Ichthys Acronym Image

Home             Site Links

Grammar Questions in the Bible.

Word RTF

Question #1:   I have trouble understanding Hebrew verbs. I think the tense is called "Qal", but I sometimes can't discern from reading a sentence whether the verb is past, present or future. I often look to Young's Literal Translation and find the verb "is" in a sentence which is obviously a reference to the past, and then I will see the same words written in a way that I would think would be a reference to the future.


Deuteronomy 22:19
and fined him a hundred silverlings, and given to the father of the damsel,
because he hath brought out an evil name on a virgin of Israel, and she is
to him for a wife, he is not able to send her away all his days.

"... is to him for a wife..." Wasn't she already his wife? (past)

Deuteronomy 22:29
then hath the man who is lying with her given to the father of the damsel
fifty silverlings, and to him she is for a wife; because that he hath
humbled her, he is not able to send her away all his days.

"...to him she is for a wife..." Translated in NASB, KJV, etc. as "shall be
his wife" --- (future)

MORE Examples (for fun):

1 Samuel 25:42
And Abigail hasteth and riseth, and rideth on the ass; and five of her young
women who are going at her feet; and she goeth after the messengers of
David, and is to him for a wife. (past -- story in history)

2 Samuel 11:27
and the mourning passeth by, and David sendeth and gathereth her unto his
house, and she is to him for a wife, and beareth to him a son; and the thing
which David hath done is evil in the eyes of Jehovah. (past -- story in

Can you shed any light on this, (if I am making sense)?

Thank you,

Response #1:  Well you have hit upon one of the really fascinating aspects of the ancient Hebrew language (and perhaps language development in general, at least as my personal theory of such things is concerned). Modern Hebrew, which was of course resuscitated in comparatively recent times, at least as a widely spoken language, is essentially Indo-European in its syntax, and that includes its verbal aspects. The explanation for this is that eastern and western Europeans were the ones responsible for reviving the language (Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the "father of Modern Hebrew", in particular). So a native speaker of Spanish, or English, or French, or of any of a variety of modern European languages finds the task of learning Modern Hebrew similar to that of learning other Europeans languages. Not that there aren't unique problems and obstacles. The alphabet looks different, for one thing (although it has the same original source), and also the formations of verb and noun forms are roughly the same as the ancient ones (though simplified). What is truly different is the "mind set" of the language. To some extent this is a subjective thing, that is, as in Modern Greek as opposed to the ancient variety and Italian as opposed to Latin, the entire way that modern speakers look at the world and think is quite different from that of the people who populated the ancient world, and to a remarkable degree that generally surprises anyone who comes to these languages and cultures from our modern perspective. But there are also many concrete differences in the case of ancient Hebrew as well, and your question touches upon one of the most significant, namely, ancient Hebrew really does not have "tense" in the sense of which we think of it. As moderns, we demand very strict time distinctions, but for whatever reason in the ancient world this was not necessarily the case, at least not to the same degree. There is strong evidence, for example, that, while pre-Homeric ancient Greek was originally more complex in terms of its forms than the Homeric and Classical Greek we possess in abundance, it originally was far less concerned with tense, and it is quite possible that the development of specific markers and forms to show that an action was in the future or definitively in the past were later developments. This might make some sense to a theory of "people getting smarter and language getting more useful over time" if it weren't for the fact that even by Homeric times, as I say, Greek actually was simplifying. And it is not as if it was impossible to understand time distinctions without the marking and specific tense system that developed in Greek as ancient Hebrew shows.

This brings me back to your question. In Modern Hebrew what we have come to call (at least in ancient Hebrew) the "Perfect" is the simple past, and what we have come to call the "Imperfect" is the future. But in ancient Hebrew, context decides the tense application. The "perfect" is more often than not a simple past tense, but very often in a prophetic context must be translated as a future in English. Scholars often refer to this as the "prophetic perfect" and it is occasionally helpful to think of the Hebrew perfect as admitting the possibility of being the equivalent of the English future perfect as well as the simple perfect (and sometimes even our pluperfect). A better way to envision this, although incredibly confusing to most people as I can attest as a language teacher, is to understand the difference as "aspectual". That is to say, the perfect really refers to the fact of completed action (regardless of time) whereas the imperfect in Hebrew really refers to the fact of continuing action (regardless of time). Context determines the differences in tense (which, in my estimation and experience really supports a theory of "people getting dumber over time, not smarter, and language having to adapt to help people see distinctions that were obvious to everyone long ago").

