represent gender is also not unknown in English. It has already been noted in the personal pronoun of the third person: he, she, it. Some nouns show a difference between masculine and feminine, e.g. prince and princess, governor and governess.

Inflectional changes are common in the verbal system as well (cf. §§300-302). The basic forms of the English verb (called principal parts) are formed regularly (call, called, called) or irregularly (speak, spoke, spoken). In the former (called weak verbs), -ed (or -d) is added to the present to form the past and the past participle; in the latter (strong verbs), the verb undergoes some internal change. The verb is also modified to indicate person in the third person singular of the present tense, e.g. I call, but he calls (add -s) . The verb be is highly inflected: am (be), was, been (principal parts); am, are, is (first, second, third person singular, present tense). The present participle and gerund are formed by adding -ing to the present: being, calling, speaking. The infinitive is often formed with to: to be, to call, to speak.

Although inflection in English is greatly reduced, there are sufficient inflectional changes in English to provide analogies to many changes in Greek. By noting these analogies, the student will grasp the rationale of the Greek system more readily, clarify his understanding of English, and perhaps come to a new appreciation of the relative simplicity of his own language.

1000. Sections I (The Nominal System) and II (The Verbal System) are designed to help the student grasp the inflectional patterns of the Greek language. These patterns are to be learned, in the sense of habituated, as part of the sight and sound of the language. Learning to respond immediately and without deliberation to these patterns will take place most effectively in the context of the word cluster, in connection with other structure signaling items, e.g. prepositions. Only a few things will require memorization by rote (without context), but those which do must be mastered.

The habituation of the patterns will require the 'reading' of a considerable amount of Greek. Reading means practicing the sound patterns of Greek. Sound patterns are, of course, intertwined with the grammatical structure of phrases, clauses, and sentences. Reading will therefore lead to the ability to seize the structure of word clusters, of longer and shorter compass, in relation to inflectional patterns and other structure signaling elements. Along the way, the reader will acquire some major vocabulary, and will come to understand the meaning of many words and word clusters. One does not have to complete an extensive course in grammar to be able to read Greek any more than one has to study the grammar of his own language to be able to understand and speak it.

The presentations in the lessons will provide only a minimum amount of material for reading practice. For practice any portion of the Greek New Testament or other Greek text is suitable. The Workbook provides a reading program and other devised exercises, to go with each of the lessons.

101. Nouns, adjectives, pronouns and pronominal adjectives share inflectional characteristics and patterns and so constitute the nominal system. Participles, being both verbal adjective (the participle in English) and verbal noun (the gerund in English), are declined like adjectives and thus belong, in this respect, to the nominal system; participles also have certain characteristics of verbs, as a consequence of which they must be treated in the verbal system as well. The verbal system embraces the finite verb (i.e. restricted with respect to person and number), the infinitive (i.e. unrestricted), and the participle. Prepositions, adverbs (for the most part), conjunctions and particles are not inflected. Cf. §§010-014.

For the use of traditional designations for 'parts of speech,' s. §§010-011.

102. The inflectional paradigm for the Greek noun will exhibit the case-forms (§1052) for each of two numbers. The English relative pronoun may be utilized as an analogy to indicate how the paradigm for the noun will look:

    Singular Plural
Subjective (nominative) who
Possessive (genitive) whose whose
  (dative) (to, for) whom (to, for) whom
Objective (accusative) whom whom

An inflectional paradigm is a model which illustrates the inflectional changes for a specific pattern of declension or conjugation. The inflectional paradigm has been utilized traditionally as a device in learning the inflectional patterns by rote. In this grammar it is used primarily for reference, but there are a few basic paradigms which must be mastered.

The English relative shows three cases (subjective, possessive, objective), while Greek has four (the paradigm above is expanded to make it conform to the Greek pattern). The stem who appears in all three cases: who-se, who-m. Inflectional similarities end here, inasmuch as the inflection of the English relative (by comparison with Greek) is reduced: singular and plural are identical, the dative and accusative cases are identical (= the objective case), and there is no way to distinguish between masculine and feminine. In Greek all these distinctions are possible in form as well as function.

