Dear Sir:

I am an English teacher. Another English teacher asked me about this grammar structure:  Galatians 3:10, King James Version: "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse;...."
She asked how to explain why there are 2 verbs ("are"). She wonders if there is a word missing.  I said the part "as are of the works of the law" is  modifying the subject "many," answering the question "how many?" Then the subject "many" goes with the predicate "are under the curse."  
She asked if this phrase is idiomatic with an understood word that English speakers just understand, like "as many as... they do ...."  However, adding that extra subject sounds wrong to me.
Can you think of any other way to explain that structure? Is my explanation grammatically sensible?
Thank you for your consideration and help!

--Pamela H.

 

 

Original Post

Hello, Pamela H., and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

PamelaH posted:

Another English teacher asked me about this grammar structure:  Galatians 3:10, King James Version: "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse;...."
She asked how to explain why there are 2 verbs ("are"). She wonders if there is a word missing.  I said the part "as are of the works of the law" is  modifying the subject "many," answering the question "how many?" Then the subject "many" goes with the predicate "are under the curse."  
She asked if this phrase is idiomatic with an understood word that English speakers just understand, like "as many as... they do ...."  However, adding that extra subject sounds wrong to me.
Can you think of any other way to explain that structure?
 

The sentence is idiomatic but poetic in style. "as many as" could be paraphrased as "all those who" or as "whoever" (in this case, a singular verb will be used). Then, you have:

- All those who are of the works of the law are under the curse.

- Whoever is of the works of the law is under the curse.

"many" there is a pronoun, and the second "as" functions as a relative word (I interpret "as are of the works of law" as a relative clause).

We can also find "much" in a similar structure, for example:

- As much as is allowed can be used = Everything that is allowed can be used = Whatever is allowed can be used.

PamelaH posted:

Galatians 3:10, King James Version: "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse;...." [. . . ] I said the part "as are of the works of the law" is  modifying the subject "many," answering the question "how many?" Then the subject "many" goes with the predicate "are under the curse." 

[Note: I was composing this when Gustavo answered. I think our two replies are in agreement; they make the same point in different ways.]

Hello, PamelaH, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange!

Thank you for this interesting question. I enjoy pondering historical English usage, especially that found in the King James translation of the Bible. We should bear in mind, though, that the King James translation was written over four hundred years ago, and that the language has changed in many ways since then.

I agree with how you have answered your colleague. The "as many as are of"-phrase is indeed functioning as the sentence subject, and it is headed, as you indicate, by "many." Thus, the basic sentence is "Many are under the curse." The reason there are two verbs is that the relative clause itself has a verb (also "are").

Consider the following sentence, which has the same basic structure:

(1) As many (people) as came here this morning will come here this evening.

We could imagine a restaurant manager using that sentence to inform a new employee at the restaurant, rather formally, about how many people to expect for the dinner period at the restaurant. "How many people will come here this evening?" —"As many as came here this morning."

Last edited by David, Moderator

Thank you both for confirming my thoughts. When my friend asked this question, it made me think hard, and so I thought it was a really interesting question. I really do appreciate your taking time to answer and adding similar structures.

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