Greek Indirect Objects

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Thu Aug 20 1998 - 22:41:44 EDT

I have been playing with the notion "indirect object" lately and have begun
to wonder if it is really even necessary when discussing Greek. While the
concept seems to be intuitively clear, it is very difficult to define
precisely and the major grammars do not even all use the term (See BDF for
example). While simple definitions are sometimes given, they typically lead
to many exceptions.

The 'indirect object' (if that term is really relevant) is virtually always
assigned Dative Case.

                The people gave praise to God

Here, as in virtually every instance of such objects, TWi QEWi functions as
the GOAL or RECIPIENT of the praise.

[Brooks and Winbery (_Syntax_, pp. 30-32) add the Dative of Advantage and
Dative of Disadvantage to the category Indirect Object, but this seems to
me to blur the definition considerably. I would treat these more like
Robertson who says "The so-called dative of advantage or disadvantage does
not differ very greatly from the indirect object" (big grammar, p.
538)--but note that he assumes it *does* differ some.]

I would like to ask a few questions about this state of affairs.

First, do any of you know of examples where the supposed indirect object
bears a semantic role other than GOAL or RECIPIENT (besides Brooks and
Winbery's treatment of the Dative of Advantage and Disadvantage)?

Second, do you know of any indirect objects which do bear the role GOAL or
RECIPIENT, but are assigned a case other than dative? Of course there are
verbs which use a double accusative (like DIDASKW: Mark 4:2, for example)
where one of the accusative case items seems to parallel the function of an
indirect object, but are there others, but I'm not convinced it had that
function in Greek.

If all indirect objects bear either the role GOAL or RECIPIENT and are
assigned dative case, a grammar could just eliminate the notion of indirect
object altogether and say that any object which expresses the role GOAL or
RECIPIENT is assigned dative case. (Of course there are many other
functions of the dative case as well.)

Please feel free (even invited, encouraged, etc.) to demolish this
analysis. Please, though, do so with relevant *examples*.

Micheal W. Palmer
North Carolina State University
Philosophy and Religion (New Testament)
Foreign Languages (Ancient Greek)

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