Adjectives (More In-depth)
A Greek adjective can have one of two major
relationships to the noun (or substantive)
that it is modifying. It can be either in the attributive position or the predicate
position. Following is an explanation of these two positions of Greek adjectives.
Attributive Position of Greek Adjectives
If an adjective is in the attributive position, it
is not making the central statement or thought in the sentence
concerning the noun it is modifying. It is only ascribing an
attribute or quality to the noun, while the predicate
part of the sentence is making the grammatically more fundamental statement about the
noun. The Attributive and Predicate positions of the adjective are determined by word
order, especially in relation to the definite article.
The Ascriptive Use of the Attribute Adjective: For example Luke 6:45 says, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good." Here the order of the Greek words is 'article', 'adjective', 'noun'.
The Restrictive Use of the Attribute Adjective: For example John 10:11 Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd". In Greek, the word order is "I am the shepherd the good", that is 'article', 'noun', 'article', 'adjective'. This is the second way the attributive adjective can be formed. The noun 'shepherd' is being modified by the adjective 'good'. Notice that 'good' still comes after the second definite article which modifies this noun. This position helps to emphasis the quality of "good" as if to say that not all shepherds are good. It could be translated, "I am the shepherd, that is, the good one (as opposed to the others who are not good)".
Predicate Position of Greek Adjectives
In the predicate position of the adjective, the
adjective itself is actually making the statement about the noun
(i.e. it is in the predicate part of the sentence or clause). The noun and the adjective could by
themselves be the complete simple sentence. (But note that the adjective used
attributively could not form a complete sentence.) When the adjective is in the
predicate position, a form of the verb "to be" may or not be explicitly present
in Greek, but will always be in the English translation of the phrase.
For example: Jesus said in Mark 10:18, "No one is good except One,
that is, God." The phrase "No one is good" is only two words in Greek. The
first word means 'no one' and the second word means 'good'. Thus there is a noun and an adjective with
no intervening definite article. This is the predicate position of the adjective (since
there is no definite article before the adjective). In translation, you must insert the
appropriate form of the word "to be" to capture the sense of the predicate
position. Therefore these two words by themselves could form a complete simple sentence in
The adjective can also be used alone (with or without the article) as a noun (substantive). In this situation, if the adjective is masculine, it is referring to "men" (or "man" - singular), "people", or "ones". If the adjective is feminine, it is referring to "women." And if the adjective is neuter, it is referring to a "class" or "things" .
For example, the neuter, plural adjective for
"living" would mean "the living" as opposed to "the dead."
An example from Galatians 1:1 is "...God the Father, who raised Him (Christ) from
among the dead." The word 'dead' is a genitive,
plural adjective (either neuter or masculine -- probably neuter). It means "the
dead" or, possibly, "the dead ones" or "the dead men."
Some Terms Associated with Definite Articles
Created by Corey Keating at: http://www.ntgreek.org/