Subjective and objective genitive

Subjective and objective genitive

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » July 3rd, 2012, 9:29 am

I have tried to read and understand Denny Burk's article "The Righteousness of God (Dikaiosune Theou) and Verbal Genitives: A Grammatical Clarification", http://jnt.sagepub.com/content/34/4/346. Basically it says that δικαιοσυνη θεου can NOT be subjective OR objective. The reason is that the old rule, "if the noun has a verbal idea", is too vague.

Burk: (Greek rewritten without diacritics because of technical difficulties in copying)
This observation (found here and there in the standard NT grammars) is good so far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. Exegetes (and some grammarians) sometimes make the mistake of thinking that verbal ideas inhere in any noun that has a cognate verb related to it.


I would suggest, however, that the implied verbal idea does not rely on whether or not the noun in question has a verbal ‘cognate’. The primary issue is whether the noun in question derives from a verb. This is why Richard Young’s (1994: 29) recommendations for identifying verbal nouns are particularly insightful: ‘Discerning what should be considered verbal nouns in a particular text is not simple. Nouns with endings that name actions (-σις, -μος) or agents (-της, -τηρ, -τωρ, -τευς) are usually verbal nouns. Those which are built of verb stems...are often verbal nouns.’ As far as the δικ- word group goes, there is a nominalized form of the verb δικαιοω, but it is not δικαιοσυνη. The nominalized form of δικαιοω is δικαιοωσις. Nouns terminating with the -σις suffix derive from verbal forms and they denote the nominalization of verbal action. Nouns that end with the -συνη suffix (like δικαιοσυνη) do not derive from verbs nor do they denote verbal action.


What do you say about this? (I recommend reading the whole article, it's not too long.)

And the next question is of course: what does this mean for πιστις του Χ? (This phrase, but not the restrictions or explanations of the rule, was discussed in Mounce's blog, http://www.teknia.com/blog/how-can-geni ... 9D-gal-216.)
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Re: Subjective and objective genitive

Postby cwconrad » July 3rd, 2012, 10:57 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:I have tried to read and understand Denny Burk's article "The Righteousness of God (Dikaiosune Theou) and Verbal Genitives: A Grammatical Clarification", http://jnt.sagepub.com/content/34/4/346. Basically it says that δικαιοσυνη θεου can NOT be subjective OR objective. The reason is that the old rule, "if the noun has a verbal idea", is too vague.

Burk: (Greek rewritten without diacritics because of technical difficulties in copying)
This observation (found here and there in the standard NT grammars) is good so far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. Exegetes (and some grammarians) sometimes make the mistake of thinking that verbal ideas inhere in any noun that has a cognate verb related to it.


The cliché about "good as far as it goes but ... " always brings to mind (for me) a miscellany of statements gathered by a Philosophy prof at Tulane from papers and exams. One such statement was, "This assertion is good as far as it goes, but it goes too far ... "

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Burk: ]][quoteI would suggest, however, that the implied verbal idea does not rely on whether or not the noun in question has a verbal ‘cognate’. The primary issue is whether the noun in question derives from a verb. This is why Richard Young’s (1994: 29) recommendations for identifying verbal nouns are particularly insightful: ‘Discerning what should be considered verbal nouns in a particular text is not simple. Nouns with endings that name actions (-σις, -μος) or agents (-της, -τηρ, -τωρ, -τευς) are usually verbal nouns. Those which are built of verb stems...are often verbal nouns.’ As far as the δικ- word group goes, there is a nominalized form of the verb δικαιοω, but it is not δικαιοσυνη. The nominalized form of δικαιοω is δικαιοωσις. Nouns terminating with the -σις suffix derive from verbal forms and they denote the nominalization of verbal action. Nouns that end with the -συνη suffix (like δικαιοσυνη) do not derive from verbs nor do they denote verbal action.


What do you say about this? (I recommend reading the whole article, it's not too long.)

And the next question is of course: what does this mean for πιστις του Χ? (This phrase, but not the restrictions or explanations of the rule, was discussed in Mounce's blog, http://www.teknia.com/blog/how-can-geni ... 9D-gal-216.)


