Re: GINOMAI in John 15:8 and James 1:22

From: Carlton Winbery (
Date: Mon Feb 15 1999 - 08:20:22 EST

Mark Taylor wrote;

>In John 15:8, GENHSQE is translated by the New American Standard as "prove
>to be" My disciples. I was surprised to see this, since the basic meaining
>of GINOMAI is "become" or "happen" or change of condition.
>Is there justification for using the word "prove" or is perhaps a different
>English meaning intended for "prove"?
>I also noticed that while Nestle's has GENHSQE (aorist subjunctive), the
>Textus Receptus has GENHSESQE (future), but that doesn't really seem to
>make much difference here.
>Also in James 1:22, GINESQE is translated by the NASB as "prove
>yourselves", when a lterial translation would be "keep on becoming".
>In both of these verses, the different meanings have significant
First the textual problem. The aorist subjunctive is found in P66
apparently, vaticanus (favorite of those of the WH tradition) D L Q and
several other non-byzantine minuscules. The future form is supported by
Aleph, Alexandrinus family 13 min 33 and the majority witnesses. The
subjunctive used with hINA is a purpose statement while the future ind. is
a simple prediction. Given that the two subjunctives seem to be compound
subjunctives with hINA the subjunctive is more natural. Some would argue
that that led some of the Alexandrian scribes with D and others to change
to the subjunctive, but that seems unlikely to me.

The use of GINOMAI in the sense of "to show oneself" or "to prove oneself
to be" is given by Thayer following the old Grimm-Wilke unabridged. They
give possible examples as Lk 10:36; 19:17; 24:19; Rom 11:34; and several
others. If this the intended meaning then the writer is stating "that you
bear much fruit and thus prove yourselves to be my disciples."

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

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