[B-Greek] Re: 1 Jn 2:5 hH AGAPH TOU QEOU
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Sun Jun 6 10:23:39 EDT 2004
At 2:37 PM +0300 6/6/04, Iver Larsen wrote:
>> I'm specifically wondering about
>> Carl's comment that "I am bewildered by the acrobatics engaged in by
>> interpreters who want to see more in AGAPH TOU QEOU than in
>> English "love of God". . . I honestly think it is silly to suppose that a
>> speaker or writer had any notion of a distinction between a subjective and
>> an objective genitive any more than if we speak of "car care" we give any
>> thought to how "car" functions in relationship to "care" in that phrase."
>> I agree that Greek speakers didn't consciously think "I'm using a
>> subjective genitive now." Yet at the same time, wouldn't they have had a
>> definite idea of what they were trying to communicate when they used a
>> construction (like AGAPH TOU QEOU)? The phrase is ambiguous by
>> itself, but in context wouldn't they have had a more specific idea? I
>> Wallace makes this sound like the genitive has this "meaning,"
>> when it's the context that determines the semantics of the phrase.
>> For example, look at 1 John 4:9-10:
>> EN TOUTWi EFANERWQH hH AGAPH TOU QEOU EN hHMIN, hOTI TON hUION AUTOU TON
>> MONOGENH APESTALKEN hO QEOS EIS TON KOSMON hINA ZHSWMEN DI'
>> AUTOU. EN TOUTWi
>> ESTIN hH AGAPH, OUC hOTI hHMEIS HGAPHKAMEN TON QEON ALL' hOTI
>> AUTOS HGAPHSEN
>> hHMAS KAI APESTEILEN TON hUION AUTOU hILASMON PERI TWN hAMARTIWN hHMWN.
>> It looks to me like John is making the sense of hH AGAPH TOU QEOU explicit
>> in v. 10 (OUC hOTI hHMEIS HGAPHKAMEN TON QEON ALL' hOTI AUTOS HGAPHSEN
>> hHMAS), showing that he did have a distinction in mind.
>I would agree with you completely, and I, too, was puzzled by Carl's
>comment, because it appears as if he says that the range of potential
>meanings of AGAPH TOU QEOU in Greek is equivalent to the range of potential
>meanings of "love of God" in English. But I don't think this is what he
>intended to say.
>When John was writing AGAPH TOU QEOU in the verse quoted above, he
>definitely had in his mind the concept of God loving people, not people
>loving God. The concept in the mind is not expressed by one word or phrase
>only, but a whole series of words. So, I agree that the following verse
>clarifies or builds the concept that the writer had in mind when he wrote
>AGAPH TOU QEOU.
>That is why idiomatic, communicative versions in English do not feel obliged
>to keep to the literal rendering "love of God", nor do they have any qualms
>about making the implicit agent for EFANERWQH, i.e. "God", explicit:
>NCV: This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son
>into the world so that we could have life through him.
>NLT: God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world
>so that we might have eternal life through him.
>TEV: And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world,
>so that we might have life through him.
While I do not "repent me in sackcloth and ashes," I do want to offer
something of a recantation of my wilder exaggerated statements regarding
"subjective" and objective "genitive." I really do not disagree with what
Iver has stated above. I've been having a very useful exchange with Martin
Culy over the slew of subcategories of adnominal genitive cataloged in
Wallace's GGBB, and as a consequence I think I've come to a clearer
understanding and a clearer way of saying what I mean by objecting to that
slew of subcategories.
I would still object to a claim that hH AGAPH TOU QEOU as a phrase in and
of itself means anything more than "the love of God" means as a phrase in
and of itself in English: these phrases in both languages are ambiguous.
I would agree that the context of the phrase as used in 1 Jn 4:9-10 makes
it clear that the author is referring to God's love for "us" rather than
"our" love for God.
I might be persuaded to accede to a sub-categorization of adnominal
genitives in terms of contextually-determined semantics and to understand a
list of such sub-categories as a pedagogically useful tool for a learner;
and perhaps that's how Wallace intends his catalog of subcategories of
adnominal genitives to be understood. Where I still have a difficulty is
with the notion that these various contextually-determined implied meanings
of adnominal-genitive phrases is something that adheres to the structure of
the adnominal genitive itself. Perhaps my view of the adnominal genitive
here is analogous to Porter's(?) claim that temporal reference is not
inherent even in an indicative tense-form of a verb but is indicated only
by contextual factors.
I also am pretty much convinced that one who has learned to read Greek is
unlikely to analyze the case-forms of substantives and the morphoparadigms
of verbs in order to understand a Greek text, so long as that text has been
composed by a writer/speaker who is/was competent in the language. The
analysis becomes important, however, when one is engaged in conveying the
sense of a text in another language: then it may be quite useful to have a
set of pigeon-holes for contextually-implied semantic possibilities of an
>Notice, by the way, that EN hHMIN is probable best taken as the experiencer
>or recipient in the context of "show". This means that "show his love to us"
>is probably more accurate than "show his love in/among us".
I think this is probably right too. I must say that I've been slow to grasp
just how far the usage of EN + dative has expanded in Hellenistic Greek
beyond the essentially normal locative range of its usages in Classical
Attic; I think that more attention needs to be paid to that in NT Greek
grammars--as also to the evanescence of the line between purpose and result
constructions with hINA + subj., EIS + articular infinitive, or hWSTE +
infinitive or subj.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
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