Re: Hebrews 11:1

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed May 05 1999 - 13:34:46 EDT

I regret that I've evidently not made myself clear, but I'll try again.

At 12:29 PM -0500 5/5/99, Moon-Ryul Jung wrote:
>On 05/05/99, ""Carl W. Conrad" <>" wrote:
>> I don't think the absence of an article makes a "substantive" difference
>> here, but it does leave open the possibility that the participles
>> ELPIZOMENWN and OU BLEPOMENWN should be understood as predicative rather
>> than attributive. I don't really think this has a signficant bearing on the
>> fundamental sense of the proposition, but observe how seeing the
>> participles as predicative slightly alters how the whole is perceived (or
>> how I, at any rate, perceive it)--my paraphrase: "Faith is the basis of
>> happenings while we are anticipating them, the touchstone of happenings
>> when we do not see them."
>It seems that three grammatical approaches are suggested for interpreting
>the participles in Heb 11.1.
>1) predicates (Carl)

I would prefer the term "predicative." And I did not say above that I
definitely considered these participles to be "predicative," but only that,
in the absence of articles (TWN ELPIZOMENWN, TWN OU BLEPOMENWN) the
possibility to read them as predicative lies open.

>2) attributive (Jim): "Faith is substantive hopefulness and conviction
>without aid of sight".

I take it this is a paraphrase of the intent rather than an attempt at
literal translation; I must say that to me personally, it comes close to
explaining OBSCURUM PER OBSCURIUS. I have no idea what "substantive
hopefulness" might be. And yet, I WOULD agree with Jim that the most
natural way to understand the participles is in an attributive function.
I'd convey that as "assurance of things hoped for and canon of things not
seen." "Hoped for" and "not seen" could, under the normal understanding of
attributive participles, be conveyed as relative clauses: "assurance of
things that are hoped for, canon of things that aren't seen."

>3) the genitives of substantives (Kevin):
> "Now faith is of
>>things hoped for a confident assurance, a conviction of things not seen".

I honestly thought (and still do) that Kevin meant this version to convey
the function of the participles as attributive with the genitive plural

>To some people including me, the options 1) and 2) might be quite
>If 2) is right, why are the participles in the genitive case? I would
>them in the nominative case.
>If they were used as predicates, I would guess,
>they are supposed to describe something
>about PRAGMATWN (genitive), because the participles are also
>in the genitive case, not about "us".

The participles are in the genitive case for the same reason whether they
are understood as "attributive" OR "predicative"--because they
qualify/modify PRAGMATWN, which is genitive plural; PRAGMATWN in turn
depends upon hUPOSTASIS and (I believe) equally upon ELEGCOS.

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

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