Re: Romans 16:7

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Mon Aug 10 1998 - 10:32:36 EDT

At 09:43 PM 8/9/98 -0600, Larry Swain wrote:
>On Sun, 9 Aug 1998, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>> Here's Robertson's comments from Word Pictures:
>> "Among the apostles (en tois apostolois). Naturally this means that they
>> counted among the apostles in the general sense true of Barnabas, James,
>> the brother of Christ, Silas, and others. But it can mean simply that they
>> were famous in the circle of the apostles in the technical sense."
>> I agree with both the substance and the tone of this - to me, the most
>> natural reading is that they were among the apostles in the same way that
>> these others were. You have to stretch it a little to read it the second
>> way.
>I'm curious Jonathan, why you would make such a remark? Is there
>something grammatically that leads you to say this that I've missed? It
>seems to me that the two constructions one would expect would be this one
>or a partitive genitive, but my impression (which I do reserve the right
>to be wrong-Carl? Edward? Mary?) is that in Koine EN + Dative is as
>common. So I'm curious.
First off, I can only grant you non-exclusive rights to be wrong, since I
intend to be wrong in my own posts as well. Perhaps we could grant rights
to the list as a whole, and not on an individual basis. The second
question, of course, is whether I was exercising those rights in my
previous post (grin!).

I said that based on my subjective reading of the passage, nothing more
than that, and it would take long, careful study to buttress my statement
or find the evidence needed to abandon it. I do note that A.T. Robertson
felt the same way, which is reassuring, since his Greek is much better than
mine ever will be.

One thing I find frustrating: in any language, a correct reading often
requires a good feel for the language, and it is hard to prove the correct
reading objectively. The fact that a construction might technically carry a
particular meaning does not mean that this is the intended meaning.
Consider the following famous examples:

        I knew a man with a wooden leg named Sam.
        Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

These two sentences have an intended meaning that is obvious to a native
speaker of English, and an intentionally perverse second meaning which a
native speaker will grasp and smile at *precisely* because it is clearly
not what the intended meaning should be. Sentences like these raise
questions best answered by asking a native speaker. I do not qualify as
such, and I've only been working with Greek for a few years (maybe 4 at
this point?). We don't have any native speakers here, but we do have some
people with lots more experience than me. Should we take a straw poll?


Jonathan Robie

Little Greek Home Page:
Little Greek 101:
B-Greek Home Page:
B-Greek Archives:

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:39:55 EDT