Re: Word order in James 1:3

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Apr 05 1998 - 08:00:59 EDT

At 4:08 PM -0500 4/5/98, Paul Zellmer wrote:
>>Paul Zellmer wrote:
>>>In James 1:3, I have a word order question on which I hope some of you
>>>will comment. The phrase TO DOKIMION hUMWN THS PISTEWS seems to tie
>>>the possessive pronoun with the testing. Yet each of the English
>>>translations I've consulted causes it to modify the faith. If this
>>>were the case, would it not fall between the definite article and the
>>>noun PISTEWS? What am I missing here?
>Carl responded:
>>I'm at home and the more important grammatical helps are at the
>office, but
>>one thought that occurs to me is this: the first- and second-person
>>singular pronouns have both enclitic forms (MOU, SOU) that follow upon
>>noun with which they construe and accented forms (EMO=U, SO=U) that are
>>emphatic and that normally PRECEDE the noun with which they construe. I
>>think it may be that this differentiation of placement before or after
>>noun indicates the same differentiation between emphasis and
>>in those other personal pronouns that don't have the enclitic forms.
>>is just guesswork, but I'll consult a grammar as soon as I get the
>>and see what else I can find out.
>Although you're not Mr. Spock, many times we trust your "guesswork"
>more than others' "facts."
>I do have a couple questions about this response, though. If this is
>emphasis, what is being emphasized, the pronoun or its head? If it's
>the pronoun, is distinction being made between "your" faith and someone
>else's? [How's that for Southern grammar!] If not, then what is the
>significance of the emphatic form here and again in 1 Pet 1:7? If it's
>the head, then is the effect of the pronoun being de-emphasized a bit?
>Right now I have more questions about this than answers. I will
>research this in the light of the hypothesis you made based on the
>singular pronouns, searching for cases where those are used similar to

I still haven't been to my office to look at grammars on this; I did check
the Perseus web site, which now has an on-line version of the
(copyright-expired) first edition of Smyth's grammar, and I don't feel it
offers clear guidance on this question. I have also done a preliminary
Accordance search for genitive plural personal pronouns governing noun
phrases in terms of whether the pronoun precedes or follows the noun
phrase. I've found some interesting cases that seem to support my theory,
but I'm not satisfied yet and I want to refine my search and do a more
careful analysis of my results before drawing any conclusions on this

>My second question is, how do you know for sure that the pronoun is
>going with faith and not with testing? Would "your testing of the
>faith" require the use of the attributive position? Or is this a

I DON'T know for sure that the pronoun is going with 'faith' and not with
'testing,'--but I think that if it goes with 'testing,' it is more likely
an OBJECTIVE than a possessive genitive, i.e., it would be 'testing of
you,' i.e. of faith. And no, I don't think it would need to be in an
attributive position.

>I look forward to the results of your grammar search.

Well, if I get it concluded to the point that it shows anything conclusive,
I'll let you know, but in searching the archives for another matter
yesterday I recalled that Clay Bartholomew initiated a discussion of this
matter once before, and I want to refer back to that discussion. It may
just simply be that the possessive more commonly follows its noun but may
precede it. Perhaps I should say that I'll let you know even if I DON'T
discover anything conclusive. As I say to students about research topics
sometimes, finding out that a theory is NOT valid (especially if it's your
own theory) may be just as valuable as proving a theory. I'd far rather
depend upon a theory with evidence supporting it than on any kind of
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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