Re: concatenation of genitives

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Fri Feb 27 1998 - 05:05:19 EST

James P. Ware wrote:
> As we know, the occurence of multiple
> genitives in noun phrases is common everywhere in ancient Greek,
> especially in the hellenistic period and in the NT, whether pairs (e.g.
> Philippians 1:25) or even longer chains (e.g. 2 Corinthians 4:6).
> The natural question is: when multiple genitives occur in a noun phrase,
> how do they relate to the governing noun(s) and to one another? I am not
> aware of anything in the standard grammars on this point . . .


Since the scholars are not answering this, one of the amateurs will take a
crack at it.

One reason you may be having trouble finding this in the standard grammars is
that the discussion of this topic will not appear under "Genitive" but under
some other subject. The best place to start looking is under the syntax of
adjectives. Genitive modifiers of nouns behave like adjectives and sometimes
are adjectives. E.V.N. Goetchius (Language of NT #75 p.38f) does discuss
genitive word order in his chapter on the genitive case.

About the two examples you cited (Philippians 1:25, 2 Corinthians 4:6). THS
PRWTHS hHMERAS is a straight forward example of an adjective in the first
attributive position. The fact that it is in the genitive is of no particular
consequence relative to word order.

THS GNWSEWS THS DOXHS TOU QEOU is a little more interesting. One could ask,
is this a knowledge of God or a knowledge of the glory that belongs to God. I
think that the word order indicates that the latter is the correct reading. If
THS GNWSEWS and THS DOXHS and TOU QEOU each performs the function of an
attributive adjective, then THS GNWSEWS modifies FOTISMON, and THS DOXHS
modifies THS GNWSEWS, and TOU QEOU modifies THS DOXHS.

This is quite similar to the Biblical Hebrew construct chain, is it not?

In summary, look into the syntax of adjectives. That is where you will find
your answer.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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