Re: PRWTOTOKOS with EK in Col 1.18

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Feb 25 1997 - 06:48:45 EST

At 11:15 PM -0600 2/24/97, Juan Stam B wrote:
>Thanks, Ron, for your comment on KTISIS but my question was about the EK
>in Col 1.18. Something makes me get a sense like "firstborn out of from
>among the dead" (in atrocious English!); my feel is that the EK makes it
>emphatically partitive, perhaps by contrast to the simple genitive in
>1.15, which could also be partitive but by contrast to 1.18 could be a
>genitive of comparison (firstborn before all creation, as Louw-Nida render

I don't have many reference works handy but we do have PRWTOTOKOS TWN
NEKRWN in Rev 1:5. It's true that the ablatival genitive with EK in the
phrase EK TWN NEKRWN is often used of resurrection, and clearly PRWTOTOKOS
in this context is referring to regeneration rather than to original
creation. It is conceivable that the clear sense of reference to
resurrection is enough to explain the EK TWN NEKRWN here with dependence on
the verbal sense in -TOKOS. Still another possibility that occurs to me,
although I'm more skeptical of it, is the distinction drawn between
numerals ONE and all others: it could be a Latinism, inasmuch as Latin uses
EX + Ablative with UNUS to express the partitive notion.

I really think, however, that the different usage in these two nearby
verses reflects rather two different conceptions, partitive with THS
KTISEWS, ablative with EK TWN NEKRWN.

I agree with your earlier point that we ought not to be reading patristic
theology back into these first-century texts; while patristic discussions
may help us see the ways in which THEY understood these texts, it is
perilous to read those interpretations backwards into the supposedly
implicit theological assumptions of the original NT writers.

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

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