“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.

EXAMPLES:

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”.

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