Re: Jerusalem, neuter plural

From: Carlton Winbery (
Date: Sat Sep 04 1999 - 16:49:54 EDT

Jim Denley wrote;
>I would like to hear from those on the list about any grammatical
>concepts or linguistic rules that apply when taking a place name (or a
>proper noun or noun) from one language to another with the results like
>we find with Jerusalem in the GNT when it is a neuter plural:
>I'm not so much interested in the etymology of IEROSOLUMA as I am a
>general set of rules. Understand it occurs in feminine singular and an
>indeclinable form as well. One lexicon seemed to suggest that it's
>taken from a spelling of Jerusalem in Hebrew with plural vowel points.
>Am more interested in if there is anything about the use of neuter
>plurals for what otherwise would be singular proper nouns or nouns when
>translated. The particular verse that brought this to mind was in John
>4:20 where the woman at the well asks Jesus "ALLA UMEIS EN IEROSOLUMOIS
>say we must worship." Or similar words. (I apologize, I don't have my
>text in front of me.) Why take a proper noun in Hebrew and make it a
>neuter plural? Perhaps it has advantages when declining it. Rules at
>play? Something unique to "Jerusalem"?
>Apologize, also, if there is a thread on this in the archives. Perhaps
>someone could check. I only have email available.
In the NT a number of place names are brought into Greek as neuter plural
nouns; hIEROSOLUMA (67), QUATEIRA (4), MURA (1), PATARA (1), hRHGION (1),
SAREPTA (1), SODOMA (9). One place name is brought in as a neuter sing.
noun; ILLURIKON. Most place names in the NT are brought into Greek as
indeclinable feminine nouns; IEROUSALHM (77) BHQZAQA (1), BHQLEEM (8),
BHQSAIDA (7), BAQFAGH (3), GEQSHMANI (2), GENNHSARET (3), etc. I know of no
hard and fast rules for how such names are brought into Greek. I read
somewhere that Jerusalem was spelled in the plural out of respect, but I
see no evidence for that.

Dr. Carlton L. Winbery
Foggleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
Ph. 1 318 448 6103 hm
Ph. 1 318 487 7241 off

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:37 EDT