I won't trouble you with too much more information except to say that in ancient Hebrew, there is also the phenomenon of sequential distinction of tenses. There are loose parallels in Indo-European languages, but to my knowledge Hebrew is pretty much unique in how it uses simple conjunctions and an alternating sequence of perfects and imperfects to adjust and identify time distinctions. What this means is that the imperfect (which is sometimes future, sometimes modal, sometimes continuing action whatever the time) can, as part of this sequence, stand for a simple action in past time (one with a truly perfect rather than imperfect aspect), thus reversing its normal force.

If you find all this somewhat confusing, join the club. I spent many years researching and worrying about this problem. There isn't even the kind of bibliography that one would hope to find even on the scholarly level that has yet been able to render all this into a universally accepted (and acceptable) system. To my mind the best thing on the subject remains S.R. Driver's A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew (Oxford 1892). But even this seminal work is not without its difficulties, falls far short of being systematic enough, and leaves many, many unanswered questions. The bottom line is that in order to translate ancient Hebrew well, one really does have to be something of an expert. It's a little like driving a car. You can get a hundred books on it, but when you actually do it you find out a million things that are next to impossible to convey in writing.

All this is to say that without looking at the context of a passage in terms of its linguistic, historical, and theological meaning, it's really not possible to say whether or not a particular verb tense is correctly rendered. It's not that there are no "rules". It's more that they are very difficult to write down in a way that would let someone who has not mastered the language figure something out on their own definitively. I would also wish to say at this point is that the above is a gross simplification of many other issues of translation as they touch upon verb mood, tense, voice, and modality in ancient Hebrew, not to mention clause syntax.

Your examples bring some of this out. In Deuteronomy 22:19, where Young translates "fined", I would translated "shall fine". The verb is perfect, but it is in a sequence where the reader would always understand this as a future and modal construction (i.e., here, "shall fine" as opposed to just "will fine", but definitely not past tense in English in any case). On the other hand the verb translated "is" is in the imperfect, and in this particular sequence also has the same future and modal construction (i.e., here, "shall be" as opposed to just "will be", but definitely not
simple present tense in English in any case). In Deuteronomy 22:29 we have the same exact sort of sequence and tenses as in the previous example (and the same explanations). In both 1 Samuel 25:42 and 2 Samuel 11:27 it is rather a questions of the most common of the narrative sequences in Hebrew. Both of these verbs are in the imperfect, and both follow a waw "consecutive" (used to be called "conversive"). Without the sequence, we would expect a perfect, but with the sequence we translate the verbs as if perfect, i.e., as simple past tenses. This exercise, if nothing else, shows the dangers of translations that claim to be "literal": they often give a completely misleading (i.e., wrong) idea of what the original text really means.

I certainly commend you for your efforts, and I think that if every Christian did his or her utmost to try and get to the bottom of passages about which they have question (as you are obviously doing here), that we as a Church would be so much better off. I am always happy to explain and defend particular translations that I post to the site. When it comes to translations from the Hebrew, it is very common for my translations to differ from what one finds in the versions, often because my understanding of the meaning has opened up a reason to take the tense/aspect of a particular verb in a different (and in my thinking "correct") way.

Two additional notes:

1) the term "Qal" refers to the simple conjugation of the verb. There are a number of different conjugations of various verb stems in Hebrew. Hebrew verbs are, for the most part, built on three consonant stems, and if one adds a preformative letter to the stem (and etc.), one changes the conjugation, as for example qatal "he kills (or has killed or did kill!)" versus niqtal "he is killed" (or has been killed or was killed). This largely passive conjugation is called the niph'al (based upon its application to the common paradigm verb pa'al), and there are many other such. None of these, however, have anything to do with tense.

2) The verb "to be" in Hebrew (as in many other languages) is often left out. This is especially so in the "present" since there are no discrete forms that are technically "present" even in Modern Hebrew (although there is a way to signal the present).

I want to encourage you to keep up your good efforts to learn and drink in deeply the Word of God.

You may also find the following links of some use:

Hebrew Language Study Resources

Tools and Techniques for Bible Translation.

Bible Interpretation: Interlinears, Academics, Versions et al.

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations I

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations II

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations III

Bible translation and John 8:58

Are New Bible Translations Part of a Conspiracy?

Use and Origin of Bible Translations at Ichthys

In our Lord who is that very Word, Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Regarding Rev. 13:11, as per the KJV, "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon."

Therefore, can Rev. 13:11 be rendered as follows?

"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and it had two horns like a lamb, both/that spake like a dragon."