The other relative pronouns which and that are uninflected (whose is sometimes used as the possessive of which). Who refers to persons (masculine or feminine); which may be said to be the neuter relative (Jespersen: 203), although it is used of animals as well as things. That has common gender.

The inflectional paradigm for the Greek adjective, including the pronominal adjective, will show the case-forms for each of three genders and two numbers (the masculine and femin-nine forms in some patterns are identical). This makes it possible for any adjective to agree with the term it modifies in gender, number and case. The adjective is not inflected in English.

The personal pronouns belong to a group apart. In English there is a distinctive form for each person and number, with the possibility of distinguishing three genders in the third person singular. The English personal pronoun shows distinguishable subjective and objective cases for the most part.

  Singular Plural
1. Person                     I, me We, us
2. Person                     You, you You, you
3. Person                     He, him
She, her
It, it
They, them

In Greek a pronominal adjective is used for the 3. person both singular and plural, which makes it possible to distinguish gender for both numbers. The 1. and 2. persons are inflected in four cases (as in the case of nouns, adjectives, pronominal adjectives) rather than in two. As in English, the 1. and 2. persons do not indicate gender. The 2. person plural is distinguishable from the 2. person singular in Greek, unlike English.

1. Gender, Number, Case               

0103. Inflection in the nominal system has reference to three factors: gender, number, case.

103. Gender. In English gender may be said to be natural, i.e. males (men and animals) are masculine, females (women and animals) are feminine, and all inanimate things are neuter. There is also a common gender of nouns which denote persons or animals of either sex, e.g. parent, cousin, friend. In relation to Greek, two things require noting:

103.1 In Greek, nouns denoting males are indeed masculine, and nouns denoting females are feminine, but a large number of nouns denoting things which are understood to be neuter in English are either masculine or feminine. Gender is thus both natural and grammatical.2 House is neuter in English as in German (das Haus), but in Greek it is feminine (ἡ οἰκία). Day is feminine in Greek (ἡ ἡμέρα), masculine in German (der Tag), but understood to be neuter in English.

103.2 Gender in English does not affect inflection, except in those nouns for which there are distinct forms for masculine and feminine, and in the pronouns. Of the former, there are some which are cognate,4 e.g. actor-actress, prince-princess, aviator-aviatress (aviatrix], and some which utilize different roots, e.g. husband-wife, nephew-niece, gander-goose (goose is also common gender). Relative pronouns distinguish between masculine-feminine (who] and neuter (which); the third person singular of personal pronouns provides for a triple distinction: he, she, it. It is possible, therefore, to avoid the problem of gender in English for the most part, but in Greek as in German it is essential to know the gender for the purposes of inflection, since not only the endings of the noun but also the endings of words modifying and referring to the noun are affected. For example, the house is worthy (ἡ οἰκία ἀξία Mt 10:13) requires a feminine article (ἡ), and a feminine ending on the predicate adjective (ἀξία) to indicate that it goes with οἰκία, which is feminine. In English there is no inflectional modification in either article or predicate adjective to indicate that house is neuter.


1Greek also has nouns of common gender: ὁ θεός‚ god, ἡ θεός‚ goddess; ὁ and ἡ κάμηλος‚ camel; ὁ παῖς‚ boy, ἡ παῖς‚ girl. /footnote


2Gender in Old English (Anglo-Saxon) was also both natural and grammatical. Grammatical gender may be viewed as simply arbitrary.



3There are, however, some interesting abberations in English gender. Of a boat or racing car it can be said, 'she handles or rides beautifully.' The church is felt to be feminine ("The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord"), as are other institutions (personification). God is taken to be masculine (anthropomorphism). The Holy Spirit is neuter in Greek as in English, but students often write 'he.' What gender are angels? Demons? While gender in Greek and German are often arbitrary, English permits ambiguities at various points.



4I.e., the two forms have a common root.


1030. Gender in Greek may be learned by observation or by consulting a lexicon (dictionary). Gender is always given in the lexical entry by means of the article.

Lexical entries for nouns follow this order: the nominative singular, the genitive singular ending (to establish the declension pattern), and the article in the proper gender. Examples: ζωή, -ῆς, ἡ life; λόγος, -ου, ὁ word.

