Re: Gal 4:28 EPAGGELIAS what type

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Thu May 27 1999 - 16:51:00 EDT

At 03:44 PM 5/27/99 -0400, Jim West wrote:
>At 03:29 PM 5/27/99 +0000, Joseph Tucker wrote:
>>I am working through Gal 4:28 and I am wrestling with the phrase EPAGGELIAS
>>TEKNA. What is the best way to take this genitive (description, source,
>>etc.) What is the syntaxical significance of its placement in the rabbinic
>>interpretation of Paul. Does the fact that Paul was engaging in rabbinic
>>interpretation of Gen 21 impact the grammatical role the genitive plays in
>>this sentence?
>What a truly EXCELLENT question! I take it as a simple genitive of source-
>something like "y'all, brothers, are children of the promise of (made to)
This *is* an excellent question, and I think Jim's interpretation is a
reasonable one. However, I would like to point out one aspect of the
original question that makes me just a little nervous. To me, the way
Joseph asked what "grammatical role" the genitive plays implies that he
wants to know the grammatical role *first* so that he can decide how to
interpret it. In reality, it is the other way around. The grammar does not
force any particular interpretation of the genitive in this verse. Context
and other clues to meaning may suggest one or another interpretation. Once
you make up your mind what the meaning of the genitive seems to be, you
know what label to give it to suit your interpretation.

AT Robertson suggests, in his Massive Yellow Tome, that the basic meaning
of the genitive is appurtenative; it says that one thing belongs, in some
sense, to the other. When you see that genitive, your job is to figure out
in what sense it belongs to the other. Jim's answer is reasonable. So is
the genitive of description: you are not children characterized by the law,
you are children characterized by the light, c.f. 1 Thess 5:5. In fact, in
the Galatians 4:28 passage, I think it has both forces, since an analogy is
drawn between physical origin (genitive of source) and being characterized
by the promise versus enslavement to the law (genitive of description), and
you need to grasp both parts to see the analogy.


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