genitives in Romans 8.21

Are you learning Koine Greek, the Greek of the New Testament and most other post-classical Greek texts? Whatever your level, use this forum to discuss all things Koine, Biblical or otherwise, including grammar, textbook talk, difficult passages, and more.
Post Reply
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2947
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

genitives in Romans 8.21

Post by mwh » Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:05 pm

jeidsath wrote:something that I've been wondering about since last week. Romans 8:12

ὅτι καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ κτίσις ἐλευθερωθήσεται ἀπὸ τῆς δουλείας τῆς φθορᾶς εἰς τὴν ἐλευθερίαν τῆς δόξης τῶν τέκνων τοῦ Θεοῦ.

τῆς δουλείας τῆς φθορᾶς is a clear example of the objective genitive, I assume.

But what about τὴν ἐλευθερίαν τῆς δόξης? Is it a subjective genitive with ἐλευθερόω, set free? Is it objective and influenced by the passive form earlier in the sentence? The reading at Church that brought this to my attention had it as "glorious freedom," which didn't feel right to me.

(IMO, it feels like the idea of δουλεύω is somehow carrying over to ἐλευθερίαν -- something like "freedom in service of glory". But I don't have a grammatical justification for that.)
joel, Not all genitives are objective or subjective, and Paul’s genitives are sometimes impossible to classify at all. He’s not a clean thinker, he’s a preacher, with a preacher’s love of fuzzy rhetoric. This Romans verse (8.21) operates with binary oppositions. Primarily, between between δουλεια and ελευθερια. Secondarily, between their adnominal genitives: της φθορας vs. της δοξης. He says creation itself will be freed—freed from slavery, obviously; freed into freedom, even more obviously. Freed from “the slavery of destruction,” freed into “the freedom of glory” (the glory reserved for “the God’s children”). The paired genitives defy classification just as they defy precise meaning: “leading to?,” “consisting in?,” or what? Who’s to say? (Answer: only theologians.)

User avatar
Posts: 2714
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: genitives in Romans 8.21

Post by jeidsath » Mon Sep 03, 2018 2:25 am

Thank you. Paul's style does seem to get very excited here after verse 17. It's very clear for me up until then, but starting in 18, things become hard to follow precisely.

* The ἀποκαλυφθῆναι surprised me since τὴν μέλλουσαν is governed by πρός. But it's intelligible, and maybe it's a common syntax that I should recognize.

* The repeated ἀπο- in verse 19's ἀποκαραδοκία...ἀποκάλυψιν...ἀπεκδέχεται does not seem to add anything to the meaning in ἀποκαραδοκία and ἀπεκδέχεται.

* And then "οὐχ ἑκοῦσα ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα" struck me as a strange. It's a truism and doesn't seem to add anything that's not obvious in ὑπετάγη. Second, while I don't think that Paul has a problem talking about God subjecting all creation to vanity, is he really saying that God "hopes" for something?

I'll put down the last two to excited preaching and keep my eye open for other examples of the first.
Joel Eidsath --

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.

Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2947
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: genitives in Romans 8.21

Post by mwh » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:55 am

αποκαλυφθηναι προς ημας stuck on at the end of 7.18 is what could be called fuzzy grammar. The infinitive admits of no precise classification, in fact its scarcely grammatical at all, even though koine Greek does greatly expand the classical uses of the infinitive. He just wants to convery the idea of the coming glory being revealed to us. He’s a very vigorous speaker but not a very precise one. “The παθηματα of the present time are not worth (anything) against the coming glory”, i.e. they just can’t compare; then αποκρυφθηναι is tacked on—την μελλουσαν δοξαν αποκαλυφθηναι standing loosely for something like την δοξαν ἣ μελλει αποκαλυφθησεσθαι, I guess, which would be a bit of a mouthful and he wants to get "the coming glory" in first. I suppose “epexegetic” is the best we can do if we want to pin a label on it.

But I’m now in a forum I should have learnt not to contribute to, so will leave it at that.

Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 681
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: genitives in Romans 8.21

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:12 pm

Interesting discussion in which the the two of you have largely reconstructed the history of interpretation on this passage. I think it's best to read the genitives here as simply adnominal/adjectival in the broad sense, δουλεία characterized by φθορά, ἐλευθερία characterized by δόξα.

"It is now in the hands of the theologians" (paraphrase of the character Spock in "The Undiscovered Country").

Theologians like to be as precise as possible in their formulations, and as Michael has pointed out above, Paul is not so much.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Post Reply