Re: Queries

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat May 23 1998 - 14:56:55 EDT

At 11:57 AM -0400 5/23/98, Donald W Price wrote:
>Hi Everyone,
>I have a question with which I need a bit of help.
>Since the genitive and ablative cases share endings, how is one to
>distinguish which is being used by a N.T.
>writer? Is referring to the context the only
> For
>example, in Summer's Grammar, under the heading of the ablative, he
>gives a sentence to illustrate what the ablative is, and that sentence is
>as follows:
>hO ANQRWPOS PEMPEI TOUS DOULOS TOU OIKOU = "the man sends the servants
>from the house" (Summers
>Why is this not genitive, i.e. "he sends the servants of the house"?
>If the prepositions requiring a ablative interpretation (APO, EK, and
>PARA) are not used, as in the above example, why does Summers render
>this as ablative?

I can't see any reason in the world why it couldn't be "servants of the
household" although better Greek might presumably put a second article
before TOU OIKOU to assure that it's attributive. Without a preposition or
some fairly clear indication that the sentence NEEDS an ablatival genitive
(e.g. if the verb were EKPEMPEI or APOPEMPEI) it's pretty rare to find an
ablatival genitive in this sense--in fact, I've seen it that way primarily
in poetry, not in prose.

>An individual communicating with me maintains that "gift of the Holy
>Spirit" in Acts 2:38 is an epexegetical genitive, and makes no allowances
>for any other interpretation. Why are the following alternatives not
>(1) Subjective genitive
>(2) Possessive genitive
>(3) Ablative case ?

Hmmm, IMHO someone who "makes no allowances for any other interpretation,"
no matter how confident that he or she is right about something, is more
rather than less likely to be wrong. "Epexegetical" is a term I normally
reserve for infinitives used with adjectives, but I supposed it's
equivalent to a defining or appositional genitive. Nevertheless, this looks
like a plain garden-variety adnominal (i.e. adjectival) genitive--most
genitives DO govern other nouns, and this one certainly does. Just two or
three days back,

At 8:37 AM -0400 5/20/98, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>Silva*, in his chapter on Syntax is moving toward but has not arrived at an
>invariant meaning for the genitive case. How does he accomplish this? By
>dividing the sense of the grammatical form and the semantic function the
>genitive adopts in a given context. He focuses on the "nominal" genitive,
>i.e., the genitive case used with nouns. He states that genitive form has a
>grammatical meaning that is quite vague; it indicates that there is some sort
>of relationship between two nouns. He claims that all the rest of the meaning
>comes from the context and should not be confused with the grammatical meaning
>of the genitive.

There has been no discussion of this on the list, but I think it is
fundamentally right. I'd say that apart from partitive and ablatival
genitives, almost all instances of the genitive are indeed "nominal" or
"adnominal." Almost all of these can be translated with an "of" in English,
and although grammarians (especially Koine grammarians) are addicted to
multiplying categories, they don't really accomplish much be inventing new
names for an adnominal genitive that relates to its modified noun in a
slightly different way from any other. In sum, "epexegetical" is just
someone's preferrred name for a garden-variety genitive that qualifies a
noun by defining it more precisely--but that's pretty much what all
adnominal genitives do.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243 OR

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