A. Primary Uses of the Nominative
B. Grammatically Independent Uses
C. Nominatives in Place of Oblique Cases
The nominative is the case of specific designation. The Greeks referred to it as the "naming case," for it often names the main topic of the sentence. The main topic in a sentence semantically is, of course, similar to the syntactical subject, but the two are not always identical. Hence, the most common use of the nominative case is as subject.
The substantive in the nominative case is frequently the subject of a finite verb. The verb may be explicitly stated. But the subject may also be implied, "embedded," as it were, in the verb.
John 3:16 God loved the world
The predicate nominative is approximately the same as the subject and is joined to it by an equative verb, whehter stated or implied. The verbs used for this "equation" are, most frequently, eimi, ginomai, and uparxw.
Matt 3:17 This is my beloved Son
John 4:24 God is spirit
Nominative in Simple Apposition
The nominative case (as well as the other cases) can be an appositive to another substantive in the same case. An appositional construction involves (1) two adjacent substantives (2) in the same case (3) which refer to the same person or thing, (4) and have the same syntactical relation to the rest of the clause.
Matt 3:1 John the Baptist came preaching
The nominative absolute is the use of the nominative case in introductory material, which is not ot be construed as a sentence. A nominative absolute does not occur in a sentence, but only in titles, sautations, and other introductory phrases.
Matt 1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ
Rom 1:7 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nominative Pendens (Pendent Nominative)
This nominative substantive is the logical rather than syntactical subject at the beginning of a sentence, followed by a sentence in which this subject is now replaced by a pronoun in the case required by syntax.
Rev 3:12 The one who overcomes: I will make him a pilla
A parenthetic nominative is actually the subject in a clause inside a sentence that may or may not have a different subject;. It is the subject of an explanatory clause within another clause.
John 1:6 There came a man sent from God (his name was John)
Nominative for Vocative (Nominative for Address)
A substantive in the nominative is used in the place of the vocative case to designate the addressee.
John 17:25 Righteous Father, even the world has not known you.
Mark 9:19 O unfaithful generation! How long will I be with you?
Nominative of Exclamation
The nominative substantive is used in an exclamation without any grammatical connection to the rest of the sentence.
Rom 7:24 [O] wretched man [that] I am!
Nominative of Appelation
A title appears in the nominative and functions as though it were proper name. Another case would normally be more appropriate, but the nominative is used because of the special character of the individual described. The key is that the nominative is treated as a proper name, which is expected to be in another case.
John 13:13 You call me Teacher and Lord
The vocative is the case used for addressing someone or, on occasion, for uttering exclamations. A substantive in the vocative is used in direct address to designate the addressee. It technically has no syntactical relation to the main clause.
This is the use of the vocative without w preceding it. For the most part, no special significance is to be attached to the use of the vocative in such instances. (in many instance, however, there will obviously be great emotion in the utterance. In such cases, the context will be determinative.)
Matt 9:22 Jesus said, "Take heart, daughter! Your faith has saved you."
Luke 4:23 No doubt you will quote to me this proverb: "Physician, heal yourself."
Emphatic (Emotional) Address
This is the use of the vocative with w preceding it. Here the presence of the particle w is used in contexts where deep emotion is to be found.
Matt 15:28 Jesus said to her, "O woman, great is your faith!"
Jas 2:20 Do you want to learn, O empty man, that faith without works is worthless?
In the eight-case system, the genitive defines, describes, qualifies, restricts, limits. In this respect it is similar to an adjective, but is more emphatic. Under the five-case system, the genitive case may be defined as the case of qualification (or limitation as to kind) and ( occasionally) separation. The genitive is the most exegetically significant case to understand for exegesis and it must be mastered. We have had to omit large portions of Wallace's discussion and all of the exegetical examples. Be sure to read his full grammar on the genitive.
This broad category really touches the heart of the genitive. If the genitive is primarily descriptive, then it is largely similar to the adjective in functions. "The chief thing to remember is that the Genitive often practically does the duty of an adjective, distinguishing two otherwise similar things" (Moule, 38). However, although the genitive is primarily adjectival in force, it is more emphatic than a simple adjective would be.
Descriptive Genitive [characterized by, described by]
The genitive describes the head noun in a loose manner. The nature of the collocation of the two nouns in this construction is usually quite ambiguous. This is the "catch-all" genitive, the "drip pan" genitive, the "black hole" of genitive categories that tries to such many a genitive into its grasp!
