Re: Predicate vs Attributive use of Article

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Feb 07 2000 - 11:18:13 EST

At 10:02 AM -0500 2/7/00, Mike Sangrey wrote:
>In Eph 4:22 we have:
>Does the difference between predicate and attributive apply to nouns in the
>genitive case?
>Does the above refer to
> Those particular strong desires which are deceitful.
>or can it just as likely refer to
> All the strong desires we have and they are all characterized by
> deceitfulness.
>Thanks ahead of time for answering this simple but general question.

It IS a general question but not so simple a one as it might appear; you'd
do well to consult a grammar on the syntax of the genitive near the
beginning of the whole discussion of genitive usages--Wallace seems pretty
good on this.

The fact is that the genitive CAN fall into an attribute position (e.g. TA
TWN POLEMIWN hOPLA or TA hOPLA TA TWN POLEMIWN = "the enemies' weapons")
but it seems that genitives far more frequently are not in that formal
"attributive" position (MARKED by an article preceding them and in
agreement with the noun on which they depend) but attached either before or
after the noun or noun phrase on which they depend. But one particularly
common construction in Semitizing Greek is an "attributive genitive"
wherein the noun in the genitive functions very much like an adjective;
that's what the phrase cited above from Eph 4:22 actually is, and I think
it would be best understood as "deceitful desires"--i.e. desires that cheat
you into thinking you must gratify them and as soon as possible. As I've
said, it would really repay the effort to look carefully at what almost any
NT Greek grammar has to say about the genitive even before it starts
cataloging and describing particular 'categories' of genitive usage.

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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