Re: PRWTH in Luke 2:2

From: Carlton Winbery (
Date: Wed Sep 30 1998 - 08:46:34 EDT

Carl Conrad wrote;

>I will take this occasion to comment, to my old fellow-student Jim Ware,
>that I'm still puzzled by the question he put yesterday morning about how
>substantival and adjectival use of the demonstrative must differ in
>meaning. I think he's probably right, but in the little time I've been
>checking grammars I can't find the sort of clear discussion of the subject
>that I'd like to see. That is to say, I'm still puzzled by the actual
>relationship of the elements in the phrase hAUTH APOGRAFH PRWTH EGENETO--as
>I would NOT be puzzled if it were hAUTH APOGRAFH PRWTH HN. That is to say,
>what disturbs me is that EGENETO here does not seem to me to be a copula
>like EIMI but rather an eventive verb; for that reason APOGRAFH doesn't
>seem to me to be a predicate noun, and I'm thinking (out loud,
>electronically ...) that it really OUGHT to construe as the noun to an
>adjectival hAUTH--BUT, if that were the case, the phrase really OUGHT to be
>written: hAUTH hH APOGRAFH PRWTH EGENETO, where I'd clearly understand
>PRWTH as adverbial: "This census first took place ..." This may be an
>instance of a construction that I've been looking at for so long that what
>is obvious utterly escapes me. I'm still seeking enlightenment.

I am very hesitant to instruct Carl on any thing Greek, but I seem to
remember that when this adjective (PRWTOS) is used as "first" in the sense
of the first time, it usually is neuter accusative, PRWTON, at least in the
NT. I agree with Carl that EGENETO here seems to be an event, "it
happened." Given that PRWTH then agrees with APOGRAFH, I would take it as
attributive. "This first enrollment happened . . ." The package would be
neater if we had hAUTH hH APO- as indeed a corrector of Aleph,
Alexandrinus, Ephraemi, 33 and a host of other minuscules have it. But I
think even without the article both hAUTH and PRWTH are attributive to
APOGRAFH, not the best of Greek, but certainly understandable.

Carlton L. Winbery
Fogleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
Pineville, LA 71359

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