From: Wes Williams (
Date: Mon Nov 09 1998 - 15:04:10 EST

On 11/09/98, "Jonathan Robie <>" wrote:

> Others have argued that PRWTOTOKOS forces the conclusion that Jesus is part
> of creation. I think that PRWTOTOKOS is used to stress the preeminence of
> Jesus over all of creation and that he existed before TA PANTA, and this is
> the whole theme of the passage. I don't see any reason to believe that the
> author wanted to clearly state whether Jesus is part of creation. I think
> we are asking the passage to answer a different question than the one this
> passage is all about.
> Jonathan

Dear All,

Of course, what we think is important but I would like to redirect
attention back to lexical semantics. All posters appears to agree that
Christ is pre-eminent and that he existed before TA PANTA (theol. off-list
note: the divinity of Christ is not at issue with either interpretation).
What the lexical issue is that I earlier raised was that PRWTOTOKOS is
inherently a partitive word, and, as support, I cited 72 instances of
PRWTOTOKOS + genitive from the LXX. The ablatival use is not an exception
but rather complements this, as Henry Fowler's definition of "Partitive"
shows (note the word 'separating' in his definition I include below).

In an effort to redirect back to lexical semantics, what authority/
justification from lexical semantics (not theology) and the use of
PRWTOTOKOS in the LXX exists to assert that the PRWTOTOKOS is not a member
of the group to which it is related?

I seek criticism of specific LXX examples (preferably non-metaphorical use)
to show that the pre-eminent PRWTOTOKOS is not a member of the group in
which he is pre-eminent. Wallace's citations support the partitive study
since in all his cited examples the PRWTOTOKOS is a member of the group.

Wes Williams


Certain words in language constructs carry an intrinsic partitive force.
Whenever you see such a word, the normal use of it is partitive. Examples
are: "each," "one," "half," "part," "first," etc. To assert that such a
is not partitive when used in a genitive construction is to make an
unnatural assertion and must be backed by plenty of justification.

_A Dictionary of Modern English Usage_, by H.W. Fowler, 1994, p. 613,

partitive (Gram.) ...
P[artitive] words are such nouns & pronouns as by their nature imply the
separating or distinguishing of a part of some whole from the rest, such
part, portion, half, much, superlatives, some, any, each ; the p[artitive]
genitive is that of the word denoting the whole, which is made to depend
a p[artitive] word by being put in the genitive in fully inflected
languages, but in English attached to it by of.

The word "firstborn" (PRWTOTOKOS) is intrinsically such a partitive word.

[For the rest of the post, please refer to the thread PRWTOTOKOS, Partitive
Words and listing of LXX Use (64 verses)].

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