Romans 3:1 --- No Verb?!
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Oct 14 06:51:09 EDT 1998
At 1:30 AM -0500 10/14/98, Maranatha Chung wrote:
>I am new to the NT Greek and
>I am working on Romans 3:1:
>TI OUN TO PERISSON TOU IOUDAIVOU H TIS H WFELEIA TH PERITOMHS
>First, in both NIV and NASB, the TI and TIS are translated
>as "What". However, from the lexicons, I thought
>TI should mostly translated as "what" and TIS should
When TIS/TI is used as an interrogative pronoun/adjective, it will
technically be a predicate word and will take the number and gender of the
noun to which it refers. TO PERISSON is neuter; therefore so is TI; hH
WFELIA is feminine, and so is TIS (TIS actually will serve for either
masculine or feminine). Generally we will translate TIS as "Who" only when
it clearly refers to a person--but TIS as an interrogative referring to a
THING, regardless whether the thing is masculine, feminine, or neuter, will
normally be translated "What" in English.
>Secondly, I don't find any verb in the verse, how
>can it be translated as "What then IS the...."?
Your question bears out your assertion that you are new to NT Greek: no
matter, you're welcome, and everybody has to face these very questions
early in the study of NT Greek.
A Greek sentence or clause may regularly omit explicit expression of the
verb "to be" whenever it is implicit, as it is in both these clauses; these
are what is called "nominal clauses" or "noun sentences," wherein the
subject is clearly indicated by a noun with its article and a predicate
nominative is also clearly present, more often than not even preceding the
subject. You can supply mentally an implicit ESTI between the predicate
nominative and the subject, so that in the above sentence an ESTI is
implicit in two places:
TI OUN (ESTI) TO PERISOON TOU IOUDAIOU H TIS (ESTI) hH WFELIA THS PERITOMHS?
This is one of the most ordinary and recurrent types of ellipsis (omission
of an implicit element) in Greek; you will find there are others that are
not uncommon also: when there are two or more parallel clauses, any element
that is expressed in the first clause that can be understood as present in
the second (or additional) clause can be omitted but assumed to be
implicit: for example:
hO MEN SOFOS TAUTA OIDEN, hO DE MWROS OU (TAUTA OIDEN).
"The wife man knows these things, but the fool doesn't (know these
Hope this helps.
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
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cconrad at yancey.main.nc.us
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