Re: Mark 6:21, GENESIOIS--plural?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Sep 05 1997 - 10:56:18 EDT

At 9:45 AM -0500 9/5/97, Rod Decker wrote:
>Mark 6:21
>(when Herod gave a banquet on his birthday...)
>I'm curious re. the plural form GENESIOIS. The dative is usually transl.
>temporally here as "on his birthday." Is this plural idiomatic such that it
>is best expressed as a singular in English? Or should this be taken as
>Herod's birthday celebrations (pl)? If so, is the banquet (DEIPNON) just
>one event in the larger celebration? (Moule, Idioms, 43, seems to imply
>this with his translation: "*at* his birthday feast" [Herod gave a
>Any idea of Roman and/or Jewish customs in this regard?

I don't know that this resolves the whole question, Rod, but Greek festival
names regularly take the form of a neuter plural proper name, so that
GENESIA would mean "celebration of one's birthday." I've sometimes wondered
whether this fact might even help explain the use of the plural SABBATA for
"Sabbath" when only one particular day was meant. But festivals in Greek do
regularly take the neuter plural, and if a deity's name is in it, then the
neuter plural of the -IOS proper adjective is employed: TA DIONUSIA, for
example. Curiously enough, sexual intercourse is viewed as a festival and

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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