Since I am now moving deeper into the nuances of the Genitive case, I thought that I would review some information which has been helpful for me in my study with the hope that you up-and-coming greek-o-philes in the blogosphere will benefit from this post. Enjoy!
The Genitive case more generally can be classified as the “descriptive case.” As we will see, there is actually a “genitive of description,” but typically this title is only assigned to a usage of the genitive when the other classifications do not fit. This is due to the fact that in some way or another all the classifications of the genitive are “descriptive” in nature. In first year Greek students typically learn that a genitive is to be translated with “of” preceeding it. But in second year Greek (or perhaps earlier for some) the student will quickly learn that there are many other ways to translate the genitive. Indeed, there are plenty of uses which I will not be highlighting in this post!
An entire class of descriptions, the class of genitives modifying subtantives, can be clearly understood using “x of y” constructions (or at least the following breakdown was helpful for my understanding). Below I will write out some information to aid you in understanding this class as well as the class of genitives linked with a verb.
Modifying Substantives [function as adjectives] (“x of y” constructions, with x and y both noun or noun equivalents)
1. Subjective–“x is produced by y” –
“The love of a mother for her children is great.” or “…so also will be the coming of the Son of Man.”(Mt 24:27)
2. Objective–“x is directed toward y” –
“The love of chocolate can be unhealthy.” or “Have faith in God.” (Mk 11:22)
3. Descriptive–(quality, attribute, adjectival)–“x is characterised by y”
Behold, now is the day of Salvation. (Lk 22:1)
4. Possession and relationship–“x belongs to y”
“…the slave of the high priest” (Mt 26:51)
5. Partitive–“x is part of y”
“But another of the apostles I did not know.” (Gal 1:19)
6. Appositional (also known as epexegetical)–“x, which is y”
“…the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah” (2 Pet 2:6)
7. Source or Origin (also called ablative)–“x stems from y”
“the obedience that comes from faith” (Rom 1:5
8. Material or Contents–“x is made of y,” or “x contains y” (rare)
“a patch of cloth” (Mk 2:21)* or “a cup of water” (Mk 9:41)*
Linked with a Verb
9. Adverbial (answering “how?” “when?” “where?” “why?” or “how far/how long?
- directly modify verbs (e.g. time or measure)
- modify adjectives or adverbs
i. comparison–substitute “than” for “of”
ii. reference–substitute “with reference to” for “of”
10. As Direct Object of certain verbs-this is self-explanatory as first-year Greek students know that any case can function as a direct object.
11. Genitive Absolute–David Alan Black defines this as “a clause containing a genitive participle with a substantive that agrees with the participles…the genitive substantive should be translated as the subject of a dependent clause and the participle as its verb” (pp. 49-50 in ISGTM).
*Admittedly, I have no training in Classical Greek. Thus, the information here has been gleaned solely from my own journey into Koine Greek. Most of the here information comes directly from the handout Supplemental Class Notes and Examples used by Dr. William Klein & Dr. Craig Blomberg at Denver Seminary.
*the genitive of material or contents examples were borrowed from David Alan Black’s It’s Still Greek To Me.