Rom 3:12 Let us put on the armor of light
Possessive Genitive [belonging to, possessed by]
The substantive in the genitive possesses the thing to which it stands related. That is, in some sense the head noun is owned by the genitive noun. Such ownership at times can be broadly defined and need not imply the literal (and sometimes harsh) idea of possession of physical property. Instead of the word of replace it with belonging to or possessed by.
Matt 26:51 the slave of the high priest
John 20:28 Thomas said to him, "My lord and my God."
Genitive of Relationship
The substantive in the genitive indicates a familial relationship, typically the progenitor of the person named by the head noun.
Matt 20:20 the mother of the sons of Zebedee
John 21:15 Simon, [son] of John
Partitive (Wholative) Genitive [which is a part of]
The substantive in the genitive denotes the whole of which the head noun is a part. This is a phenomenological use of the genitive that requires the head noun to have a lexical nuance indicating portion. For example, "some of the Pharisees," "one of you," "a tenth of the city," "the branch of the tree," "a piece of pie."
Luke 19:8 half of my possessions
Rom 11:17 some of the branches
Attributive Genitive (Hebrew Genitive, Genitive of Quality)
The genitive substantive specifies an attribute or innate quality of the head substantive. If the noun in the genitive can be converted into an attributive adjective, modifying the noun to which the genitive stand related, then the genitive is likely an attributive genitive.
Luke 18:6 judge of unrighteousness (= unrighteous judge)
Rom 6:6 body of sin (= sinful body)
This is just the opposite, semantically, of the attributive genitive. The head noun, rather than the genitive, is functioning (in sense) as an attributive adjective. If it is possible to convert the noun to which the genitive stands related into a mere adjective, then the genitive is a good candidate for this category. One simple way to do this conversion is to omit the of in tranlation between the head noun and geitive, and change the head noun into its corresponding adjective. Thus "newness of life" becomes "new life."
Rom 6:4 so that ... thus also we should walk in newness of life.
Eph 1:19 and what is the surpassing greatness of his power (= his surpassingly great power)
Genitive of Material [made out of, consisting of]
The genitive substantive specifies the material out of which the head noun is made.
Mark 2:21 a patch [made out] of unshrunk cloth
Rev 18:12 cargo of gold and silver and precious stone
Genitive of Content [full of, containing]
The genitive substantive specifies the contents of the word to which it is related. This word may be either a noun, adjective, or verb.
John 21:8 the net full of fish
Luke 2:40 Now the child continued to grow and become strong, (being) filled with wisdom (or full of wisdom)
Genitive in Simple Apposition
Comments relating to both "Genitive in Simple Apposition" and "Genitive of Apposition."
The substantive in the genitive case refers to the same thing as the substantive to which it is related. The equation, however, is not exact.
By "appositional genitive" we mean both kinds of apposition (simple and gen. of apposition). Insert which is, namely, or who is between the head noun and the genitive noun. If this makes sense, an appositional genitive is likely.
Both categories fit the which is formula, so another test needs to be used to distinguish the two. If the word of can be used before the genitive in question, then it is a genitive of apposition. If it cannot, then it is simple apposition related to another genitive.
Genitive in Simple Apposition
In simple apposition, both nouns are in the genitive case and the appositive does not name a specific example that falls within the category named by the noun to which it is related. Rather, it simply gives a different designation that either clarifies who is the one named or shows a different relation to the rest of the clause than what the first noun by itself could display.
Matt 2:11 They saw the child with Mary, his mother
Eph 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
Genitive of Apposition (Epexegetical Genitive, Genitive of Definition)
[which is, that is, namely, who is]
See the opening comments in the previous category.
In the genitive of apposition, the head noun will (1) state a large category, (2) be ambiguous, or (3) be metaphorical in its meaning, while the genitive names a concrete or specific example that either falls within that category, clarifies its ambiguity, or brings the metaphor down to earth.
Luke 22:1 the feast of unleavened bread
John 2:21 He was speaking concerning the temple of his body (= the temple, which is his body)
Genitive of Subordination [over]
The genitive substatntive specifies that which is subordinated to or under the dominion of the head noun.
Matt 9:34 the ruler over the demons
The ablatival genitive basically involves the notion of separation. This idea can be static (i.e., in a separate state) or progressive (movement away from, so as to become separated). The emphasis may be on either the state resulting from the separation or the cause of separation (in the latter, origin or source is emphasized). For the most part, the ablative gentive is being repaced in Koine Greek by ek or apo with the genitive.
