Re: MONON in James 2:24

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Sep 15 1997 - 07:03:37 EDT

At 11:43 PM -0500 9/14/97, Dale M. Wheeler wrote:
>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:

Now you've got me wondering whether my head is screwed on right! My
understanding of an adverb is that it can modify a verb, an adjective, or
another adverb. I would say that in this instance MONON is functioning as
an adverb modifying the prepositional phrase EK PISTEWS, which itself
functions adverbially with DIKAIOUTAI.

>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 ?

Are we talking about whether it's an adverb in the English translation--or
in the Greek? I think either of your two options would do adequately, but
when you offer an alternative version of (2), it seems to me you're not
talking about the Greek any more but only about the English (or Luther's
Latin SOLA FIDE--where SOLA is an ablative sg. fem. adjective modifying
FIDE). But as I argued earlier, I honestly don't see how MONON can be
understood as an adjective modifying PISTEWS; I still think that if that
were the case it would have to be MONHS. How can MONON be an adjective
unless it modifies a neuter sg. (nom./acc.) or masculine sg. acc. noun?

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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