I think that the points you've cited are right on target -- and I shall take steps to read this article. I think there's been a great deal of nonsense spoken and written about adnominal genitive constructions, much or most of it set forth with a view to helping students translate the Greek genitive construction into English or another target language so that the implicit meaning of the author becomes explicit in the version. Too often that amounts to guesswork. The multiplication of categories of adnominal genitives in Wallace's grammar -- including an "aporetic" genitive -- is nigh unto a scandal on which I have harangued repeatedly. I am inclined to think that most interpreters of the phrase πίστις ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ and comparable formulations.decide whether they think it's objective or subjective genesis on the basis of their theological preferences. But there was a good article on this question by Moises Silva that I can't put my finger on.
Carl W. Conrad
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Re: Subjective and objective genitive

Postby MAubrey » July 3rd, 2012, 12:18 pm

Carl, I would expect that you're thinking of Silva's review in Themelios of The Faith of Jesus Christ: Exegetical, Biblical, and
Theological Studies: The Pistis Christou Debate
.

It's here: http://tgc-documents.s3.amazonaws.com/j ... s-35-2.pdf (starting on page 309 of the journal issue / page 117 of the PDF), who has graced us with a number of excellent quotes:

Moises Silva, 310 wrote:One could make other positive comments about several of the essays. it is most doubtful, however, that this volume will alter the structure or physiognomy of the debate. indeed, it may only add to the confusion. For reasons that can probably be identified only by a psychoanalyst, the topic has become more and more intractable, and one cannot help but wonder whether well-meaning scholars have begun to spin their wheels, searching for any faint evidence that might support their position while ignoring or minimizing the obvious and indisputable. in some cases, unusual and highly unlikely proposals are made that give the superficial impression of being plausible, and no doubt there are readers who will be impressed by them—all of this is a kind of confirmation that if you set your mind to it, you can “prove” pretty much anything.


Moises Silva, 311 wrote:With regard to the debate as a whole, I happen to believe, naively perhaps, that the evidence is not all that ambiguous—or to put it more accurately, that the ambiguities in the data are plainly resolved by Paul’s many unambiguous statements. If by pistis Christou (which in isolation can indeed signify any number of things) the apostle had meant either “Christ’s faith” or “Christ’s faithfulness,” it would have been ridiculously easy for him to make that point clear beyond dispute. Among various possibilities, he could have, for example, indicated—in the same contexts—one or two ways in which Jesus believed and how those acts of faith were relevant to the matter at hand. or he could have told us—again, in the same
contexts—that his message of dikaiosynē (“righteousness, justification”) is true because Christos pistos estin (“Christ is faithful”). what could have been simpler? And considering the theological importance of this issue, one would think that he might have made a special effort to clarify matters.
Instead, if some scholars are to be believed, Paul did not have enough sense to realize that the phrase pistis Christou is ambiguous. And to make matters worse, he unwittingly misled his readers by using the verb pisteuō with Christos as direct object again and again in the very same passages that have the ambiguous phrase! His bungling proved spectacularly successful, for in the course of nearly two millennia, virtually every reader—including ancient scholars for whom Greek was their native language—understood the phrase to mean “faith in Christ” and gave no hint that it might mean something else. (I might add that when Campbell, in a footnote on p. 67 of his article, seeks to undermine the linguistic argument in view here, he shows only that he has not quite understood that argument.)


As for the question itself. I simply don't think πίστις ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ really qualified for the debate at all. The standard type of example used in linguistics texts is:

(1) The army's destruction of the city.
(2) The city's destruction
(3) The army's destruction


In example (1), there is a clear agent and a clear patient. English defaults to a patientive/objective interpretation when there's only one genitive. Other languages disallow the kind of double genitive construction we see in (1) entirely (e.g. Russian). For Greek and our proposes, part of the problem is that the cognate verb of πίστις simple doesn't take an agent. I'm not sure that its useful to talk about subjective vs objective genitives when the cognate verb doesn't require an agent to begin with. And even then, I would be inclined probably to say that we're dealing with a syntactic/semantic distinction of English without a definitive parallel for Greek--i.e. Greek doesn't have two distinct genitive constructions.
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Re: Subjective and objective genitive

