Re: The Purpose of Syntactical Categories

From: Danny Andre' Dixon (
Date: Tue Jan 04 2000 - 10:13:40 EST


Think in terms of the various designations helping one to be precise in
DESCRIPTION. Technically, there is, for example, just a nominative,
genitive, dative, accusative, and vocative (as far as FORM) is concerned.
But when one considers any particular passage of scripture, one can see
immediately that different things are happening in the passage--or at least
there is a possibility of any number of things happening in a passage.

The various distinctions, as I'd see it, provide a means of precisely
TALKING ABOUT the nuances of the biblical text, almost in a code language of

As far as the genitive is concerned, one could, for example look at 2
Corinthians 5:14 and see a genitive, e.g. "The love OF CHRIST constrains
us". Without a sense of distinction (that dividing up the genitive into
categories would compel), one might approach the passage with a preconceived
idea that forced the idea that our love for Christ compels us to be God's
ambassadors. I suppose that would be fine. But then someone else might come
at the verse from another angle and see it as saying that Christ's love for
us (in his sacrificial death, perhaps?) motivates or compels us. Someone
else might notice both the objective or subjective nuances, and say that
Paul had BOTH ideas in mind and chose to express globally his thought in the
genitive case.

One, the other, or both, as regards the genitive, one must admit that the
phrase is capable of various conclusions to be drawn. Putting "tags" on the
respective cases merely serves as a means of describing what is before us as
we read and gives us tools that allow us to talk about the word of God in an
intelligent way.

Danny Andre' Dixon
M.A. Bible and Related Studies,
Abilene Christian University

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