Re: MONON in James 2:24

From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Mon Sep 15 1997 - 00:43:39 EDT

Carl W. Conrad

>At 12:25 PM -0500 9/13/97, wrote:
>>A colleague is working on a paper involving James 2:24 and has a question
>>about whether the adverb MONON modifies PISTEWS, as most interpreters
>>suggest, or an implied DIKAIOUTAI from the first part of the verse. Many of
>>the Greek grammars covering the NT postulate a limited adjectival use of
>>MONON and thus allow it to modify PISTEWS. However, the other passages
>>suggested for an adjectival use of MONON all appear to be somewhat ambiguous
>>in that they could easily be understand that MONON is functioning in its
>>normal adverbial sense. Are there clear instances of MONON used adjectivally
>>in either the NT or elsewhere in Greek literature?
>There's no way that MONON can be adjectival here; if it were and modified
>PISTEWS it would have to be MONHS. I wonder, however, if that's what you
>really mean. I'd say that it is adverbial and modifies the whole
>prepositional phrase EK PISTEWS. And this is, I think, consistent with its
>position immediately following that phrase.


Before getting to the question...

I'd note in passing that some have claimed (as Bill Combs pointed out) that
MONON is adjectival in some places and point to BAGD MONOS 2.b. and
places like Matt 5:47; 10:42, which have this same position for MONON after
a noun. But I think BAGD is clear that these are still adverbial, and
I think the Greek should be understood that way as well.

Now to the question...

I agree that MONON *cannot* be adverbial here, but I'm unclear as to what
the rest of your message meant, ie., its adverbial modifying a prep phrase.
By definition, doesn't adverbial mean that it must modify a verb ? Are you
saying that the translation should be:

1) a person is justified by works, and not only [justified] by faith (of
course we can't do this in English, so we have to turn it around: A person
is not only justified by faith, but also by works.)

2) a person is justified by works, and not by faith only.

In the case of the second example, one could read "only" either as an
adverb (=1) or as an adjective ("alone"). So I'm unclear how you
would translate this ?


Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

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