Re: the signifance of TOU toward the end of Matt. 2:13

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Oct 15 1999 - 12:25:22 EDT

At 11:14 AM -0500 10/15/99, Michael Steinman wrote:
>I am currently in a Biblical Greek Class and we were translating
>Matthew 2:13. The last portion reads: MELLEI GAR hHRWDHS ZHTEIV TO
>What is the significance of the definite article TOU and why does it appear
>in the genitive form? This even has the professor a bit stumped at the
>moment. Any comments would be appreciated.

The articular infinitive, i.e. the infinitive with the neuter article,is
used in a number of different ways in Koine Greek; one of the more common
of these is in the genitive case to express purpose; originally there was
probably a preposition hENEKA ("for the sake of") used with such a genitive
articular infinitive, but one generally finds the genitive articular
infinitive in the GNT without any such preposition meaning simply "in order
to ..." What the article does is turn the infinitive (or any other word)
into a noun that can be manipulated into any grammatical case, rather like
a gerund in English or Latin. Here TOU APOLESAI is one of several
alternative ways of expressing "in order to destroy/eliminate ("with
extreme prejudice"), others being hWSTE APOLESAI, EIS TO APOLESAI, hINA
APOLESHi, and no doubt there are yet other possibilities as well.

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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