Re: PRWTH in Luke 2:2

From: James P. Ware (
Date: Thu Oct 01 1998 - 09:08:07 EDT

On Wed, 30 Sep 1998, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> 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,

To me this verse is getting more interesting the more we discuss it. I
agree that GINOMAI has an "eventive" force that EIMI does not.
However, this does not rule out it being complemented by a predicate
adjective or noun--see, for example, Phil 2:15, 3:17, Acts 1:22, Eph 3:7,
Gal 3:13, Gal 3:24. I believe this is quite frequent.

>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 agree that, if hAUTH were an adjective modifying APOGRAFH, it ought to
be in explicit predicate position with an articular APOGRAFH. In fact, I
am taking the view that, whenever the demonstratives hOUTOS and EKEINOS
are adjectival, they are in explicit predicate position with an articular
noun, and that they cannot serve as an adjective to an anarthrous noun (at
least in the NT). In all other cases the demonstratives have a
pronominal function. I don't know of any exceptions to this, although I
may be mistaken. If this is so, then hAUTH would function as a pronoun in
Luke 2:2. Both hAUTH and APOGRAFH are nominative; APOGRAFH is anarthrous
and thus grammatically indefinite, whereas hAUTH is a pronoun and thus
grammatically definite. Therefore I would take hAUTH as the subject
nominative, and APOGRAFH are the predicate nominative, according to the
rule of thumb that in copulative constructions with one definite noun and
one indefinite, the definite noun (or pronoun) is the subject, while the
indefinite substantive is the predicate. I don't see any problem with
taking APOGRAFH as the predicate of EGENETO, since GINOMAI can take a
predicate, as discussed above. And, it seems to me, the construction
hAUTH APOGRAFH PRWTH EGENETO requires us to take it this way. Thus the
sense would be: "This was the first census taken when Quirinius was
governor of Syria." But perhaps there are possible exceptions to this
normal use of the demonstratives of which I am unaware. I too
am seeking enlightenment!

Jim Ware

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