Gender need not require excessive attention. In a written text one can nearly always deduce the gender of a noun either from the ending of the noun itself, or from the endings of modifying words. Further, nouns should be learned in association with a declension (there are three in Greek: first, second, third) and a declension pattern (e.g., in the first declension nearly all nouns are feminine; masculine nouns of the first declension exhibit a slightly modified declension pattern: §§131-1341). The problem will inevitably arise, however, that one cannot determine which modifiers go with what noun on the basis of word order (in English one is dependent entirely on word order) . In such cases gender is an aid in determining word relationships. While gender is less important than number and case for those interested solely in a reading knowledge of Greek, a certain facility in gender will provide an effective instrument for untangling complicated Greek sentences.

104. Number. Classical Greek had three numbers: singular, dual (two or a pair), and plural. The dual has disappeared in hellenistic Greek, and was never used much. We have therefore to reckon with two numbers in Greek as in English.

1040. In English one normally makes a plural by adding -s (Old English -as, later -es, -s, originally belonging to a limited number of masculines, was subsequently extended to all masculines and finally other genders). There are, however, a few mutation plurals (tooth, teeth; man, men) , and one remnant of the Old English suffix in n: ox, oxen. Then there are the plurals with no change: deer, deer; moose, moose. And finally, English makes use of a few borrowed plurals, e.g. criterion, criteria (from Greek).

The forms of the English plural may be summarized as follows:
  Plural in -s (-es):  
a) simple -s: house, houses
b) -es (following ch, sh, j, s, x, z): church, churches
c) nouns in -o (-s or -es): hero, heroes; piano, pianos
d) nouns in -y (-y preceded by a consonant or consonantal u is changed to i, followed by -es) : city, cities
e) nouns in -f, -fe (add -s, or change f to f and add -es) : belief, beliefs; life, lives
  Mutation plural: mouse, mice; goose, geese; woman, women
  Singular and plural identical: sheep, sheep; trout, trout 1
  Plural by suffix: ox, oxen
  Borrowed plurals:2
a) formula, formulae (also formulas): Latin, first declension, feminine3
b) focus, foci (also focuses): Latin, second declension, masculine-feminine4
c) datum, data: Latin, second declension, neuter5
d) phenomenon, phenomena: Greek, second declension, neuter6
e) thesis, theses: Greek or Latin, third declension, masculine-feminine7
f) cherub, cherubim (also cherubs) : Hebrew1


1Jespersen:196. Cf. child, children; brother, brothers and brethren (now with a difference in meaning); and biblical kine (plural of cow). Cf. German der Mensch, die Menschen (the man, the men) , die Frau, die Frauen (the woman, the women) .



2The phonetic rule for -s or -es is: when the singular ends with a sound with which s can be joined without forming a separate syllable, add -s; otherwise -es. Exception: a final silent -e forms a separate syllable with -s: case, cases; maze, mazes.



1Most of the words with identical singular and plural were originally neuters: swine, deer, sheep. In some cases a double plural arose, e.g. hair, hair and hairs making possible a distinction between a mass and an individual plural. 'He has a mop of hair' but 'the hairs of your head are numbered.' Similarly fish and fowl. (Jespersen:202).



2Borrowed plurals, of course, are used only with loanwords.



3Other examples: alumna, alumnae; vita, vitae.



4 locus, loci; radius, radii; alumnus, alumni; octopus, octopi (most of these words also form an anglicized plural in -s)



5 stratum, strata; memorandum, memoranda; erratum, errata; stadium, stadia (some of these words also form an anglicized plural in -s).



6 noumenon, noumena.



7 hypothesis, hypotheses; crisis, crises; axis, axes; analysis, analyses. Index, indices (also indexes}; appendix, appendices (also appendixes} are also third declension: the final stem consonant c unites with the singular ending s to form the x of the singular; c reappears in the plural followed by the plural ending (-es) .



1 seraph, seraphim (seraphs).


