Re: Neuter article in Rom 9:5

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Mar 15 1998 - 17:45:00 EST

At 2:19 PM -0600 3/15/98, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>At 09:38 AM 3/15/98 -0600, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>>The strangest such expression I think I've ever run into is a recurrent
>>formula in Aristotle, who creates a substantive by sticking a TO in front
>>of the indirect question TI HN EINAI, "to be what it was"--so TO TI HN
>>EINAI becomes a noun that Aristotle manipulates as the subject or object of
>>a verb or the object of a preposition.
>I'm sorry, Carl, but I didn't get this one right off. I'm just not sure how
>to interpret TO TI HN EINAI - that which is what it was? In what contexts
>does he use this?

This is an articular infinitive: TO ... EINAI with an indirect question (TI
HN = hO TI HN) functioning as the predicate 'word' for EINAI--I have to add
that I wish there were more universal observance of the convention that
when hO TI is the neuter sg. of hOSTIS it should be spelled as two distinct
words to distinguish it from the conjunction hOTI. The phrase means, "being
what it was/is" or "the fact that it was what it was, i.e. the fact that it
had the distinct OUSIA found in it at the particular moment in question.
Aristotle had problems distinguishing between the different meanings of
OUSIA, as a brief look at his metaphysical dictionary (Met 4?) will show:
"substance" in the sense of the unique combination of form and matter of
any particular concrete thing, and "substance" in the sense of "essence" or
the distinct form present in in matter in a concrete particular context
such that this particular matter is discernible as "what it is." As a
non-Aristotelian, that's probably the best I can do with this. Perhaps
others might try to explain it more clearly. At any rate, that's how I
understand the grammar of the phrase: an articular infinitive with an
indirect question serving as the predicate of EINAI.

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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