[b-greek] Re: Genitive chain in 1 John 1:1

From: c stirling bartholomew (cc.constantine@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Fri Feb 15 2002 - 15:18:49 EST

 "Bret A. Hicks" <bret@viafamily.com>
 Genitive chain in 1 John 1:1
> I have been studying 1 John 1:1 and have a question about the phrase
> PERI TOU LOGOU THS ZWHS. In particular am I interested in the
> relationship of THS ZWHS to TOU LOGOU. It seems that it could be
> understood as epexegetical ("concerning the word which is life") or
> adjectivally ("concerning the living word") or objectivally ("concerning
> the word about life").
> It seems that all of these are possible, but is one preferable, or more
> common, based on the syntax? In particular, does it make any difference
> that both TOU LOGOU and THS ZWHS are genitive. Wallace (page 87) states
> that "normally in genitive chains (a.k.a concatenative genitives) each
> succesive genitive modifies the one that precedes it." Does this mean
> that the ajectival use is the "most normal" in a genitive chain.

Hello Bert,

I don't think Wallace is addressing your question. You are asking a question
about the semantic function of THS ZWHS where as Wallace (as quoted here) is
addressing a question about syntax structure. These are related but distinct
issues. The statement that THS ZWHS limits TOU LOGOU is not a statement
about the semantic function of THS ZWHS. Having made this observation about
the syntax of the genitive the semantic functional options are still open.

> if this is the case, since PERI takes a genitive, does this apply in
> this situation? Do "genitive chains" have a normal way to be read, or
> does context have to drive this determination? Any help would be
> appreciated.

I don't think "normal" is the best way to go here. Since there is no
"normal" mapping between the syntax and the semantics of the genitive case.
Normal at best is just a statistical term having to do with bell curves and
standard deviations and such. You cannot make judgements about the semantic
function of a genitive (the most slippery of all Greek cases) based on
statistical probabilities and end up with anything which will stand up to

Your question is an exegetical one, and someone else will no doubt expound
on it for you.



Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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