1041. Greek forms its plurals regularly by the addition of endings:

1) -αι (first declension, feminine and masculine); cf. Latin -ae (first declension)
2) -οι (second declension, masculine and feminine)
3) -οι (third declension, masculine and feminine); cf. Latin -es (third and fifth declensions) and English -s, -es
4) -α (all neuters); cf. Latin -a (all neuters)

Thus, οἰκία, οἰκίαι (house, houses); λόγος, λόγοι (word, words); σωτήρ, σωτῆρες (savior, saviors); ἔργον, ἔργα (work, works). There are also some nouns in Greek which, in addition to the use of the regular ending, undergo an internal change in the formation of the plural, e.g. πάτηρ, πατέρες (father, fathers).

On the whole, the formation and use of the plural in Greek will occasion no more difficulty than in English.

1051. Case. Three cases are distinguished grammatically in English. The morphological variables which once marked the case-function of the word within the word itself, however, have virtually disappeared. They are retained only in the s of the possessive and in the pronouns.

With respect to form, nouns in English show only two cases:

  singular plural
subjective house houses  
possessive house's houses'
objective house houses

The subjective and objective cases are identical (for each number) in form; the possessive alone is distinctive. In the pronouns, on the other hand, the objective case is sometimes distinctive (cf. §102), and pronominal adjectives are made to do service for the possessive, e.g. I, my (mine), me; he, his, him (but you, your(s), you [Old English: ye, your, you]). On account of the pronouns, it may be said that English is a three case system in form as well as in function.

1052. Nouns (including pronouns, adjectives and participles) are inflected in Greek in five (counting the vocative) distinctive case-forms. The five forms (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and vocative) represent the eight cases found in Indo-European tongues: the genitive form includes both genitive and ablative, the dative form includes dative, locative, and instrumental. Since the vocative often takes the same form as the nominative and since it is infrequent in any case, the Greek nominal system can be adequately treated, so far as form is concerned, as a four-case system. In the presentation of the declension patterns, four case-forms will therefore be employed: nominative (abbreviated nom., N), genitive (gen., G), dative (dat., D), and accusative (acc., A).

1053. The non-subjective cases (possessive, objective) are called oblique cases. The problem which presents itself to the student who comes to Greek from English is that he has three oblique cases to choose from in Greek (genitive, dative, accusative) , whereas in English he has at most two, one of which is severely limited (possessive).

The grammatical function of the cases is apparently made more complicated in Greek by virtue of the fact that the three oblique cases are always distinguished from each other in form, and in masculine and feminine nouns are often distinguished from the nominative (subjective) case as well.

In dealing with word-groups and the sentence in Greek, it is necessary to learn to rely more heavily on the signals conveyed by the form of words than it is in English. With respect to the oblique cases, moreover, it is often significant to inquire why this oblique case and not some other is employed.

106. Word order and the cases. In English the grammatical function of words is more or less dependent on position in the sentence. For example, in the sentence

(i)           Philip finds Nathanael

Nathanael, the object of the verb, follows the verb, while the subject precedes. This word order cannot be easily modified:

(ii)           Finds Philip Nathanael
(iii)           Philip Nathanael finds
(iv)           Nathanael finds Philip

The order of (ii) is impossible, while that of (iii) is unusual, perhaps acceptable only in certain contexts. The order of (iv) reverses the function of subject and object.

The word order in Jn 1:45 runs:

(1)           εὑρίσκει Φίλιππος τὸν Ναθαναὴλ

The nom. ending of Φίλιππ-ος and the acc. article (τὸν) make the grammatical function of each name clear, without dependence on word order. The words in the Greek sentence may theoretically come in any order:

(2)           Φίλιππος εὑρίσκει τὸν Ναθαναὴλ
(3)           τὸν Ναθαναὴλ Φίλιππος εὑρίσκει
(4)           τὸν Ναθαναὴλ εὑρίσκει Φίλιππος

and so on.

A little more freedom in order is created by introducing a preposition in English:

(v)           Philip says to him

may also run

(vi)           To him Philip says


(vii)           Says to him Philip

is unacceptable.

In Greek (Jn 1:46) the order is the last (vii):

(5)           λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Φίλιππος

But the sequences of (v) and (vi) could also be employed in Greek.

In sum, distinctive case endings make possible a greater freedom in Greek word order than is possible in English. Word relationships in the sentence are determined by the case endings to an extent not possible in English, where word order is the primary factor. The English speaking student, consequently, must be prepared to adjust to what will appear to him to be odd sequences in word order, and must be prepared to depend on case endings to indicate word relationships within the sentence.

