RE: Ephesians ~ Generic Dative?

From: George Blaisdell (
Date: Tue Apr 27 1999 - 11:21:30 EDT

>From: "Carl W. Conrad"

>I respond to this only as an unregenerate orthodox believer in
>Greek grammar; while I am dubious occasionally about some particular
>interpretation of traditional grammatical categories, I am not yet
>ready to abandon them in favor of attacking a text armed with nothing
>than intuition and imagination.

Dear Carl ~

I am not asking anyone to abandon anything, and especially not for the
sake of 'attacking' a text... Irreligious of armament!! :-)

There is nothing wrong at all, imho, in understanding this passage in
English as "By Grace you are saved through faith." It clearly says
that. The compound verb [periphrastic] of EINAI plus the perfect
really should be taken as you say.

Yet we would translate it the same if it were not periphrastic, but
simply 2nd indicative.

My only lens here is the question: "Why periphrastic?" Hence the
focus on the centered ESTE, which *can* stand alone, yet here is
obviously not standing alone, and the conclusion that "you are
existing" is a strong part of the meaning of this passage.

>Granted, ESTE is here centered between CARITI and SESWiSMENOI; why
>should mean that ESTE is a 'stand-alone' verb is not so easy to say.

I hope that I have answered this above... The reason is simply that
the periphrastic form emphasizes ESTE in a way that the indic 2nd pl
perf passive does not.

>Suppose we had an English sentence, "Truly you have sinned," would we
>entitled to say, by the same logic, "you have" is a 'stand-alone'
>Certainly not; "you have sinned" is a verb compounded of the
>"have" and the participle "sinned," even as ESTE SESWiSMENOI is a
>compounded (the usual term is "periphrastic") of the auxiliary ESTE
and the
>participle SESWiSMENOI.

And again, the Greek uses the periphrastic form for a reason here...
At least that is my assumption...

>>The generic dative locates what it modifies in the most general way
>>possible, if I am understanding this right.
>It appears that we have here isolated a new strain of the virus--er,
>grammatical case traditionally called 'Dative'--this one now to be
>"Generic Dative"--I only hope it isn't 'catching.'

I do not wish to be anyone's virus, Carl. And I wish you continued
good health! :-)

I simply do not have a good grammatical vocabulary. Perhaps I should
have said 'plain dative', or 'unmodified dative'. I intended it to
mean the same as in 'generic medication'. It is just a noun in the
dative case, so that we do not have an English equivalent, for our
dative is determined by a preposition. Without any preposition in the
Greek, it must either be understood by its context of usage, or
comprehensively if not so limited. And I understand the dative to be
in the widest sense locative, which includes, but is not limited to,

>As for the word-order of CARITI ESTE SESWiSMENOI, I think the most
I'd want
>to say is that CARITI is indeed emphatically placed initially, and
>CARITI, not ESTE, is the word of major importance in the clause (if
it is
>really necessary to say that one word rather than another has major

Agreed! The structuring of the thought is key, not 'importance'.

>As for the other two words, I can see absolutely no
reason why
>it should make any difference whether ESTE precedes SESWiSMENOI or
>SESWiSMENOI precedes ESTE; the meaning of the compounded perfect
passive is
>identical in either order, and if there is anything at all working
toward a
>preference of the order we actually find,

And we disagree here, simply because a very centered ESTE *is* what we
actually find...

>...and for all we may do to it in exposing
>it to the harsh
>light of microscopic analysis, it is indeed a marvelous clause:




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