[b-hebrew] "Species" of the Genitive Waltke/O'Connor

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Sat Aug 28 18:33:31 EDT 2004

On Saturday 28 August 2004 11:14, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:
> >This genitive has a syntax function. It binds two constituents together.
> > The semantic significance of the relationship between the two
> > constituents is not indicated in any way, shape or form by the genitive.
> HH: Actually, it is in the sense that the genitive has a range of
> known functions. The nominative has a different range of functions.
> So one can expect the relationship between the two terms to reflect
> one of the known relationships expressed by the genitive. Peter
> advises that students read a great deal, and he is right, but that
> might be the answer to most grammatical questions. Until one knows
> the language extremely well, charts and lists and categories can all
> be of assistance.

This ain't necessarily so.  First, attempts to pigeon-hole every usage into 
some definable category may or may not work.  Second, speaking from 
experience, too many teachers learned the categories and then turn around and 
teach them as the only possible ranges of usage: "in this passage, we have a 
genitive X.  Which category is it?" as though the categories have some 
intrinsic existence outside themselves.  This restricts exegesis, as well as 
thinking "outside the box" to an unacceptable degree.

As for the "range of known functions" of any given form, Greek provides a 
handy counter-example when it uses an accusative form as the subject of an 
infinitive.  Unhealthy adherence to these "range of known function" ideas 
leads to the kinds of convoluted nonsense that we see in some of the older 
Greek grammars that try to explain this particular use of the accusative as 
something other than the "subejct" of an infinitive.  I believe it was 
Dana-Mantey that reached the pinnacle of absurdity in this regard.  So these 
categories really tend to muddy the exegetical waters more than they clear 

Dave Washburn
"No good.  Hit on head."   -Gronk

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