107. Function of the eases. English cases are subjective, objective and possessive.

a)     The subjective case is employed when the noun is the subject of a sentence ('the world did not know him'), when it is in apposition to another noun in the subjective case ('Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was ...'), when it is the predicate with a copulative verb ('This is the witness of John'), and when the noun is used as a mode of address (vocative) ('Rabbi, you are the son of God1).
b)      The objective case is employed when the noun is the object of a verb ('they asked him'} or a preposition ('they said to him'). It is also used when the noun is in apposition to another noun in the objective case ("we have found Jesus, the son of Joseph').
c)      Although the possessive case is now largely restricted to personal beings and used mostly to show possession, it has a broader usage, which is complicated some by the encroachment of the preposition of. One can say 'mind's eye' (Shakespeare) or 'day's journey.' Mind and day are not personal beings, nor in the second instance is day's, strictly speaking, possessive: = a journey of a day (genitive of measure).1 Possession, moreover, can be taken in a broad way: there is 'the man's house1 (strict possession), but also "Shakespeare's works' (= works written by Shakespeare), Picasso's2 pictures (= pictures painted by Picasso), the President's death (one could also say, the death of the President; = a death, namely that of the President: here the possessive limits or specifies).3 The possessive in the phrase 'John's witness' is a subjective genitive (= the witnessing done by John), while in the sentence 'he took his rejection placidly,' his is an objective genitive (= the rejection done to him). The possessive case thus has a broader function than mere possession of things by personal beings. When supplemented by the preposition of (of can often be used for the possessive case, e.g. 'eye of the mind," 'journey of a day,' 'witness of John'), the genitive in English has many of the functions of the Greek genitive. For example, 'cup of water1 (genitive of content), 'dress of cotton' (genitive of material), 'pearl of great price" (genitive of value), city of Rome (= a city, namely Rome; appositive genitive).


1Cf. arm's length, month's wages.



2Really a genitive of agent.



3The genitive in Greek, taken in its root sense, is the limiting or specifying case. Possession is merely a subspecies of specification: 'his thongs,' i.e. thongs, namely his.


2. Syntax of the Cases

108. Inflection concerns the modification of words in form in accordance with their grammatical function in the sentence (§100). Syntax (σύνταξις, arranging or ordering together) treats the grouping of words into phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, books, and thus has to do with the funation of words and word groups in relation to each other and to the whole. Inflection and syntax together are grammar.

Grammar traditionally also includes other elements such as phonology (spelling, phonetics, punctuation, etc.) and word-formation.

109. A traditional syntax of the cases attempts to systematize the various relationships between words and word groups signaled by case-forms (cf. the sketch in §107). Syntactical categories thus developed are seldom clearcut and never exhaustive. They can, however, serve as a guide to the interpretation of case-function. The specific functions of the cases are best learned in the context of actual word clusters and sentences.

Some preliminary acquaintance with the grammatical functions of the cases will assist in fixing in mind the declension (inflectional) patterns of the nominal system. The following brief schematic sketch of the Greek cases will serve as a preview.

A detailed summary will be found in §§885ff.

1090. The native speaker of English will find that most functions of the Greek cases have analogies in English. Indeed, the sketch of the English cases in §107 could serve, with minor modification, as a sketch of the Greek cases. Difficulties will be encountered primarily at two points: 1) some case functions in Greek will be new, and 2) it will be necessary to learn traditional syntactical terminology in order to make use of advanced and reference grammars. The latter is a more formidable obstacle than the former.

110. The nominative ease. The nominative is the naming

case and corresponds to the English subjective case (§107). It is therefore the case of 1) the subject of the verb or sentence. In closely related ways the nominative is also used 2) as predicate with copulative verbs (ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς, the life was the light Jn 1:4); 3) in appositives (adjuncts to the subject, but also loosely to other cases) (ἦν Ἀνδρεας ὁ ἀδελφὸς Σίμωνος Πέτρου…, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was ... Jn 1:40); 4) absolutely (in titles, etc.); and 5) as vocative (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, you brood of vipers! Mt 3:7).