Postby Stephen Carlson » July 3rd, 2012, 12:52 pm

I don't think that the πίστις Χριστοῦ issue can be solved strictly by grammar. As with most of Paul, he can be so telegraphic that understanding what he says unfortunately requires having a good model of his thinking. It's a difficult exegetical spiral.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: Subjective and objective genitive

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » July 3rd, 2012, 2:35 pm

Believe it or not, even though the reason I was originally interested in the topic was theological, I wasn't expecting to resolve the problem with grammatical details and don't have an axe to grind. I became curious about the details themselves.

One question, which I failed to ask explicitly, is whether πιστις can have subj./obj. genitive by the rules represented in the article. People might automatically assume that πιστις comes from the verb πιστευω. However, the lexicons tell that it's derivative of, or related directly to, πειθω or πειθομαι - as is πιστευω. Does that have any effect on the question? How can the "derivation" rules be applied to πιστις?

MAubrey said something interesting:
MAubrey wrote:For Greek and our proposes, part of the problem is that the cognate verb of πίστις simple doesn't take an agent. I'm not sure that its useful to talk about subjective vs objective genitives when the cognate verb doesn't require an agent to begin with.

But according to his nature he left couple of levels (as in role playing games) between his text and his discussion partner, so I lost. Can you explain?

Has anybody researched the word in larger corpus than the Bible? Especially the construction πιστις+gen. I would like to see unambigous extrabiblical examples for any proposed meaning of the phrase.
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Re: Subjective and objective genitive

Postby Alex Hopkins » July 4th, 2012, 6:48 am

Eeli wrote:Has anybody researched the word in larger corpus than the Bible? Especially the construction πιστις+gen. I would like to see unambigous extrabiblical examples for any proposed meaning of the phrase.


Yes, extra-Biblical research has been done. One article is After ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ: Neglected Evidence from the Apostolic Fathers, J Theol Studies (2010) 61(1): 82-109 first published online March 14, 2010. According to the abstract, "this article investigates every use of πίστς with a personal genitive in the Apostolic Fathers". It also gives leads to other literature.

You might also be interested in
http://epistletothegalatians.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/new-journal-and-new-article-on-the-pistis-christou-debate/.

The following has something of the feel of a literature review but may be of interest as it is available online: The Faithful life of Jesus Christ and Covenant Fulfillment in the Judeo-Christian Narrative, by R. Scot Miller

The literature on the ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ question is voluminous. Even with the evidence of extra-Biblical texts taken into account, I agree with those who have already said, the matter is not one to be resolved by grammar alone.

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Re: Subjective and objective genitive

Postby MAubrey » July 6th, 2012, 10:12 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:One question, which I failed to ask explicitly, is whether πιστις can have subj./obj. genitive by the rules represented in the article. People might automatically assume that πιστις comes from the verb πιστευω. However, the lexicons tell that it's derivative of, or related directly to, πειθω or πειθομαι - as is πιστευω. Does that have any effect on the question? How can the "derivation" rules be applied to πιστις?


Thus is true. But the question is this: Is the linguistic etymology relevant? Even if there is no historical derivative relationship between πιστέυω and πίστις, its entirely possible, if not extremely likely, that the 1st century speaker:

(1) Had no awareness of the etymology.
(2) Potentially reanalyzed synchronically the relationship between the words so that they viewed πιστέυω and πίστις as related.

That is to say, while modern folk etymology is relatively useless for understanding the meaning of Greek expressions, ancient folk etymology is extremely important because it says something about how the ancient native speaker conceptualized the relationship between those words. But we'll never know for sure...

MAubrey said something interesting:
MAubrey wrote:For Greek and our proposes, part of the problem is that the cognate verb of πίστις simple doesn't take an agent. I'm not sure that its useful to talk about subjective vs objective genitives when the cognate verb doesn't require an agent to begin with.

But according to his nature he left couple of levels (as in role playing games) between his text and his discussion partner, so I lost. Can you explain?

