Do prepositions govern or merely clarify case functions in Koine Greek?

From: Jay Adkins (
Date: Thu Sep 09 1999 - 08:43:37 EDT

Dear B-Greekers,

Can someone please clarify for me the issue of rather or not prepositions
govern or merely clarify case functions in Koine Greek? Dana & Mantey,
plus Porter seem to support the idea "that a preposition is governed by its
case, in some way helping the case to manifest its meaning and to perform
more precisely its various functions." (Porter 140) On the other hand,
Wallace, after quoting Dana & Mantey saying in part, "It is incorrect... to
say that prepositions govern cases...", This statement is generally
accurate for classical Greek, but not Koine. Some cases uses in the
classical period were quite subtle. As the language progressed in the
Koine period, such subtleties were replaced with more explicit
statements.... the prepositional phrase does not always communicate more
explicitly what a naked case could communicate; sometimes it communicates
something other than what a simple case would normally communicate. In
this respect it is legitimate to speak of prepositions as governing nouns."
(Page 360). I would like add what Wallace does not quote from Dana &
Mantey, "Neither is the opposite true, that cases govern prepositions."
(Page 97, section 101).

Wallace also says, "When a dative follows a preposition, you should not
attempt to identify the genitives function by case usage alone. Rather,
consult either BAGD for the specific usage of that case with that
preposition. Although many of the case uses overlap with the uses of the
preposition + the dative (especially with EN + the dative), the parallels
are not exact. Furthermore, where there is overlap of usage, there is
usually not overlap of frequency of occurrence (e.g., although the naked
dative as well as EN + the dative can express sphere, the frequency of such
usage is much higher with EN + the dative). (Wallace - page 175.)

In my limited brain, I am unable to see the difference of EN + the dative
or the naked dative which expresses sphere. If prepositions govern cases,
what is the effect specifically in the function of sphere? How is
"something other than what a simple case would normally communicate" seen
and just exactly what is this added information communicating? Please
help this confused Little Greek.

Sola Gratia,
Always Under Grace!

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