111. The oblique cases (§1053) may be used either alone or in conjunction with prepositions. In the sentence,

(i)      the man whom everybody knows whom is the objective case used alone; in
(ii)      the students to whom we gave the books

whom is used in conjunction with the preposition to. The variation may not indicate any shift in meaning:

(iii)      we gave the students the books and
(iv)      we gave the books to the students

are identical in meaning.

In hellenistic Greek there are two tendencies at work which affect the oblique cases: 1) there is a growing preference for the preposition over against the simple case (the latter was freely employed in classical Greek, especially in poetry), and 2) there is less precision in the use of both simple case and preposition. The ascendancy of the prepositions led eventually to the reduction of the case-forms (there is no dative in modern Greek), since the distinctive case-form loses its rationale when its function is regularly indicated by a preposition (cf. English) . The lack of precision means that the nice distinctions possible in classical Greek cannot be pressed upon hellenistic texts.1


1There were, of course, Atticizing authors in the hellenistic period who strove to imitate Attic style.


0112. The genitive is a composite case (Smyth §1279), i.e. the same case form embraces both genitive and ablative. The two are sometimes treated separately in syntax, but their functions cannot always be distinguished. It is common to use genitive, for the sake of simplicity, to refer to both genitival and ablatival functions.1

112.1 The genitive is the case of genus or kind; it specifies. It most often corresponds to the preposition of in English, but it has affinities with the English possessive (§107). The various derived uses of the genitive are not at once apparent from the root idea, but in general the genitive denotes a relationship between two words, one of which further defines or circumscribes the other. E.g. πλῆθος ἰχθύων, a large quantity of fish (Lk 5:6), i.e. a large quantity, namely fish.

112.2 The ablative case is the 'whence' case, denoting source, origin, or separation. It is often represented in English by from: cease from work.

1120. The genitive is used to denote 1) possession or belonging (English possessive or of): αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα, his works Jn 3:21; and 2) relationship or origin (English of) ὁ υἱὸς Ἰωάννου…, the son of John Jn 1:42. The genitive may be 3) subjective ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ, the love of God 1 Jn 3:17 [RSV God's love]), or 4) objective (ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ the love of God 1 Jn 2:5 [RSV love for God 1]). It may be 5) partitive: ἕτερον δὲ τῶν ἀποστόλων, another of the apostles Gal 1:19 (with preposition: ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ δύο, two of his disoiples ἐκ with partitive genitive, αὐτοῦ = possessive] Jn 1:35). The genitive is also used in 6) comparisons: μείζων τούτων greater things than these Jn 1:50 (i.e. these things are the point from which the comparison is made). The genitive may also specify 7) content or material, 8) value, 9) time or 10) place within which (note Κανᾶ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, Cana in Galilee Jn 2:1). It is used with adjectives and verbs, the meaning of which corresponds to a function of the genitive, e.g. πλήρης χάριτας καὶ ἀληθείας, full of grace and truth Jn 1:14; ἐπλήσθησαν πάντες πνεύματος ἁγίου…, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit Acts 2:4.


1Against the correct but unnecessarily complicated tradition created by A.T. Robertson (which prevails in most American grammars), this grammar proposes to simplify matters wherever possible. The genitive will be used generally for both Indo-European genitive and ablative, and the dative case will include dative, locative and instrumental (s. §0113). Only occasionally will these distinctions be made. The syntactical rubrics will thus conform to the inflectional paradigms (as in most European grammars). In Latin, contrary to Greek, 1) the genitive and ablative are distinct cases in form; 2) the dative and ablative are often identical in form (in the plural always).



1121. The oblique cases are often aided in their function by means of a preposition. Prepositions supplement (i.e. add nothing and are therefore redundant) or further specify the function of the case. The partitive genitive, for example, may be used alone or with ἐκ (s. §1120): the meaning is identical. The genitive is rarely used alone to express agent in Greek, but it is common with the prepositions ὑπό (direct agent) and διά (intermediate agent), e.g. δι’ αὐτοῦ, through him Jn 1:3.

0113. The dative case is also composite, embracing the dative, locative and instrumental cases (cf. §0112). The single syntactical rubric thus conforms to the single case-form.

