Phil. 4:7

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sun Jul 11 06:43:31 EDT 1999

I appreciate and agree wholly with what Carlton has said on this subject.
And since I am evidently the source of confusion on the matter, let me see
if I can do something to clear that confusion up.

At 7:42 PM -0700 7/10/99, Edgar Foster wrote:
>--- Carlton Winbery <winberyc at> wrote:
>>I agree with Carl's answer. The key to a obj/subj
>genitive is that it modifies a noun of action. Most nouns of action
>also have cognate verbs.<
>>Concerning the "peace of God", if you understand
>this to be the "peace that God Gives" then God in the genitive would be
>a genitive (ablative) of
>source in the sense of the peace from God. Peace
>however is not a noun of action.<
>Your point is well taken and I have no disagreement with you or Carl
>about subjective/objective genitives needing verbal nouns. Where I'm
>confused is that Carl's comment implied that since EIRHNH was not a
>verbal noun in Phil. 4:7, then it is not meaningful to speak of the
>phrase hH EIRHNH TOU QEOU as a subjective or an objective genitive.
>Maybe I misunderstood his comment, but that's what I derived from it.
>Carl's observation led me to question  how we determine whether or not
>a noun is verbal. It also made me wonder why some grammarians describe
>it the phrase as objective/subjective if there is no verbal noun in the

If I may cite Dr. Seuss, "I said what I meant and meant what I said" and
was understood correctly to say that it is not meaningful to speak of the
phrase hH EIRHNH TOU QEOU as a subjective or objective genitive. And I
think that needs to be expanded in view of your further questions, Edgar:

(1) Fundamentally, unless a genitive is partitive or ablatival, it is not
really a semantic case; it has been called most frequently "possessive" but
I have come to prefer the term "pertinentive": it is the case of a noun
that is dependent upon another noun pure and simple, and far more often
than not we'll use "of" or the English "possessive" apostrophe-'s' to
connect the Greek genitive noun to the other Greek noun when we put the
phrase into English: "the king's friends," "the gospel of John". We may
make some analytical distinctions for verbal nouns, such as "subjective"
and "objective" or even "plenary" (if we feel confident that a particular
instance includes both a subjective and objective relationship of the
genitive noun to the other noun), but the semantic interpretation is not
something that is built into the morphology as such: it is a translator's
device to catalog common usages of the morphology.

(2) I have no complaint against the passage you cited from Young:
"Regarding verbal nouns, Young says that "Discerning what should be
considered verbal nouns in a particular text is not simple." You continue:
"He then discusses endings which indicate whether a noun should be viewed
as verbal (-SIS, -MOS, -THS, THR, -TWR) as well as the words built on
verbal stems." But when you go on to ask, "Could EIRHNH fit into one of
these categories?" I have to say NO, EIRHNH does NOT fit into one of those
categories. All of those endings you cite from Young are endings attaching
to verbal stems: -SIS and -MOS are process endings, e.g. PRAXIS (PRAC-SIS)
< PRATTW: "doing," "executing" [a task], LOGISMOS < LOGIZOMAI: "reasoning,"
"calculating"; -THS, -THR, and -TWR are agent endings, e.g. POIH-THS <
POIEW: "creator", PRAK-THR < PRATTW: "performer/executor,, hRH-TWR ,
EREW/EIRHKA: "speaker." It is often helpful to endeavor to turn the noun in
question into a verb: "love of God": does God love? does one love God? Yes,
then "love" is a verbal noun; "peace of God": does God 'peace'? does one
'peace' God? Sounds silly, doesn't it? and "pacify" is a different word;
there is a Greek verb EIRHNEUW which means to "live in peace" or "act in a
peaceful way"--but -EUW is a verbal ending for a nominal stem, NOT a
nominal ending for a verbal stem.

(3) I too would wonder "why some grammarians describe [EIRHNH TOU QEOU] as
a subjective or objective genitive. And if I cannot discover or learn from
another a convincing reason why they do it, then I will reluctantly but
definitely conclude that they are wrong to do so. There's an important
point here about scholarship and authority: you may respect the author of a
grammar or reference work or of a statement that you want to accept, but
unless you see convincing reasons that stand up to objections that may be
raised by you or others to that statement, then the authority of that
statement is extremely diminished if not altogether negated--which is to
say, a grammarian must be judged wrong. You have to judge for yourself
whether you are going to accept at face value whatever you find in Young's
grammar or BDF or Wallace or Smyth; I think that you'll find what any of
them offers more convincing if and when they offer arguments and examples
of what they are attempting to demonstrate, but a bald statement that
EIRHNH TOU QEOU is a subjective or objective genitive is not one that I am
ready to accept at face value whether I find it in Smyth, BDF, Wallace,
Young, or any other esteemed grammatical reference work.

>Secondly, where you [put?]the verbal noun be in Mark 2:26?
>Young says that PROQESEWS is the verbal noun denoting the action of the
>priest in this verse.

Yes: PROSQESEWS is the genitive of PROSQESIS, which is clearly a verbal
noun (QE-SIS); PROSQESIS means "displaying"--and I think that the KJV
translators gave "showbread" as a version for TOUS ARTOUS THS PROQESEWS.
BUT note that in this instance, it is PROSQESEWS that is in the genitive
and so it is NOT an instance of a subjective or objective genitive, since
the 'head noun' is TOUS ARTOUS.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at

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