AGAIN! (Re: Another question re. 2 Tim 1.12)

Carlton Winbery winberyc at
Fri Jan 8 02:16:42 EST 1999

Carl Conrad wrote;

>Carlton, do you use the term "epexegetic infinitive" (I really need to pick
>up a copy of your grammar, and it's not as if it were hard to get or
>expensive; sorry I don't have it ready to hand)? I think that what we have
>here is not a difficulty in understanding the usage but a question of what
>the best terminology to use for it is. I don't understand how an infinitive
>can be a "direct object" of an intransitive verbal expression like DUNATOS
>ESTIN. I could understand the infinitive as "epexegetic" or I could
>understand it as an accusative of specification; I certainly would term it
>an accusative case if I had to make a choice, but I'd probably prefer to
>call it either "epexegetic" or "specification"--i.e., like TOUS PODAS
>ADUNATOS--but I suppose you'd call TOUS PODAS in that expression a direct
>object also? I repeat: I'm not fussing about how we understand the
>infinitive: I think it has to be accusative and limit the force of DUNATOS;
>the question is simply what's best to call it.  There are times when I look
>back wistfully at Joshua Whatmough's "naive" declaration that all
>accusatives simply set limits upon the efficacy of a word with which they
>construe--and then we have to go and divvy up all the different kinds of
>limiting functions into so many different "accusatives."

Carl, we do use the term epexegetic but prefer to call it the infinitive as
a modifier. The question is, "Does the term apply to the infinitive as a
modifier of verbs only (most grammars in the Robertson tradition) or as a
modifier of any form?" II Tim 1:12 probably would fit better as the
infinitive as a modifier of an adjective.  If DUNATOS ESTIN = DUNATAI then
the use in Burton [Syn of Moods and Tenses, #387] might well apply.  He
calls it the infinitive as object and gives Heb. 7:25 as an eg. SWZEIN . .
. DUNATAI. When I wrote my previous post, I was thinking that DUNATAI was
used in this passage. It is clear that from the standpoint of the Greek,
the infinitive modifies DUNATOS which fits our category of the infinitive
as a modifier of nouns, adjectives, or pronouns (substantives). That would
also be the case of Mk. 1:7 hIKANOS . . . LUSAI. I would tend to agree with
Prof. J. Whatmough that accusatives set limits.  In fact I tell students to
think of the acc. case as the case of limitation r/t case of extension
(only with preps. that imply movement) as given in many grammars.

It is a problem of terminology, and at that point I try to use terminology
that is easier for students to relate to and remember.

I would also add the statement from Burton.  In #387 [Inf. as object] he
has the statement, "The verbs which are thus limited by an infinitive are
in part such as take a noun . . . in the accusative as object . . ., in
part verbs which cannot take a noun or pronoun as object but require an
infinitive to complete their meaning." I encourage students to think of the
later as complementary r/t as objects. I am in the process of revising the
Syntax book and I think that the revised ed. will much better like you than
the first (if it passes muster with my co-writer).

Carlton L. Winbery
Fogleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
Pineville, LA 71359
winberyc at
winbery at

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