113. The dative, as distinct from the locative and instrumental, is the case of personal interest. It denotes that to or for which something is or is done. The instrumental, as the designation suggests, indicates means or instrument (English by or with), but also includes association or accompaniment (English with in a different sense1). The root idea expressed by the locative (cf. Latin locus, place) is location in space or time (English in or at, also among, beside, etc.); the locative is also used figuratively.

FOOTNOTE 1RSV interprets the genitive in both 1 John 2:5 and 3:17. The genitive may be either subjective or objective. The English translation 'the love of God' is open to the same ambiguity as the Greek genitive. /footnote

1130. The dative proper indicates the person more remotely concerned (to or for someone). 1) The indirect object with a transitive verb2 is therefore put in the dative case: ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν, he gave them power Jn 1:12. The dative of indirect object is the most common use of the dative case. The dative of indirect object with verbs of speaking (λέγει αὐτοῖς, he says to them Jn 1:38) is extremely common (15 times in Jn 1: 35-51), but even so, the prepositions have begun to encroach upon this function of the dative case (πρός with the accusative often takes the place of the dative: λέγει ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ πρὸς αὐτόν, the mother of Jesus says to him Jn 2:3). Thus, in Greek as in English, the indirect object may be in the simple objective case (Greek dative) or it may be in the objective case governed by a preposition.

In addition to the dative of indirect object, the dative is also used 2) with certain verbs, which are usually transitive in English, to denote the sole complement or object (i.e. when no other object is present). For example, verbs of serving take the dative: οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ, the angels served him Mk 1:13.1 Such verbs normally express strong personal relationship. The corresponding adjectives also take the dative. 3) The person for whom something is or exists is put in the dative:ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάννης his name was John Jn 1:16. This is called the dative of possession 2 4) The person for whom something is done is also put in the dative, whether the action is to his advantage or disadvantage (dative of advantage or disadvantage) : ᾧ σὺ μεμαρτύρηκας, for whom (i.e. in whose interests) you bore witness Jn 3:26.

FOOTNOTE 1'to cut down a tree with an ax' = instrument; 'to go with him1 = accompaniment. /footnote

FOOTNOTE 2In transitive verbs the action denoted by the verb affects something other than the subject of the verb: 'Paul wrote a letter' (a letter is the object of the verb). The thing directly affected is called the direct object. Commonly, but not always, the direct object is in the accusative case in Greek (s. §114). 'Paul wrote a letter to the Romans': to the Romans is the indirect object of the verb (= dative in Greek). /footnote

FOOTNOTE 3The indirect object or complement in English is commonly indicated by to: 'he gave power to them." If to is omitted, the indirect object follows immediately upon the verb: 'he gave them power.' /footnote

1131. In biblical Greek 5) the instrumental dative is more often than not supplemented by the preposition ἐν in an instrumental sense:3 βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι, I baptize with water Jn 1:26; but Acts 1:5 Ἰωάννης μὲν ἐβάπτισεν ὕδατι, with no difference in meaning. In closely related ways, the dative may indicate 6) cause (ἵνα τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Χριστοῦ μὴ διώκωνται, in order that they may not be persecuted for [= because of] the cross of Christ Gal 6:12), or 7) the person or thing to which the assertion is limited (dative of respect): ὀνόματι Ἰάϊρος, Jairus by name Mk 5:22; οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ, the pure in heart Mt 5:8. 8) The associative (comitative) dative is employed with verbs which stress association or accompaniment 4: ἠκολούθησαν τῷ Ἰησοῦ, they followed Jesus Jn 1:37.1 9) Similarly, the associative dative may denote accompanying circumstances (with ἐν) or manner: ἐν ῥάβδῷ ἔλθῳ, Shall I come to you with a rod? 1 Cor 4:21; παντὶ τρόπῳ, εἴτε προφάσει εἴτε άληθείᾳ, in every way, whether in pretense or truth Phil 1:18.

