[B-Greek] Articular infinitives: distinguishing subjects fromobjects

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Fri Nov 28 00:16:43 EST 2008

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kenneth Litwak" <javajedi2 at yahoo.com>
To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 27. november 2008 06:32
Subject: [B-Greek] Articular infinitives: distinguishing subjects fromobjects

>   Articular infinitives, like all infinitives, of course take subjects in the accusative case. 
> For example, we have Matt 13;4 with a "circumstantial" articular infinitive:
> EN TW SPEIREIN AUTON ("while he sows/was sowing*")
>  My question is whether every accusative that immediately follows an articular infinitive must be 
> the subject and if not, how does know that it is the direct object instead?  For example, Heb 8:3 
> would seem to follow the articular infinitive with a direct object:
> PAS GAR ARCIEREUS EIS TO PROSFEREIN DWA TE KAI QUSIAS ("every high priest in order that he might 
> offer gifts and sacrifices")
> Are there any rules that can be applied to determine whether what I find is a subject or an 
> objectg?  This case _seems_ easy because I think I know that gifts and sacrifices would not make 
> sense as the subject of the articular infinitive. Is that the only rule, that the sentence only 
> makes sense if one takes the accusative as the subject or the direct object?  I'd like a better 
> guideline than that because one person's "that makes sense" is another person's "what were 
> thinking?" as anyone can tell by comparing any two commentaries.  Thanks.
> Ken

The example that comes to my mind is Php 1:7

"Because you have me in the (your) heart"

Which of the two accusatives ME and hUMAS is subject and which is object? There is no simple rule, 
so you have to let the context decide, and people do have different takes on how to interpret 
something in context as evidenced in the different interpretations of this verse:

NRSV: "because you hold me in your heart" - correct.
RSV: "because I hold you in my heart" - wrong because it does not fit the context. The order of 
words was taken over literally.

The order of the accusatives is a matter of emphasis and pragmatics. Note that KARDIA connected to a 
plural possessive pronoun can be either singular or plural, it makes no difference to the meaning.

Iver Larsen 

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