Genitive of Separation [out of, away from, from]
The genitive substantive is that from which the verb or sometimes the head noun is separated. Thus the genitive is used to indicate the point of departure.
Matt 10:14 Shake the dust from your feet.
Eph 2:12 having been alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.
Genitive of Comparison [than]
Then genitive substantive, almost always after a comparative adjective (e.g., pleiwn, meizwn), is used to indicate comparison. The genitive, then, is the standard against which the comparison is made.
Matt 6:25 Is not your life worth more than food?
John 14:28 The Father is greater than I [am]
The subjective, objective, and plenary genitives are used with head nouns that involve a verbal idea. That is, the head noun has a verb as a cognate (e.g., Basileus has Basileuw as cognate).
The genitive substantive functions semantically as the subject of the verbal idea implicit in the head noun. If a subjective genitive is suspected, attempt to convert the verbal noun to which the genitive is related into a verbal form and turn the genitive into its subject. Thus, for example, "the revelation of Jesus Christ" in Gal 1:12 becomes "[What/the fact that] Jesus Christ reveals."
Matt 24:27 So will the coming of the Son of Man be (= So shall it be when the Son of Man comes).
Rom 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ (= Who will separate us from Christ's love for us)?
The genitive substantive functions semantically as the direct object of the verbal idea implicit in the head noun. When an objective genitive is suspected, attempt to convert the verbal noun to which the genitive is related into a verbal form and turn the genitive into its direct object. Thus, for example, "a demonstration of his righteousness" in Rom 3:25 becomes "demonstrating his righteousness." A simpler and less fool-proof method is to supply for the word of the words for, about, concerning, toward, or sometimes against.
Matt 12:31 But the blasphemy of the Spirit will not be forgiven (= blasphemy against the Spirit" or "blaspheming the Spirit").
Luke 11:42 Woe to you Pharisees! For ... you neglected justice and love that you have for God!
The noun in the genitive is both subjective and objective. In most cases, the subjective produces the objective notion. Simply apply the "keys" used for the subjective and objective genitives. If both ideas seem to fit in a given passage, and do not contradict but rather complement on another, then there is a good possibility that the genitive in question is a plenary genitive.
2Cor 5:14 for the love of Christ constrains us
Rom 5:5 The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
This is the use of the genitive that is similar in force to an adverb. As well, often this use of the genitive has the force of a prepositional phrase. Thus the genitive will normally be related to a verb or adjective rather than a noun. (Even in instances where it is dependent on a noun, there is usually an implicit verbal idea in the noun.)
Genitive of Time [within which, during which]
The genitive substantive indicates the kind of time, or time within which the word to which it stands related takes place. The easiest way to remember the genitive of time (as opposed to the dat. and acc. of time) is to relate the genitive back to its basal signifiance. The genitive is the case of quality, attribute, description, or kind. Thus, the genitive of times indicates kind of time.
John 3:2 He came to him during the night.
1Thess 2:9 working night and day
Genitive of Association [in association with]
The genitive substantive indicates the one with whom the noun to which it stands related is associated.
Matt 23:30 We would not have shared with them in the blood of the prophets
Rom 8:17 Now if we are children, [we are] also heirs: on the one hand, heirs of God, on the other hand, fellow heirs with Christ.
There are some uses of the genitive that do not neatly fit into any of the above categories. Or, if they do fit into one of the above categories, they are related to a word other than a noun.
Genitive After Certain Verbs (as a Direct Object)
Certain verbs take a genitive substantive as a direct object. These verbs commonly correspond in meaning to some other function of the genitive, e.g., separation, partitive, source, etc. The predominant uses can be grouped into four types of verbs: sensation, emotion/volition, sharing, ruling.
Mark 5:41 Touching the hand of the little girl, he said to her, "Talitha cum."
Genitive After Certain Adjectives (and Adverbs)
Certain adjectives (such as axios, "worth [of]") and adverbs normally take a genitive "object". In many instances the adjective/adverb is an embedded transitive verb, thus taking an objective genitive (e.g. "he is deserving of X" means "he deserves X") or involving a partitive idea.
Matt 26:66 He is deserving of death.
