Re: Romans 1:20 apo ktisews kosmou tois poihmasin *nooumena**kaqoratai*

From: H. Fred Nofer (
Date: Sun Mar 02 1997 - 03:18:19 EST

On Sat, 1 Mar 1997 20:37:09 -0800 (PST) Micheal Palmer
<> writes:
>At 6:18 PM -0500 3/1/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>>"Neuter plurals often have singular verbs." Thanks! That's what I
>>didn't know. After reading what you said, I looked it up in Smyth,
>>who says this:
>>Subject in the Plural, Verb in the Singular
>>958. A neuter plural subject is regarded as a collective (996), and
>has its
>>verb in the singular: KALA HN TA SFAGIA "the sacrifices were
>While this is OFTEN true in the New Testament, it is not nearly always
>This is one of the handicaps of using Smyth (which is an excellent
>grammar). Smyth's focus is on an earlier period, and this is one of
>things which was in change at the time of the New Testament. Smyth's
>description probably does cover the majority of instances in the New
>Testament, though.
>Micheal W. Palmer
>Religion & Philosophy
>Meredith College
As Michael states above, it would certainly seem that Smyth overstates
the case. The above quoted rule does not cover 100% of the instances.
However, as Michael states, generally in the GNT, neuter plurals take
singular verbs. Dana and Mantey, state: "...the verb agrees with its
subject in person and number. i. A seeming exception to the above
principle of syntax is the fact that a neuter plural subject regularly
takes a singular verb (Jn. 9:3). This is doubtless because a neuter
plural usually refers to inanimate objects, which are viewed in mass
rather than as distinct individuals." And then they do go on to give
examples including "exceptions" where the neuter plural refers to persons
(Matt. 12:21) or the neuter emphasizes the plurality of things (Luke
24:11). (pp. 164-5)

And then you wrote: response to my statement:
> NOOUMENA is a pres. part. neut. plural, as you surmised, and as a
> participle, would not have a subject;

>But I'm still confused - since this is my native state, it no longer
>bothers me, but I'll keep asking questions anyways-first off, Smyth's
>Greek Grammar talks about participles agreeing with a subject, at
>least if they are circumstantial participles, e.g.:

>2056. The subject of the participle is identical with the noun or
>pronoun subject or object of the leading verb, and agrees with it
>in gender, number, and case.

If NOOUMENA is circumstantial, I can understand the use of "subject" in
connection with it, though I still would not feel comfortable using the
term if I understand ATR's participial designations of adjectival and
adverbial correctly, but I would suggest you might want to consider
NOOUMENA as being the instrumental use of the adverbial participle.

This would view the participial clause (TOIS POINMASIN NOOUMENA) as in
agreement with the subject (TA AORATA) of the leading verb (KAQORATAI)
and modifying the latter in an instrumental capacity, i.e. "His invisible
things...are being seen by means of understanding the things that are
made," with the dative being translated as a direct object in English
(see H. P. V. Nunn, A Syntax of New Testament Greek, p. 48).

Now, I am way past my bed time, so the "glue" that should be holding the
above together may be oozing between the cracks, so please keep that in

Grace and Peace,

* H. Fred Nofer, Th.D. "XARITI QEOU" *
* Pastor, Faith Bible Church
* P. O. Box 33425
* Reno, NV 89533 e-mail: *

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