FOOTNOTE 1One could also translate, 'ministered to him.' /footnote

FOOTNOTE 2One can also show possession by means of the genitive (§1120). When the dative is used stress is laid upon the thing possessed (Bl-D §189(1)); the genitive puts the emphasis on the possessor. /footnote

FOOTNOTE 3Under the influence of Hebrew בְּ (Bl-D §195) . Ἐν always takes the dative case. /footnote

FOOTNOTE 4Cf. the dative with verbs of strong personal relationship, §1130. /footnote

1132. The locative dative to express 10) place where is rare in the New Testament except with prepositions (ἐν, ἐπί, παρά, πρός): τῇ δεξιᾷ οὖν τοῦ θεοῦ ὑψωθείς, exalted to the right hand of God Acts 2:33. 11) To express time when it is more common (often also with ἐν): τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ, on the third day Jn 2:1.2

0114. The accusative is the normal oblique case. It is the oldest case and has once again become the usual oblique case in modern Greek. Since its function in Greek parallels the objective case in English for the most part, the accusative offers little difficulty. The speaker of English will have to give attention rather to the use of the genitive or dative where he might expect the accusative.

114. The root idea expressed by the accusative may be broadly characterized as extension, but the specific relationship (as with the genitive) is often indeterminate and must be supplied from the context. The accusative is the case 1) of the direct object (i.e. it defines the extent to which the action of the verb is effective: ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω, the world did not know him Jn 1:10. Accusative objects are of two kinds:

FOOTNOTE 1Ἀκολουθέω is also used with μετά and ὀπίσω with the genitive (another example of simple case usage being supplemented or supplanted by a preposition and the same or different case). /footnote

FOOTNOTE 2The dative is also used in hellenistic Greek to express duration of time contrary to classical usage, which employed the accusative for this purpose (Bl-D §201). /footnote

a) internal object (object effected; object is implied by the verb), and b) external object (object affected; object not implied by the verb, but necessary to define the extent of the action). Thus, the accusative may specify 2) the internal object, either a) as a cognate1 (ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy Mt 2:10), or b) as an object of kindred meaning (εἶδον ὅραμα, I saw a vision Acts 11:5) A verb may also take 3) two objects (double accusative}, a) both of which may be external objects (αἴτησόν με ὃ ἐὰν θέλης, Ask me whatever you wish Mk 6:22), or b) one of which may be external, the other internal (ἡ ἀγάπην ἣν ἠγάπησάς με, the love with which you loved me Jn 17:26), or c) one of which may be the external object, the other a predicate accusative (εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ, make his paths [to be] straight Mk 1:3). 4) The terminal accusative, denoting goal, is used only with prepositions (εἰς, ἐπί, παρά, πρός).

1140. Extension, the basic idea of the accusative, is also expressed by 5) the accusative of respect (specification or general reference): τὸν ἀριθμὸν ὡς πεντακισχίλιοι, in number about 5,000 Jn 6:10 (i.e. so far as number is concerned), 6) the accusative of the extent of space: ἐληλακότες οὖν ὡς σταδίους εἴκοσι πέντε ἢ τριάκοντα, when they had rowed about 25 or 30 stadia Jn 6:19, and 7) the accusative of the extent of time: ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας, he was in the wilderness for 40 days Mk 1:13. 8) The accusative of respect may also be used adverbially: καὶ προβὰς ὀλίγον, and going on a little farther Mk 1:19. 9) The accusative subject of the infinitive, strictly speaking, is an accusative of respect (general reference) : πρὸ τοῦ Φίλιππον φωνῆσαι, Before Philip called you Jn 1:48 (lit., before the to call you with respect to Philip).

FOOTNOTE 1The object is etymologically related to the verb. /footnote

FOOTNOTE 2The second accusative in this case is an adjective rather than a noun, but the construction is the same. Cf. εἰ ἐκείνους εἶπεν θεούς‚, if he designated them gods Jn 10:35. /footnote

FOOTNOTE 3Cf. the dative of respect, §1131. /footnote

115. The attempt to come to terms with the inflectional patterns of the nominal system (declension) will be more successful if the rationale of inflection in general has been grasped. The three factors involved in declension, gender, number and especially case, have been brought into relation to English in an effort to make the rationale apparent. The complexities of Greek syntax do not need to be mastered at this point, only appreciated. Syntax can better be learned in conjunction with actual texts. Coping with actual texts, however, depends upon "discerning the signs, and for that the structure of the nominal system is a first and readily taken step.