Re: Genitive Absolute

From: Mary L B Pendergraft (
Date: Fri Apr 16 1999 - 14:51:06 EDT

At 02:24 PM 4/16/99 -0400, Jim West wrote, in response to this request,
>>I am preparing to teach 1 Peter 4-5 in Sunday School. I could you use
help in understanding the following: 1. What is the genative absolute and
how does it work?

>First, and not to be nit picky, its genitive... not genative.
>The genitive absolute is a noun and a participle- both in the genitive case,
>which are not connected grammatically to the rest of the phrase (sort of
>like an independent or subordinate clause in a sentence). If you look at
>Mt 9:33, 25:5, and Mark 9:28 you can see an example of this form. The
>function is to make definite what might be obscure-- it is in essence a
>strengthening of the concept contained in the phrase- and emphasizing, if
>you will.

>>2. What is the significance of the genative absolute in 1 Peter 4:1? The
portion of the text I am dealing with is "CRISTOU OUN PAQONTOS SARKI".

>I dont think this is a very unusual expression. I take it to mean "so
>Christ suffered in the flesh...." ......

I'd like to add my comment that Jim's right; the genitive absolute is not
unusual in Greek prose, and it usually is well translated by a subordinate
clause in English. I ask my students to learn this list for strategies for
translating them--and most participial constructions, in fact:

a temporal subordinate clause, introduced by "when"
   causal "because"
  concessive "although"
  conditional "if"

The first two are the most frequent and always offer a good starting place.
 For 1 Peter 4.1, I like the causal option: "Because, then, Christ
suffered in the flesh, ..."


Mary Pendergraft
Associate Professor of Classical Languages
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem NC 27109-7343
336-758-5331 (NOTE: this is a new number)

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