The Semantics and Exegetical Significance of the Object-Complement Construction in the New Testament -- By: Daniel B. Wallace

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 06:1 (Spring 1985)
Article: The Semantics and Exegetical Significance of the Object-Complement Construction in the New Testament
Author: Daniel B. Wallace


The Semantics and Exegetical Significance
of the Object-Complement Construction
in the New Testament

Daniel B. Wallace

A survey of the grammatical terminology, identification, and semantics of the object-complement construction in the Greek NT demonstrates that the treatment of this construction in the major grammars is inadequate. A rather extensive listing of NT examples of this construction supports the thesis that the object-complement construction is semantically equivalent to the subject-predicate nominative construction. Thus, any principles which apply to subject-predicate nominative constructions (e.g.,Colwells Rule) are equally applicable to object-complement constructions.

* * *

Introduction

Although some would insist that grammar is one of those elementary things which is better left behind as we press on to maturity, there are still a few die-hards who feel that not all has been said on the topic. Lars Rydbeck, for example, recently asked the question, “What happened to New Testament Greek grammar after Albert Debrunner?”1 His answer is that it “has come almost to a standstill,” one of the reasons being that “There is a prevalent but false assumption that everything in NT Greek scholarship has been done already.”2 Rydbeck goes on to suggest that one major area in NT grammar which has yet to be resolved is the nature of NT Greek.3 This, indeed,

is a critical issue; but there are others. Among them is the relation of structure to semantics. This is a problem area because most grammars are satisfied with presenting the structural phenomena of the NT in a descriptive manner (i.e., a mere tagging of structures as belonging to certain syntactical categories), while hardly raising the question of the differences in the fields of meaning that ‘synonymous’ structures can possess.4 One construction which can be profitably put through the structure-semantics grid is that of the object-complement double accusative.

Definition of Terms

Not all are agreed on which terms to use when describing this grammatical phenomenon. Thus it is appropriate to begin by defining terms.

Double Accusative

The nomenclature “double accusative” is customarily used in grammars to refer to two different kinds of constructions:5 (1) a person-thing double accusative (in which a verb takes two direct objects in the accusati...

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