The true dative is used to designate the person more remotely concerned. It is the case of personal interest, pointing out the person to or for whom something is done. Since the dative, instrumental, and locative share the same form, we will consider them as one case ("case" being defined as a matter of form rather than function within the five-case system). The instrumental idea involves means and generally answers the question, "How?" The locative notion involves place and answers the question, "Where?" Thus, a broad view of the dative case suggests that it answers one of three questions: To/for whom? How? or Where?
The subgroups here are specific uses built on the root idea of personal interest and reference/respect.
1. Dative of Indirect Object [to, for]
The dative substantive is that to or for which the action of a verb is performed. The indirect object will only occur with a transitive verb. When the transitive verb is in the active voice, the indirect object receives the direct object ("the boy hit the ball to me"); when the verb is in the passive voice, the indirect object receives the subject of the verb ("the ball was hit to me"). The keys are (1) the verb must be transitive, and (2) if the dative can be translated with to or for it is most likely indirect object.
John 4:10 and he would have given to you living water
Luke 1:13 Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son to you, and you will call his name John
Dative of Interest [for the benefit of, in the interest of / to the disadvantage of, against]
The dative substantive indicates the person (or, rarely, thing) interested in the verbal action. The dative of advantage (commodi) has a to or for idea, while the dative of disadvantage (incommodi) has an against idea.
Matt 23:31 You testify against yourselves
1Cor 6:13 food is for [the benefit of] the stomach
Dative of Reference / Respect [with reference to]
The dative substantive is that in reference to which something is presented as true. An author will use this dative to qualify a statement that would otherwise typically not be true.
Rom 6:2 How shall we who died [with reference ] to sin still live in it?
Rom 6:11 Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God
Dative in Simple Apposition
Though not technically a syntactical category, the dative case (as well as the other cases) can be an appositive to another substantive in the same case. An appositional construction involves two adjacent substantives that refer to the same person or thing and have the same syntactical relation to the rest of the clause. The first dative substantive can belong to any dative category and the second is merely a clarification of who or what is mentioned. Thus, the appositive "piggy-backs" on the first dative's use, as it were.
Matt 27:2 They handed [him] over to Pilate, the governor
Luke 1:47 My spirit rejoices in God my Savior
The subgroups here are specific uses built on the root idea of position, whether spatial, nonphysical, or temporal.
Dative of Sphere [in the sphere of]
The dative substantive indicates the sphere or realm in which the word to which it is related takes place or exists. Normally this word is a verb, but not always.
Acts 16:5 The churches grew in faith
Matt 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart
Dative of Time (when)
The noun in the dative indicates the time when the action of the main verb is accomplished. The dative routinely denotes point of time, answering the questioni "When?" In the eight-case system, this would abe the locative of time. Though common enough, this usagae is being increasingly replaced in Koine Greek with en + the dative.
Matt 17:23 [At a point in time] on the third day he will be raised
Matt 24:20 But pray that your flight will not be during the winter nor on the sabbath
This subgroups here are specific uses built on the root idea of means, although some loosely fit under this umbrella.
Dative of Association (Accompaniment, Comitative) [in association with]
The dative substantive indicates the person or thing one associates with or accompanies
Acts 9:7 the men who were traveling with him
2Cor 6:14 Do not become unequally yoked [in association] with unbelievers
Dative of Manner (Adverbial Dative) [with, in (answering "How?")]
The dative substantive denotes the manner in which the action of the verb is accomplished. Like many adverbs, this use of the dative answers the question "How?" The manner can be an accompanying action, attitude, emotion, or circumstance. Hence, such a dative noun routinely has an abstract quality. This usage is being supplanted by en + dative (or meta + gen) in Koine Greek.
John 7:26 He speaks with boldness (= boldly)
1Cor 10:30 if I partake [of the food] with thanksgiving (= thankfully)
Dative of Means/Instrument [by, by means of, with]
The dative substantive is used to indicate the means or instrument by which the verbal action is accomplished.
Matt 8:16 He cast out the spirits by [means of] a word
John 11:2 She wiped his feet with her hair.
Dative of Measure/ Degree of Difference [by]
The dative substantive, when following or preceeding a comparative adjective or adverb, may be used to indicate the extent to which the comparison is true or the degree of difference that exists in the comparison.
Rom 5:8-9 While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more [literally, "more by much"], then, since we have now been justified by his blood, we will be saved from the [coming] wrath through him.
Phil 2:12 you obeyd ... much more in my absence.
Dative of Cause [because of]
The dative substantive indicates the cause or basis of the action of the verb.
