Re: Subjective and Objective Genitives

From: Carlton Winbery (
Date: Sat Oct 30 1999 - 22:02:20 EDT

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.

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. Of course, some also translate
"the revelation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ."
Before you appeal to Sharp's rule go back and read the rather lengthy
string on it in the archives.

Dr. Carlton L. Winbery
Foggleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
Ph. 1 318 448 6103 hm
Ph. 1 318 487 7241 off

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