The Greek word kai/kai/kahee used in the KJV above and which is translated as 'and' has the following definitions: "a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words:--and, also, both, but, even, for, if, or, so, that, then, therefore, when, yet.

In addition, the word 'He or It' is not part of the Greek text itself, but is only added by translators for grammatical clarity. In summary, if the above suggested translation is correct, then it would appear that the 'Two Horns' are the ones speaking like a dragon rather than merely the Beast out of the earth itself/himself. To this end, can it be suggested then, that the two lamblike horns are perhaps two False Prophets that demonically mirror God's two True Prophets (Witnesses) of Rev.11:3-12? The gist of what I am suggesting regarding Rev. 13:11 is, while the 'Two Horns' of the Beast out of the earth may have all the appearances of being non-threatening, like the small budding horns of a lamb vs. the larger horns of a more mature beast, they are nonetheless lethal – they speak the destructive words of a dragon (serpent).

Response #2: 

As to your main point (embodied in your follow-up question), the lethality of the words spoken by the second beast can surely be conceded, no matter whether or not they are coming from the horns.

The word kai would almost never (if ever) mean "that". The quote you paste in suggests that it can do so "in combination" with other words, and the subordinating conjunction it would be paired with in that case would then have to assume the role of generating the meaning "that" (no such word here, only a solitary kai). Occasionally, we do find kai "in apodosis", that is, serving as a sort of conjunction (where it stands for the Hebrew waw – only really in biblical or biblically derived Greek: cf. Rev.10:6), but that is really something a little different (we leave it out in translation; cf. NIV on Rev.10:6). In any case, I don't think any of this matters for your argument, since things really hinge on the subject of elalei (see next paragraph).

Grammatically speaking, unlike English, Greek distinguishes in its verbal endings between persons and numbers, so that one can generally tell without difficulty if the subject is a "he" or a "they". Now there is an exception in Greek, namely, the neuter plural as subject which, although plural, takes a singular verb. The word for "horns" here is both neuter and plural, so that, theoretically, it could be the subject without violating the grammar. There are exceptions to the rule in Revelation and elsewhere in the NT, but there is nothing to say from a purely grammatical analysis that kerata couldn't be the subject of elalei.

That said, I think I would want an example of horns speaking elsewhere to be convinced. For there is nothing in the text or the context to suggest that this is how we ought to take the clause instead of taking it in the most natural way. What I mean is, like English, Greek is reluctant to repeat the subject for a string of clauses where the subject stays the same. For example, in the sentence "John phoned a friend, ordered pizza, and watched the game on TV", it is theoretically possible that Julie ordered the pizza and the friend watched the game, but in the absence of some signal to the contrary, we are surely right to suppose that John is the subject of all three verbs and that the reason his name is not repeated is that we would find it "bad style" to say "John phoned and John called and John watched", unless we are putting it in for unusual emphasis. The same is true of Revelation 13:11-13. Here we have fully six finite verbs in a row, none of which has "the beast" repeated as the subject from the beginning of verse 11. It is not only the normal thing to assume that the subject stays the same in the absence of any specific change of subject (and the "horns" are present in the text only as an object), but there is also the problem of how, if we switch to "horns" as the subject in the second verb, we are to know that we need to switch back to "the beast" as subject of the third (and remaining) verbs (as we surely do).

So I would prefer to do what all other translations I am aware of do and retain "the beast" as the subject here. For, although, as I say, it is not impossible from a strictly grammatical point of view to take kerata as the subject, it is an interpretation which has a pretty high mountain to climb in terms of contextual meaning in order to be persuasive.

Yours in our Lord Jesus.

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Could you please look up Rom. 14:9 and Col. 1:15. Now, is "Lord" in the Romans' verse a genitive of subordination? What about "firstborn" in the Colossians verse? Now, some have tried to say that "firstborn" is a partitive genitive (is that the correct term?), meaning that "firstborn" belongs to the category of "creation." Are these two verses direct parallels in structure? How would one determine if the two nouns are genitive of subordination or partitive genitives? Strictly on context, or can one determine it based solely on grammar and sentence structure? It seems to me context alone would show that the Colossians' verse must mean genitive of subordination, since it says in vs. 18--"He is also the HEAD of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." This whole sentence is about headship.

