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In 1 Peter 1:2, why is "of blood" in the genitive?

1Pe 1:2 according to a foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied!

(GNT-V) κατα προγνωσιν θεου πατρος εν αγιασμω πνευματος εις υπακοην και ραντισμον αιματος ιησου χριστου χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη πληθυνθειη

Shouldn't it be in the accusative?

Disclaimer:

I don't speak Greek, so it is probably a poor question.

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The word αἵματος (blood) is in the genitive case due to its subordination to the preceding noun, ῥαντισμὸν (sprinkling), a relationship reasonably well represented by the English "of" (i.e "sprinkling of blood"). I'm not sure exactly why you think it should be in the accusative case, but I can imagine at least two approaches that might lead to such conclusion:

  1. This is part of a prepositional phrase headed by εἰς, which takes an accusative object.
  2. "Blood" is what is "sprinkled", i.e. the direct object.

Both are apposite considerations, so I will respond in turn:

  1. Case is determined (with some exceptions) by the syntax at the lowest level of subordination. Here a noun (αἵματος, blood) is subordinated to another noun (ῥαντισμὸν, sprinkling). Generally, such a relationship is expressed by putting the subordinated noun in the genitive case. On the other hand, the word ῥαντισμὸν (sprinkling) is indeed in the accusative case, as expected after the preposition.

  2. This is precisely why some would label this an objective genitive. The noun "sprinkling" contains a verbal idea. "Blood" is the object. However, because ῥαντισμός is in fact a noun (derived from the verb ῥαίνω = to sprinkle), it takes a genitive "object." Such is the nature of the genitive.

  • Hey Susan. Isn't "sprinkling" in the accusative case because it is the indirect object of "blood"? So that this should be understood as "a sprinkling of blood", or "a small amount (noun) of blood"? Especially since there is no definite article before "blood". I understand there are exceptions (and certainly objections), but is this not the most natural reading of this phrase? – Cannabijoy Jul 31 '16 at 8:39
  • I don't follow. "Indirect object" is terminology (generally used in English grammar) to describe a relationship with a verb; "blood" is not a verb. "Sprinkling" is in the accusative because it is the object of the preposition εἰς. I'm reasonably sure about this. – Susan Jul 31 '16 at 8:48
  • Of course, sorry. I'll try to explain what I mean. First, obedience is in the accusative, because it is a "goal" we "move towards"- εἰς. This makes sense and it's easy to understand. But ραντισμον is also the direct object of εἰς so that it reads "toward- a sprinkling: of blood". This doesn't make sense when taken literally, because we cannot move toward (the goal of) a sprinkling of blood (nor have we ever literally been sprinkled with any blood, especially Yeshua's). – Cannabijoy Jul 31 '16 at 9:50
  • But ραντισμον means "a sprinkling" because a sprinkling of blood served to "purify". Wouldn't this make "a sprinkling of blood" a metaphor for "purification (noun)", which is something we can move towards? The author of 1 Peter knew Greek very well, so it seems if he wished to present a sprinkling as a verb, he would have no problem doing so. If you'll forgive the nonsense I wrote in my last comment, I'd really appreciate if you could explain this. Thank you. – Cannabijoy Jul 31 '16 at 9:51
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    @WoundedEgo I'm not sure what "sprinkled off" means. Yes, there is such a thing as the ablatival genitive. It's the semantics of ῥαντισμός (on which, see Num 19) which preclude this in my mind. If you'd like to discuss further, please head to Biblical Hermeneutics Chat. – Susan Jul 31 '16 at 12:03

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