Re: genitives

From: James H. Vellenga (
Date: Fri Jan 24 1997 - 10:04:38 EST

Let me again suggest something entirely counterorthodox.

A private post from Randy got me thinking about the particular
concatenated genitives in Ephesians 1:3-14, and this led to
some observations.

1) The Greek genitive, like the English "of", denotes a form
 of association whose exact nature must be determined from
 context (including the past experiences of the speaker and
 listener). It can indicate possession, subject, object,
 attribute, etc. Most of us don't think of the categories
 when we speak; we're just aware of some form of association.

2) The passage in question reads best when broken down into
 lines, at least half of which end in AUTOU, AUTON, or AUTWi.
 If you read them that way, there is a constant rising to
 a climax at the substantive preceding the form of AUTOS.
 This tends to emphasize the importance of the last
 substantive in most lines, rather than of the one
 before it.

3) If this really is poetry, the author may be using an
 unusual sentential form in order to make the emphasis.
 I have written a little poetry in the past, and the
 sentence structures, no matter how hard I try to make
 it sound natural, also have a little unusualness.

So my idea is to reverse the usual reading of the Hebrew
construct form and make the former genitive an attribute
of the latter, so that we get something like

  in love predestining us for adoption through Jesus Christ
     to him,
  in accordance with the kindly-purposed desire of him, (v. 5)
  [leading] to praise of the glorious graciousness of him, (v. 6)
  of the one [who keeps] working inside all things
  in accordance with the decisive desire of him, (v. 11)
  for us to keep existing for praise of a glory of him --

Similarly, 1.19 could then be read as

  in accordance with the inner working of his strong vital-force ...

So there's one other idea.


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