Re: EN of the personal agent

From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Sat Oct 09 1999 - 08:23:47 EDT

To: Alex Hopkins, Jacob Cohen, and the participants of B-Greek,

SCM: << FWIW ... although occasionally a prepositional phrase with EN is
taken to express personal agency, it is very rare. Daniel B. Wallace, in
his "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics" (1996), states that the best example
for EN + dative for personal agency is 1 Cor 6:2 "the world is to be judged
BY YOU." But Wallace states that such an interpretation is "by no means
certain," and he cites Robertson-Plummer who suggest that EN hUMIN means
"in your court" or "in your urisdiction." Thus there are no unambiguous
examples which would indicate that EN with personal agency is a viable
phenomenon in the Greek NT. Nonetheless, A.T. Robertson suggests Col 1:17
(534). >>

JC: << Col 1:16 hOTI EN AUTWi EKTISQH TA PANTA ... "because everything was
created by him . . ." should we take AUTWi as a dative of agency or means.
This seems like an excellent candidate for agency unless AUTWi (refering to
Jesus) is being used without Christs personality in veiw (GGBB Wallace
pg162-3). >>

AH: << That EN of the personal agent (as opposed to its instrumental use)
was comparatively rare was something I'd not noted; but notice the ranting
TA DAIMONIA (Luke 11:15 [and see the following verses for further uses of
EN in this sense, eg v19 where EN TINI is, I think, most naturally taken of
agency rather than instrumentality], // Matthew 12:24, Mark 3:22). >>

I guess that if I had looked a little farther, I would have found these
examples for myself. These seem to be the major candidates for EN of the
personal agent, namely: (a) Mt 9:34; 12:24; Mk 3:22; Lk 11:15; (b) Col
1:16-17; and (c) 1 Cor 6:2.

Is the synoptic example really an example of agency? The charge is the
Jesus (the agent) was casting out demons with the EN phrase being either
instrumental or meaning "in the sphere of," yes? Or is it simpler to take
it as agency?

As for the Colossian example, T. K. Abbott writes: << EN AUTWi is not
simply = DI' AUTOU ... The latter designates Christ as the mediate
instrument, the former goes further, and seems to express that the
conditioning cause of the act of creation resided in Him. >> On the other
hand, the translation "by him" seems to make sense.

-Steven Craig Miller (

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