Re: Dative Direct Objects, Heb 1:6

From: Mike Adams (
Date: Fri Dec 01 1995 - 22:17:29 EST

You wrote:
>I am trying to confirm some study I have been doing on dative direct
>objects in the NT. As I understand it, when grammarians speak of a
>transitive verb "with the dative" or "with the accusative," etc., they are
>saying that the transitive verb takes an accusative or dative direct
>object. For example, note these quotations from Robertson:
>"With verbs in particular which were transitive the accusative was the
>obvious case to use unless there was some special reason to use some
>other. The other oblique cases with verbs (gen., abl., loc., instr., dat.)
>came to be used with one verb or the other rather than the accusative,
>because the idea of that verb and case coalesced in a sense." (p.
>There are many other instances where, as I understand it, proskyneO
>takes a dative direct object. To list a few that are similar to Heb 1:6
>(i.e., proskyneO with the dative autO as its direct object): Matt 2:2, 8,
>Matt 28:9, and John 9:38.
>Could someone please comment on these points to clarify if I have
>misunderstood this matter.
>Ray Mattera

Vaughan and Gideon make this comment in their Greek Grammar:
"Certain verbs take their direct object in the dative case rather than
the accusative...Verbs that express close personal relations (e.g.
hupakouw, to obey: diakonew, to serve; proskunew, to worship; akolouQew,
to follow; pisteuw, to believe, etc.) MAY" (my emphasis) "take their
objects in the dative case."

The use of a personal dative direct object is not that uncommon.
In Spanish, I can have a daughter: Tengo una hija.
and I can have a pocketbook: Tengo una bolsa.
If I misplace them, I look FOR my daughter: Busco A mi hija,
but I seek my pocketbook: Busco mi bolsa.
With most verbs the dative preposition "A" is used when a person is the
direct object, but not used before a non-personal direct object.

May I mention also that Moule in his Idiom Book of N.T. Greek says this in
a footnote: "The Dative and Accusative also overlap mysteriously"?
I like the word "mysteriously." No matter what the extent of our study and
scrutiny and knowledge of a language, some things still remain a mystery.
As to why N.T. writers chose one case over the other, we can only speculate.
Why one writer (or editor?) would use the dative direct object in one spot
and accusative form immediately after, as in Rev 13, who can know for sure?
Perhaps they sought a slightly different emphasis, i.e. "give honor to" vs.

Several hundred years from now linguists might well wonder why someone today
says, "It's me." rather than "It is I," or why that same person would say,
"That was sent in behalf of my wife and I" rather than "my wife and me."

If we, with television, radio, libraries, and required and standardized
education in English have such variation in actual usage, how much more
should we expect variations in usage during the Koinh Greek era. If anything,
I am more amazed by the overall consistency of N.T. Greek writing than
the exceptions.

For what it's worth.

Ellen Adams
Housewife and mom

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