“Abso-tively, Posi-lutely” Unusual: The Greek “Genitive Absolute” Construction!

Yes, the Greek “Genitive Absolute” construction is “abso-tively, posi-lutely unusual!! But . . . you can still translate this unusual Greek construction. Here are five plausible steps for recognizing and translating the  “Genitive Absolute” —

(1) Identify the “Genitive Absolute” construction = a circumstantial participle and a noun or pronoun, both occurring in the genitive case in a “dependent” clause.


1. χρονίζοντος δὲ τοῦ νυμφίου ἐνύσταξαν πᾶσαι καὶ ἐκάθευδον.(Matt. 25:5)

“And while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.”

2.τοῦ δὲ ‘Ιησοῦ γεννήθεντος ἐν Βηθλέεμ . . . ἰδοῦ μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν παρεγένοντο εἰς ’Ιεροσόλυμα.(Matthew 2:1)

“And after Jesus was born in Bethlehem . . . behold wise men from the East arrived in Jerusalem.”

(2) Translate the main (“independent”) clause of the sentence (the part not containing the “genitive absolute” construction).

(3) Identify the time frame (present or past time) of the Indicative verb in the main (“independent”) clause. The time frame of the participle in the “genitive absolute” construction will be translated either as being “simultaneous” with the time frame of the Indicative verb of the main (“independent”) clause, or as occurring “prior” to the time frame of the main Indicative verb (see point 5, below).

(4) Translate the noun or pronoun in the “genitive absolute” construction (“dependent” clause) as if it were in the Nominative case. And finally . . .

(5Translate the genitive participle as an indicative verb, preceded by the adverbial, circumstantial word “While…” if the participle is a Present tense participle, or with the word “After…” if the participle is in the Aorist tense.

Click here for a downloadable PDF, also available anytime from the sidebar under the category GREEK “UNUSUAL CONSTRUCTIONS”.

I’ll Not Remain “Mute” About This!

I’ll not remain mute about this.  I’ll teach you something about “Mute Stem” changes (JPEG) within Greek verbs, so you won’t need to remain “mute” about the subject, either!  As a New Testament Greek student it can be helpful in the “short run” (or longer) if you can visualize in your “mind’s eye” certain critical pieces of information.  Some of that critical information is this: “What happens when certain Greek consonants collide with other Greek consonants, and why? Please read the following treatise on “Mute Stem” changes where, below the following chart, I will give you a fairly easy way to “set up this chart” in your mind.

The basic components (the “labials,” “gutterals” and “dentals”) of the above “Mute Stems Changes”chart can be fairly easily replicated in your mind if you remember this “set up” process.  While these three categories of Greek letters (“labials,” “gutterals” and “dentals”) are listed horizontally as they function within the chart, it’s easier to set them up vertically. Here’s how:

(1) Start reciting the Greek alphabet: αβγ...δthen start writing the letters (vertically) as soon as you get to β, γ, δYou now have the first letter of each of the three categories of letters.

(2) Next, vertically write (with Greek letters) the first letters of the acronym:preachers’ kids (are) terrific”…or…π, κ, τNow you have the second letters of each row.

(3) For the final vertical row, add the Greek equivalent of an“h” to the letters you just wrote (π, κ, τ), resulting in: φ, χ, θ. With this done, you can now more easily memorize the results of collisions with various consonants that occur.

Go to: Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK.com

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The “Rhyme & Reason” of 3rd Declension Greek Noun Irregularities

As you grapple with the inherent “irregularities” of Greek  3rd Declension nouns, I would strongly encourage you to be diligent to memorize the 3rd Declension Greek noun endings from this comprehensive nouns chart, just as you would the other two (easier?) declensions with their various genders and/or variations (i.e., 1st Declension). If you will do that, you will find that they are easier to identify in context, and the reasons for their various “irregularities” will be much easier to comprehend. The following discussion and related charts (click for larger, clearer view) should also provide some study help visuals.

Note:  The two pages imaged above discussing and charting the declension of various types of 3rd Declension nouns are also available anytime from the sidebar as a downloadable PDF.

Go to: Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK.com

Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK Now Available for Purchase as a Watermarked PDF!

“You ain’t nothin’ but a noun dog, declining all the time!” . . . OR . . . “The ‘Satellite View’ of all Greek Noun Declensions”

The following Greek Nouns Declensions chart, available here as a downloadable PowerPoint presentation and here as a downloadable PDF, details all of the types and genders of nouns that the New Testament Greek student will encounter. I know of no other paradigm in existence that condenses all of these case endings—based on the “8-case” paradigm—into a single, concise chart of all Greek noun declensions. I call it the satellite view of all Greek noun endings. Of significant value are the horizontal relationships existing between each type of noun presented in a vertical layout that can be clearly observed in this comprehensive, single-page layout. Assisting in your memorization of these endings are the use of arrows showing either identical or similar continuity, and yellow highlights denoting pattern shifts.

* NΟΤΕ:  The PowerPoint presentation also includes an overview of the “8-case” system, as well as a static view of the declension and translation of the 2nd declension masculine noun λόγος.

Of particular significance within the eight-case system for inflected noun endings are two additional cases not readily found in the more widely used five-case system. Sharing the same endings, singular and plural, as the Dative case are the Locative and Instrumental cases. As a memory aid, a helpful acronym for these three cases is to refer to them as the “L.I.D.” cases, particularly since their singular and plural forms always reveal, either an “iota subscript” or an iota “sandwiched” in between two other letters (e.g., οις, –αις). So, the “L.I.D.” acronym has an “I” in it, and the endings also all have an “I” in them in the form of an iota. (Note: 3rd Declension L.I.D. plurals have σι as their shared cases’ ending.)

It’s also noteworthy that Neuter nouns (pronouns, adjectives) always repeat their nominative endings in the accusative case (singular and plural, respectively).

There are various types of Greek nouns declined in the 3rd Declension, also called the “Consonant Declension.” These types derive their names based on the final letter(s) of their respective stems. Stems in this declension are not readily identifiable by referring to their Nominative singular (lexical) forms, but rather (usually) from their Genitive singular forms. It is helpful, therefore, for the student to memorize the Genitive singular stems of these types of “irregular” Greek nouns. For more on this click here.

Go to: Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK.com

Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK Now Available for Purchase as a Watermarked PDF!