Luke 15:17 How many of my father's hirelings are overflowing in bread, but I am perishing here because of a famine?
Rom 4:20 He did not waver because of unbelief
There are some uses of the dative that do not neatly fit into any of the above categories
12. Dative Direct Object
A number of verbs take the dative as their direct object. Also, it should be noted that such datives are usually related to verbs implying personal relation. Thus the meanings of the verbs correspond in meaning to the basic ideas of the pure dative.
Heb 1:6 And let all the angels of God worship him.
13. Dative After Certain Nouns
A few nouns take datives after them. Again, the notion of personal interest is almost always seen. This category is not particularly common. These nouns are verbal nouns (i.e. they are cognate to a verb) Furthermore, frequently that noun finds its counterpart in one of the verbs taking a dative direct object
Matt 8:34 All the city came out for a meeting with Jesus
1Cor 16:15 service to all the saints
14. Dative After Certain Adjectives
A few adjectives are followed by the dative case. Once again, when the idea of personal interest appears, the dative is naturally used.
Matt 13:31 The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
Rom 1:30 disobedient to parents
The accusative is used to limit the action of a verb as to extent, direction, or goal. "The accusative measures an idea as to its content, scope, direction" (Robertson, 468).
Accusative Direct Object
The accusative substantive indicates the immediate object of the action of a transitive verb. It receives the action of the verb. In this way it limits the verbal action.
Matt 5:46 if you love those who love you
Mark 2:17 I did not come to call the righteous but sinners
There are two types of double accusative constructions - i.e., constructions in which a verb takes two accusatives. Because the semantics are different, it is important to distinguish them.
a. Double Accusative of the Person and Thing
Certain verbs take two direct objects, one a person and the other a thing. The thing is the nearer object; the person is the more remote object. Another way to put this is that the person is the object affected, while the thing is the object effected.
John 14:26 He will teach you all things
Matt 27:31 They stripped him of [his] robe and put his own garments on him.
b. Double Accusative of Object-Complement
An object-complement double accusative is a construction in which one accusative substantive is the direct object of the verb and the other accusative (either noun, adjective, participle, or infinitive) complements the object in that it predicates something about it. The complement may be substantival or adjectival. This usage occurs only with certain kinds of verbs.
Matt 22:43 David in the Spirit calls him[obj] Lord [comp]
Matt 4:19 I will make you[obj] fishers[comp] of men.
The accusative substantive (or adjective) stands in predicate relation to another accusative substantive. The two will be joined by an equative verb, either an infinitive or participle.
Luke 4:41 They knew that he was the Christ.
Eph 2:21 although you were dead in [your] trespasses
Accusative Subject of the Infinitive
The accusative substantive frequently functions semantically as the subject of the infinitive. Though older grammars insist that technically this is an accusative of respect, from a descriptive and functional perspective, it is better to treat it as subject.
Matt 22:3 He sent his servants to call those who had been invited
Heb 5:12 You need someone to teach you.
Accusative in Simple Apposition
Though not technically a syntactical category, the accusative case (as well as the other cases) can be adjacent to another substantive in the same case. An appositional construction involves two adjacent substantives that refer to the same person or thing and have the same syntactical relation to the rest of the clause. The first accusative substantive can belong to any accusative category, and the second is merely a clarification of who or what is mentioned. Thus, the appositive "piggy-backs" on the first accusative's use, as it were.
Mark 1:16 Andrew the brother of Simon
Acts 16:31 Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.
Adverbial Accusative (Accusative of Manner)
The accusative substantive functions semantically like an adverb in that it qualifies the action of the verb rather than indicating quantity or extent of the verbal action. It frequently acts like an adverb of manner, though not always.
Matt 10:8 You received freely, freely give
Matt 6:33 but seek first the kingdom of God
Accusative of Measure (Extent of Time or Space) [for the extent of, for the duration of]
The accusative substantive indicates the extent of the verbal action. This can either be how far (extent of space) or for how long (extent of time).
Luke 2:44 but assuming that he was in the group, they went a day's journey
Matt 20:6 Why have you been standing here idle the whole day?
Accusative of Respect or (General) Reference [with reference to, or concerning]
The accusative substantive restricts the reference of the verbal action. It indicates with reference to what the verbal action is represented as true.
Matt 27:57 a rich man from Arimathea, Joseph by name
John 6:10 Then the men sat down - with reference to number about 5000
Edition: Feb 10,2009