Response #3: 

The key words you ask about are not genitives - in either passage. In Romans 14:9 translations which use the word "Lord" are trying to bring out in English the Greek verb kyrieuo which means "to-be-Lord-over". So this is a verb, not a noun capable of being in the genitive, and the verb governs two genitives, "dead [people] and living [people]". As to the terminology one would employ in describing this particular genitive (i.e., "dead and living"), one could call it partitive or subordinate (or a number of other things). Grammatical terminology for the wide-ranging use of the genitive case in Greek (especially where there has been Hebrew influence - the "construct" or genitive equivalent in Hebrew does some very "heavy lifting") is by no means an exact science. Such terminology as is employed is only meant to be descriptive when used by serious scholars, not dispositive. What I mean by that is that there is no way anyone who wanted to be taken seriously would ever say something like "see, this is indisputably a _______ type of genitive, and therefore from that information we can derive _______". The first problem with this sort pseudo-exegesis is that it gets the cart entirely before the horse. The only way one can even hope to put a "tag" on a genitive in Greek is to understand how it is being used in the first place. What a serious scholar would say is, "see, it is clear from ____ that this word here means ______, so we can call it a _______ genitive (in order to help people understand it better)". The second problem with the logic is a bit more subtle but equally glaring: since we can only even hazard a guess as to "what kind" of genitive we may be dealing with by understanding it first, there will never be a time when we can say "because this is a _______ genitive, it must mean ______ here". This is a bit counter-intuitive because if we stipulate that something is a rose, we may be right in assuming that it smells sweet. But the analogy is actually false since none of the genitive classifications are anywhere as near as precise as anything like a rose. It is more along the lines of "good, better, best", when the criteria for determining these categories is entirely subjective: "let's call this rose, rose #3, the best of the three roses, only because we say it is the best of the three roses; and since it is the best of the three roses, ergo it must be better than the other two. The name of this particular fallacy escapes me, but in terms of the classification of the cases in the study of Biblical Greek it has long been very wide-spread. Classicists – because they have had to read a lot of Greek – understand that the language is way too flexible to employ any such technique (as indeed all languages are). Could we ever say "this is a partitive 'of' in English, therefore it excludes any possible element of description?" Not in the abstract. The best we could ever hope to do would be to actually understand a particular example and describe it accordingly, in which case we would be analyzing the language and not reversing the process by arbitrarily assigning terminology and doing a back analysis from that - Q.E.D.

As to Colossians 1:18, the word prototokos, "first-born" is an adjective in the nominative case, it modifies the He/Who of the clause (i.e., Jesus Christ). It is in turn modified by a prepositional phrase, ek ton nekron, "from the dead". The words ton nekron are in the genitive because the preposition ek always takes the genitive case. When it comes to objects of prepositions, trying to classify the different types of genitives (or datives or accusatives) is particularly unhelpful, in my view, though there are many who try (especially, as I say, when their experience with real Greek is somewhat limited). It is true that there are different ways in which certain prepositions are used, but it is generally more helpful to explain these via translation and the citing of parallels rather than once again asserting the false authority of a meaningless category, then working backward from a false position of categorical authority. I am not sure what commentaries you are using but it is possible that some have meant to take their "partitive" argument from the two elements within the word "first-born". Of course protos means first, and the second morpheme, tok, is from the verbal root tek which means to give birth. So "first-born" is a fairly difficult translation to dismiss. What exactly "first-born" means beyond its straight-forward etymology is something that must be determined as in the case of all vocabulary by its usage in the particular context and in the general context of the overall language. Indeed, in the context of the Old Testament, the first-born has preeminent rights, and it is unquestionably to assert those rights for the Messiah that this word is used in respect to our Lord. He is both the first human being resurrected from the dead, and that preeminence of sequence is certainly not independent of preeminence of status. He is not just "first", but He is the first for a reason, namely, His headship, leadership, preeminent sonship, etc.

I think you can see clearly by now that there is no parallelism between the two verses you ask about. One would never think so by even a cursory examination of the Greek, but because of difficulties in the rendering into English of the verb in the first instance and the adjective in the second, it is possible to see how one might think there was a parallelism through over-reliance on an English translation.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

I actually believe the dominion/subordination nuance is even stronger in Romans 14:9 than in Col. 1:15-18, but I do agree that the genitive pases ktiseos as being in a subordinate relation to the prototokos. As I'm sure you know, the third person singular of the verb kurieuse contains the head nominal to the compound genitives (dead and living) just as prototokos is the head noun to the genitive pases ktiseos in Col. 1:15. I take these genitives as being subordinated to Jesus. Anyway, let me know what you think when you have time.

