Re: Subjective and Objective Genitives

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Oct 30 1999 - 17:58:52 EDT

<x-rich>At 7:50 PM +0200 10/30/99, Kevin Smith wrote:

<excerpt>Dear friends




I'm having some trouble distinguishing between subjective and objective
genitives. I learned most of my grammar from Wallace (GGBB, 1996). He
recommends that when one suspects one of these categories, the key to
identification is to turn the head noun into a verb and turn the
genitive into its subject or object. Furthermore, when describing the
objective genitive Wallace explains that "an objective genitive can
only occur with verbal nouns which imply a transitive verb" (p. 117).


Yet Gordon Fee, in his commentary on the Pastorals, regards the above
example as an objective genitive, explaining that it gives "the 'what'
of the manifestation."


However, EPIFANEIAN THS DOXHS seems to convert naturally into "the
glory appears," hence a subjective genitive. The verbal idea in
EPIFANEIAN seems to be intransitive, which would mean the construction
could not be an objective genitive.


Since I have great respect for Fee, I suspect I'm missing something
here. Could someone please tell me what it is, that is, why EPIFANEIAN
THS DOXHS is objective and not subjective?


The question is whether you are understanding the force of EPIFANEIA as
transitive or intransitive; when you say "the glory appears" or
"appearing of the glory" then you're looking at it as intransitive. If,
on the other hand, you're looking at EPIFANEIA as meaning
"demonstrating the glory," then it's a transitive usage and you're
considering THS DOXHS as an "objective" genitive. It should be
remembered, however, as we've said more than once in recent weeks, that
"subjective" and "objective" genitive have more to do with our need as
English-speakers than it does with a sharp distinction or even a real
distinction in the Greek grammar: the Greek speaker might just as soon
have understood this phrase as "glory's appearance" as "demonstrating

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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