I'm saying that the terms "subjective genitive" and "objective genitive" are misleading. The idea behind the terms is that a nominal phrase like "the army's destruction of the city" is syntactically and semantically parallel to the clausal "the army destroyed the city." And when you look at actual examples, its not really about subjects and objects, but about agents and patients. Rather invariably, these kinds of noun phrases involve:

A. Transitive verbs
Thus, a noun phrase like "John's knowledge" is not equivalent to "John knows."

B. Verbs with agentative subjects
A noun phrase like "John's sighting of the deer." is not equivalent to the non-agentative clause:
"John saw the deer" (paraphrase: John experienced the visual sight of the deer--whether he was looking or not).

Rather it is equivalent to the agentative:
"John sighted the deer" (paraphrased: John was intentionally looking for a deer and spotted it).

The question we must ask is: "Does πιστέυω take an agentative subject or not?" The problem is that πιστέυω has two senses: "believe" and "trust." The former is non-agentative. The latter is agentative. But which sense is relevant to the situation at hand?
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Re: Subjective and objective genitive

Postby NathanSmith » July 7th, 2012, 12:34 am

MAubrey wrote:Even if there is no historical derivative relationship between πιστέυω and πίστις, its entirely possible, if not extremely likely, that the 1st century speaker:

(1) Had no awareness of the etymology.
(2) Potentially reanalyzed synchronically the relationship between the words so that they viewed πιστέυω and πίστις as related.

A Greek prof of mine shared a great example from modern English: ear. The anatomical ear actually has a distinct etymology from an ear of corn. But most English speakers do not know this, and mistakenly interpret "ear of corn" as a sort of bizarre metaphor.
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Re: Subjective and objective genitive

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » July 7th, 2012, 6:48 am

MAubrey wrote:Thus is true. But the question is this: Is the linguistic etymology relevant? Even if there is no historical derivative relationship between πιστέυω and πίστις, its entirely possible, if not extremely likely, that the 1st century speaker:

(1) Had no awareness of the etymology.
(2) Potentially reanalyzed synchronically the relationship between the words so that they viewed πιστέυω and πίστις as related.

That is to say, while modern folk etymology is relatively useless for understanding the meaning of Greek expressions, ancient folk etymology is extremely important because it says something about how the ancient native speaker conceptualized the relationship between those words. But we'll never know for sure...


That sounds intuitive and logically convincing. The noun πίστις is the "content" of the verb πιστέυω, unlike with δικαιοω and δικαιοσυνη where the noun can be the result of the verb in the object (patient), or the referent of the nound can be a practical reason for the referent of the verb.

It means that Burk's statement should be changed a bit although the burden of the article isn't affected.
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Re: Subjective and objective genitive

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » July 7th, 2012, 10:44 am

MAubrey wrote:I'm saying that the terms "subjective genitive" and "objective genitive" are misleading. The idea behind the terms is that a nominal phrase like "the army's destruction of the city" is syntactically and semantically parallel to the clausal "the army destroyed the city." And when you look at actual examples, its not really about subjects and objects, but about agents and patients. Rather invariably, these kinds of noun phrases involve:

A. Transitive verbs
Thus, a noun phrase like "John's knowledge" is not equivalent to "John knows."

B. Verbs with agentative subjects
A noun phrase like "John's sighting of the deer." is not equivalent to the non-agentative clause:
"John saw the deer" (paraphrase: John experienced the visual sight of the deer--whether he was looking or not).

Rather it is equivalent to the agentative:
"John sighted the deer" (paraphrased: John was intentionally looking for a deer and spotted it).

The question we must ask is: "Does πιστέυω take an agentative subject or not?" The problem is that πιστέυω has two senses: "believe" and "trust." The former is non-agentative. The latter is agentative. But which sense is relevant to the situation at hand?


So, your referring to semantic roles. Do you mean that the subjective/objective (or agentive/patientive?) are possible explanations for genitive only if the phrase or its paraphrase has an agent in the strict sense of the word - that e.g. experiencer isn't enough? Why? As far as I can see this wouldn't explain the examples used by Smyth.
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