The Wikipedia article for Tora in German goes like this:

Die Tora [...] ist der erste Teil des Tanach, der hebräischen Bibel.

It seemed to me that the highlighted article is part of an explanatory phrase, an apposition:

The Torah is the first part of Tanach, the Hebrew Bible.

not: The Torah is the first part of Tanach, of the Hebrew Bible.

And as such, should be in nominative, not again in genitive. Why is it? Is it wrong to use nominative again?

  • 2
    I'm not a grammar expert,just a native speaker, and your sentence sounds fine to me. The canoo.net article on apposition (in German) states "Das Nomen der Apposition und das Nomen, das durch die Apposition näher bestimmt wird, stehen meistens im gleichen Kasus."
    – Hulk
    Apr 8 '15 at 5:11
  • It just sounded so counterintuitive to me... it's not wrong, but "alternative" in my native language (Portuguese). One shouldn't presume anything, anyway. :-)
    – Fred
    Apr 8 '15 at 5:26
  • @Fred Indeed, for Romance languages it doesn't make sense. But it's a nice feature once you get used to it :)
    – c.p.
    Apr 8 '15 at 5:29

Jein. Indeed one of your assumptions is right: it's an apposition. Second, appositions inherit the grammatical case, in this example genitive, of the noun they describe.

Hence, your sentence is correct. However, according to this article, it might in absence of an article for hebräische Bibel, stand in nominative (the writing style is questionable, though).

Die Tora [...] ist der erste Teil des Tanach, hebräische Bibel.
(theoretically possible, stylistically bad)

Another example:

Er kennt ziemlich genau die Geschichte Schuberts, des großen Komponisten.
Hans gibt Jonas, dem Sohn Petras, einen Apfel.

  • 2
    Might I add that […] des Tanach, hebräische Bibel sounds so incredibly wrong to me that I would correct it, if I heard it. I'm not sure I would allow an apposition without an article anywhere. Maybe unless the describing word is a name (der hebräischen Bibel, Tanach) but probably even then. I get the same feeling with Wikipedia's 'official' example, which just sounds wrong if it's lacking an article.
    – Jan
    Apr 8 '15 at 7:15
  • 2
    "the writing style is questionable" - indeed. If you put "hebräische Bibel" in parentheses, this can work ("Die Tora [...] ist der erste Teil des Tanach (hebräische Bibel)."); it's not a very elaborate, but a short and still acceptable way of writing. With a comma, however, it just seems either wrong, or like a very informal style of writing that directly replicates the way spoken language (i.e. possibly without forming complete sentences). Apr 8 '15 at 7:23
  • 1
    Unfortunately, what one can observe (especially from TV journalist texts) seems to indicate a "rule" that any apposition that does not immediately follow a short subject at the beginning of the sentence "should" use Dativ (which would produce "Er kennt ziemlich genau die Geschichte Schuberts, dem großen Komponisten" - shudder) Apr 8 '15 at 21:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.