Response #4: 

My comment on the two verses being "not parallel" is a grammatical observation rather than a theological one. There is, in my view, no grammatical parallel to be drawn, however I would certainly acknowledge that Romans 14:9 helps to explain what Colossians 1:15 means, namely, that "first-born of the dead" means rather more over the dead than it does from the number of the dead. If we are going to characterize the genitive here, I would say that the difference in meaning between these two ideas stems from how one wishes to characterize the verbal idea latent in the adjective prototokos. If we see it as essentially passive, then we arrive a the latter meaning, whereas if we take our cue from Romans 14:9 (as well as from a host of passages that connect first-born status with rulership) then we arrive at the former meaning. These are generally termed subjective and objective genitives respectively, with the former expressing a relationship where the genitive is essentially the subject of the substantive's inherent verbal idea (generating a passive voice meaning), and the latter expressing a relationship where the genitive is essentially the object of the substantive's inherent verbal idea (generating an active voice meaning). Although it ought to be simple, perhaps no case explanation has proved more difficult to grasp for my Greek students over the years than this one. But the principle is sound enough. In our case, Colossians 1:15, "first-born [RULING] over the dead" would be the idea behind the objective genitive, where the verbal idea of dominion or rulership is latent in the essential historical and theological meaning of prototokos.

Hope this helps - sorry for any confusion generated on this end.

In Him who is the Firstborn in every way, our Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

You say your observation that the two passages aren't "parallel" is more of a grammatical observation than theological, and from the ensuing discussion it seems clear that you're not disagreeing with my understanding the genitive nuance in Romans 14:9 as a subordinate relation to the verb's subject, rather you're not inclined to take the genitive nuance in Col. 1:15 and 18 as a subordinate one and so on that basis you don't see a parallel between the two passages. Thus you would disagree with Dr. Wallace as he explains the genitive nuance in Col. 1:15 below as he quotes from the NIV:

............."who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation" Though some regard this gen. to be partitive (thus, firstborn who is a part of creation), both due to the lexical field of 'firstborn' including 'preeminent over' (and not just a literal chronological birth order) and the following causal clause ('for [hoti] in him all things were created')--which makes little sense if mere chronological order is in view, it is far more likely that this expresses subordination. Further, although most examples of subordination involve a verbal head noun, not all do (notice 2 Cor 4:4 above, as well as Acts 13:17). The resultant meaning seem to be an early confession of Christ's lordship and hence, implicitly his deity." (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, page 104)

And Dr. Wallace supports the above in a footnote at the bottom of the same page:

"Cf. the theological statements to this effect in 1 Chron 5:1; Ps 89:27; Rom 8:29; Rev. 1:5" (ibid, 104)

So it would appear that Dr. Wallace's believes that relevant theological usages elsewhere should be included in any attempt to determine the intended nuance of the relationship between the head nominal and the genitive object (tagging). I had already been in agreement with Dr. Wallace on this at Col. 1:15, and THEN I cited the Romans passage to illustrate how that idea of subordination can be seen in the English expression, "Lord of the dead and the living", as really meaning "Lord OVER the dead and the living". At this point Mondo disagreed with my taking the Romans passage as a subordinate relationship, and the reason he gave for the denial is... "it's a verb not a noun". Well duh, of course it's a verb, but I'd have thought he'd know how to find the nominal to which the genitives are related as being contained within the verb's person (3rd singular---Jesus), and that was my point with Mondo.

But apparently you agree with him against Wallace's view that Col. 1:15 and 18 should be taken as a dominion/subordination relationship between the prototokos and the genitive referents. In that case it looks like you're in agreement with the school of thought that grammatical analysis (tagging) should be ontological, and if so then with respect I think I'd have to disagree. I'm thinking of the difference between verbal aspect and actionsart (unaffected vs affected meaning), the former is ontological, while the latter is pragmatic and dependent on the situational or contextual parameters. I think the latter brings us more closely to the intended nuance of the writer and I honestly don't see how (or why) grammatical analysis should be done within an ontological bubble ((I don't mean to suggest that you are advocating that since I'm not sure I've understood you correctly)). It seems difficult to thread the needle sometimes.

