Re: Acts 2:38

From: Carlton Winbery (
Date: Wed Mar 08 2000 - 13:07:25 EST

Roseann Ekman wrote

> Hello B-Greekers, I'm looking for input on how the word "of" is
>being >used in Acts 2:38 in regard to the Holy Spirit. Is there
>something in the >sentence that would be a cue of whether Luke is using
>the word "of" to mean >FROM the Holy Spirit or "of" meaning the Holy
>Spirit Himself? My contention >is tha the latter, (speaking of the
>indwelling of the Holy Spirit) but others >on another discussion list
>insist it means "from the Holy Spirit" - whatever >the gift might be.
>Please contact me privately if this is not the place to >answer.

We have had some lively discussion on this verse. I hope we can avoid
getting side tracked to theological issues (such as the gender of the HS; I
note Roseann's language but will not comment on that aspect).

The question is really about the use of the genitive in the last clause in
Holy Spirit" is in the genitive case modifying THN DWREAN. The
understanding being advocated by Roseann is certainly possible in Greek.
This use of the genitive is referred to by grammarians by several different
terms, genitive of identity, of content, of definition, of explanation, of
material (less inclusive), and of apposition (Brooks and Winbery, Syntax).
The key element in the context is the understanding that the word in the
genitive and the word it modifies (i.e. "gift") are identical. There is
another form of apposition in Greek where both substantives are in the same
case and one modifies the other. Identiy is the key there also. That can
happen in any case. The phenom in A.2:38 is a special use of the genitive
case. If the option taken is that the the gift is "from" the HS, then that
is ablative or genitive of source. Another good example of the gen. of
apposition is Rom. 4:11 SHMEION ELABEN PERITOMHS "He received the sign of
circumcision." PERITOMHS indicates an entity that is equal to SHMEION.

Having said all that, I would say that I agree with Roseann's reading of
this as genitive of apposition.

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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