[B-Greek] Genitive Usage, 1 Peter 3:9 and Mark 11:22: (was "Theologically motivated translation, at times")

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Mon Jun 29 06:51:17 EDT 2009

On Jun 29, 2009, at 12:53 AM, Rod Rogers wrote:

>> Cut
>> Mark Lightman: The Greek genitive case can be used indozens of  
>> ways, and to leave it as simply an 'of' idea is often very  
>> misleading. For example, the genitive case is used with the  
>> comparative adjective for the idea of comparison. We would  
>> translate this something like, "His car is better THAN her car."  
>> The 'than' is the genitive word 'of.' But to
>> translate it as 'his car is better OF her car' doesn't make any  
>> sense.
>>> Carl Conrad: But the "genitive of comparison" is not an adnominal  
>>> genitive; it is essentially an ablatival genitive. I agree that  
>>> the preferable English is "better THAN ... " but the more  
>>> "literal" English would be "better OF ... " but rather "better  
>>> FROM ... "
> To me this does not take into consideration the fact that the  
> Genitive - Ablative first of all is the case of "marking off" the  
> boundaries. The Genitive - Ablative not only marks off the  
> boundaries and limits the context which is dealt with but can also  
> relate to that which is marked off. The possessive aspect of the  
> Genitive - Ablative deals with that which is between the marked off  
> boundaries. While this is the most often aspect of the Genitive -  
> Ablative, it is not the only one we find. In 2 Peter 3:9 we find, OU  
> referring to boundaries in which the EPAGGELIAS is found not  
> referring to the EPAGGELIAS itself. Therefore in 2 Peter 3:9 it  
> reads, "The Lord is not tardy regarding the promise". I believe we  
> find the same Genitive in 2 Peter 3:9 as in Mark 11:22.

I find this account altogether puzzling, not least of all for the  
reason that Rod Rogers asserts that the genitive EPAGGELIAS in 2 Peter  
3:9 and the genitive QEOU in Mark 11:22 are both "Genitive -  
Ablative." But I really find this description of the "Genitive -  
Ablative." incomprehensible: " The Genitive - Ablative not only marks  
off the boundaries and limits the context which is dealt with but can  
also relate to that which is marked off. The possessive aspect of the  
Genitive - Ablative deals with that which is between the marked off  

When I use the term "ablatival genitive," I am referring to the  
original PIE ablative case usage which was subsumed in the Greek  
genitive case -- the usage indicating SEPARATION FROM, most commonly  
found in expressions with the prepositions EK and APO but also with  
verbs of separation such as CWRIZOMAI (cf. BDF §180. I don't  
understand what all this about "boundaries" has to do with the  
ablatival genitive.

Nor do I really understand the genitive usage of EPAGGELIAS in 2 Peter  
3:9: οὐ βραδύνει κύριος τῆς  
EPAGGELIAS "ablatival genitive" with BRADUNEI?  Does BRADUNEI mean  
something akin to English "is slower than" or "is behindhand from"? I  
certainly don't think that "with regard to" represents an ablatival  
genitive notion. Yet BDF §180: " 2 P 3:9 οὐ βραδύνει  
κύριος τῆς ἐπαγγελίας ‘the Lord is not holding  
back, delaying the fulfilment of his promise’ also belongs here."

Maybe so, but I find the NET (translates 2 Peter 3:9 as "The Lord is  
not slow concerning his promise" -- but has a translator's note on the  

	Or perhaps, “the Lord is not delaying [the fulfillment of] his  
promise,” or perhaps “the Lord of the promise is not delaying.”  
The verb can mean “to delay,” “to be slow,” 	or “to be  

A search of the archives for 2 Peter 3:9 or BRADUNEI does not yield  
any enlightenment (to me, at least) on the relationship between  
BRADUNEI and EPAGGELIAS, if there is one.

> [omitted material]
> I think Mark Lightman hit the theological nail on the head. As I  
> said above, I don't think the text, ECETE PISTIN QEOU, is dealing  
> with faith in a possessive way as much as it is in marking off what  
> that faith is. It is a faith which is in regards to God. The whole  
> passage from v12 through 26 is dealing with faith. It wasn't that  
> the Jews did not
> "believe" in God. It was that their faith did not affect how they  
> worshiped God in a positive way. That is why Jesus drove out those  
> whose motives (and faith) where not
> right. Then Jesus moves to the cursing the fig tree and tells his  
> disciples that if they have faith "as within the framework of God"  
> or "regarding God", that is, "that their
> faith reflected the character and faithfulness of God", then they  
> could move mountains. It wasn't that the disciples had no faith in  
> God nor was Jesus saying that the object of their faith was to be in  
> God. I believe what Jesus was saying was to have faith in a Godly  
> context, manner.That is what the Jews lacked miserably.

Much of this focuses on hermeneutical matters bearing upon the  
"theologically motivated translation" perhaps, but outside of my  
concern regarding genitive case usage. I really fail to see how the  
usage of QEOU here is in any way similar to the usage of EPAGGELIAS in  
1 Peter 3:;9, and I certainly don't see how it can be called  
"ablatival" (or "possessive" either, for that matter). I am very much  
tempted to create a new term for a new subcategory of adnominal  
genitive: "meditative genitive." Really, however, it is mosst surely  
an instance of the "aporetic genitive" Wallace's acccount of the  
Aporetic Genitive (GGBB, pp. 79-80) is really so good that I think  
I'll cite it in toto. It's really about the best description of the  
general character o the adnominal or "adjectival" genitive that I know  
	1.  Descriptive Genitive (“Aporetic” Genitive) [characterized by,  
described by]
	a.  Definition: The genitive substantive describes the head noun in a  
loose manner. The nature of the collocation of the two nouns in this  
construction is usually quite ambiguous.
	b.  Amplification: This is the “catch-all” genitive, the “drip  
pan” genitive, the “black hole” of genitive categories that tries  
to suck many a genitive into its grasp! In some respects, all  
adjectival genitives are descriptive, yet no adjectival genitive is  
descriptive. That is to say, although all adjectival genitives are, by  
their nature, descriptive, very few, if any, belong only to this  
specific category of usage. This use truly embodies the root idea of  
the (adjectival) genitive. It is often the usage of the genitive when  
it has not been affected by other linguistic considerations—that is,  
when there are no contextual, lexemic, or other grammatical features  
that suggest a more specific nuance.
	Frequently, however, it is close to the attributive genitive, being  
either other than or broader than the attributive use. Hence, this use  
of the genitive should be a last resort. If one cannot find a narrower  
category to which a genitive belongs, this is where he or she should  
look for solace.
	c.  Key to Identification: For the word of insert the paraphrase  
characterized by or described by. If this fits, and if none of the  
other uses of the genitive fits, then the genitive is probably a  
genitive of description.
In the same category of Wallace's finest categories is one which we  
have mentioned before but that should surely not be overlooked, the  
Nominative Ad Nauseam" (I won't mention that "nauseam" is misspelled,  
but never let it be said that Professor Wallace lacka sense of humor):
	V.  Nominative ad Nauseum: Also known as the aporetic nominative  
(from the Greek word ἀπορέω, “I am at a loss”), this is the  
category one should appeal to when another slot cannot be found. The  
title is descriptive not of the nominative but of the feeling one has  
in the pit of his/her stomach for having spent so much time on this  
case and coming up with nothing.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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