It seem to me that correct exegesis involves threading the needle between etymology, context (time and culture related as well as immediate), and idiomatic realities across the language barrier. This might be of particular interest to you, Dr. Luginbill, when Dr. Gundry was discussing the meaning of "apostasia" in 2nd Thess. 2:3, he was disagreeing with certain pretribulationists who appealed to the etymological root meaning of the word to use it in support of the pretrib rapture (apostasy---departure of the church) since it's etymology goes back to a spatial departure. But Dr. Gundry traced the word's usage throughout the LXX and NT (and the classical period) and found that it more often than not referred to a departure in the religious or political sense (rebellion)...by NT times. Thus against Wuest and English he concluded as follows:

"It happens, then, that apostasia had acquired the special sense of religious apostasy or political defection. Whereas aphisteme very many times carries the simple meaning of spatial departure, apostasia appears elsewhere in the NT and many times throughout the LXX solely with the special meaning. Such usage counts far more than etymology. We should take the meaning which a word had during the time and in the culture in which it was written instead of making recourse to a literal definition of the root. Thus, the terms "apostasy", "falling away", and "rebellion" do not overlay the Greek word with a questionable interpretation. They rather represent a valid and necessary recognition of the usus loquendi---i.e., they are true translations." (The Church and the Tribulation, Robert Gundry, page 116).

But I do think I understand your point about distinguishing between passive and active and subjective vs objective genitives (love of God may be our love of God...objective, or God's love of us...subjective), and prototokos if interpreted according to it's root may be taken in a passive sense (the genitive entity is the passive recipient of the Father's generative powers as in Deut. as Jacob said to Reuben). On the other hand, over time the usage (especially God's choices, Ephraim...David..etc) may have acquired a transferred nuance to status where the numerical significance has dropped off. Then when the term is used in a figurative application to Jesus (appointed heir of all things) the status emphasis seems more pronounced. From this I think Wallace is influenced to tag the genitives in Col. 1:15 and 18 as subordinates to the prototokos. In Col. 1:18 the "firstborn from (ek) the dead", IMHO should not be analyzed without including the immediately following "hina clause" (that he might become the one who is first in all things). The preposition merely reflects the fact that he is no longer within that category but has exited from it at his resurrection, but the following result clause indicates that it was grounded in his identity (death couldn't hold him because of who he was), and thus whatever numerical order one might note would be incidental to the main idea which is to achieve a status of superiority over the genitive categories.

I know that there is a low Christological motive behind Mondo's denial of the subordinate nuance for PASHS KTISEOS in Col. (and I also know full well that you don't have a low Christological motive), and for that I'm very grateful.

May God Bless you with his eternal grace.

Response #5: 

I really don't see that we are in too much of a disagreement here. I think in my last missive I allowed as how the idea of "being Lord over" is similar in the two passages (although in Col.1:15 it requires somewhat more filling in of the blanks). My only point on dissimilarity is that it is hard to compare on grammatical grounds a verb that takes the genitive and an adjective that takes the genitive, especially when there is no cognate root involved. That is of course not to say that the ideas are not similar, only that I don't believe the fact of the two genitive is particularly persuasive. After all, it is hard to find two sentences in a row in the NT that don't have at least one genitive of some type. Words have meaning, and when they are combined with other words that meaning can be complex. In order to understand that meaning, especially in the Bible, there often has to be a give and take of interpretation that includes many elements including the overall meaning of scripture and the clear limitations that the original languages place upon the possibilities. Grammatical analysis is certainly one tool that has to be employed. In my experience, the general rule is that such analysis when done correctly more often than not will limit rather than expand the possibilities of interpretation as we zero in on the precise meanings of words and phrases. If I have any criticism at all of New Testament studies generally it is that all too often lexicons and grammars are employed to produce possibilities that are really impossible. Exegesis that does indeed arrive at the exact truth of a particular passage is often as much of an art as it is a science. If this civilization were to be unearthed from the dust, the English phrase "as if!" might easily be misinterpreted by the use of lexicons and grammars, but any teenager today could tell you what it really means. Solving such problems without the benefit of native speakers calls for experience and judgment that exceeds the capacities of any lexicon or grammar by definition. And, ironically I suppose, because of the overwhelming importance of the true overall and complete theology of scripture, the progression of true exegesis is necessarily circular, since without understanding passage "B" correctly, one is going to miss something in passage "C", and the full and precise meaning of passage "B" is contingent on what one previously made of passage "A". With a good method and perseverance, the circle narrows in on the truth. With bad methodology, it can easily swerve farther from the truth with every gyration.

To clarify the above, I am in complete agreement with Dr. Gundry's analysis which you quote, and I believe that the method he describes and employs is exactly what I am suggesting here (at least as far as pure language usage is concerned), whereas the method he is criticizing is exactly the sort of thing that troubles me, namely, anything found in the grammar or dictionary is equally possible in any context - we could easily make utter nonsense of any sentence in the newspaper with that sort of license.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Ichthys Home

Bible Options
Bible Study Software