Re: Matthew 24:20

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Feb 14 1996 - 09:04:52 EST

On 2/13/96, Russ Reeves wrote:

> The first phrase of Matthew 24:30 (I'm not sure if I'm
> transliterating in the standard way for this group - I'm using "H"
> OURANW," is usually rendered "the sign of the Son of Man will appear
> in the sky" (NIV) or along those lines. But is it the "sign" that
> is in heaven or the "Son of Man"? Is it grammatically possible that
> the "sign" is that the Son of Man is in heaven?

Yes, I think so.

This is an interesting question, and one that I don't think we ever
addressed in our lengthy discussion of the phrasing of this passage in the
Synoptic apocalypse last year.

My initial reaction is to think the construction of TOU hUIOU TOU ANQRWPOU
here is a defining genitive, i.e., the Son of Man is himself the sign that
will appear in the sky.

BDF #165 lists constructions of this sort as "Genitive of Quality" and
calls it a Hebraism, but it lists at #167 other genitives under the
heading, "Genitive of content and apposition" and rightly says that this is
a classical Greek usage; among examples is Rom 4:11 SHMEION PERITOMHS.
Frankly, I can't see a vast difference between these two, although some of
what's cited under #165 clearly do seem to reflect attached nouns in the
construct state.

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

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