From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Nov 08 1998 - 07:47:16 EST

At 5:52 AM -0600 11/8/98, Juan Stam wrote:
>Why do we have a simple genitive in this phrase in Col 1.15 but a
>preposition added in 1.18: PRWTOTOKOS EK TWN NEKRWN? In verses of such close
>parallelism, the variation would seem to be intentional and imply (it seems
>to me) that Christ is "firstborn" of all creation in a different way that he
>is "firstborn of the dead". I'd appreciate clarification on the EK in 1.18
>and it's absence in 1.15. Many thanks.

I wouldn't want to be dogmatic about this, especially as I haven't the
grammars ready at hand to consult, but EK with an ablatival genitive is, I
am pretty sure, a common equivalent of a pure partitive genitive. This may
be derivative from Latin usage--as not a few Hellenistic Greek usages seem
to be--Latin regularly uses EX + abl. with UNUS, e.g. UNUS EX HOSTIBUS. In
this case, even if the genitive with EK in 1:18 is originally ablatival,
the sense of EK TWN NEKRWN here probably ought to be understood as
partitive, and it seems to me most natural to take it that way in sense:
PRWTOTOKOS here is, I believe, comparable to APARCAI, the "first fruits,"
which is similarly used: Jesus is the first of the dead to be raised--but
there will be many, many more.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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