Re: Word order in James 1:3

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Tue Apr 07 1998 - 01:15:30 EDT

At 4:24 PM -0800 4/4/98, Paul Zellmer wrote:
>Now that I have solved the computer problems at my end and the list has
>also been brought back up, I can apologize for failing to acknowledge
>your responses to my questions of several weeks ago. Thanks to all for
>the insights in Jude.
>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?

Yes, Paul, the genitive case form hUMWN does function syntactically as an
argument of the noun DOKIMION. In fact, but hUMWN and THS PISTEWS function
this way. They are two genitive case complements (objective genitives) of
DOKIMION in a way very similar to a double accusative construction with the
verb DOKIMAZW. The constuction assumes that 'you' (hUMWN) are tested and
(your) 'faith' (THS PISTEWS) is tested. The translations are simply
adapting to the limitations of English. "Test" in English cannot have a
double accusative construction (two direct objects). It would sound really
strange to say "the testing of you the faith." And even if it didn't sound
strange, few readers would understand it properly (to mean testing you and
testing your faith). "The testing of your faith" is a less-than-perfect,
but necessary accomodation to English usage.

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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