Re: Subjective and Objective Genitives

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Oct 30 1999 - 21:17:16 EDT

At 8:02 PM -0600 10/30/99, Carlton Winbery wrote:
>Carl Conrad responded to Kevin Smith:
>>>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 glory."
>I agree with Carl's emphasis on not always making a too sharp distinction
>in these syntactical categories that English speakers use in an attempt to
>understand the specificity of the Greek. But in this case I think the
>context would make the position of Fee more likely. The context clearly
>contains an eschatological emphasis. The grace of God has been revealed
>(EPEFANH) to all men vs. 11 and this leads to the expectation of "the
>blessed hope and the revelation of the glory of the (our) great God and our
>Savior, Jesus Christ." I think that in this instance the writer is thinking
>in terms of the "glory" being manifested which makes the action of the noun
>EPEFANEIAN, as the verb EPEFANH, transitive.

Except that the form EPEFANH is really either passive or (I would prefer to
say intransitive--derived from a present middle EPIFAINOMAI) whereas the
transitive aorist would have to be, I think, EPEFHNE(N).

>Could this also be translated "the revelation of our Savior Jesus Christ,
>the glory of the (our) great God?" The word order seems especially strange
>if that is what the writer was thinking.

While I'm not altogether serious with this suggestion, it MIGHT also be
possible to understand THS DOXHS here as equivalent of an adjective, and to
"glorious revelation of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ." I
think there are some instances enough of THS DOXHS used as substitute for
an adjective--although they may be without the article.

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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