In Vulgate, Matthaeus 4:23, it says "et prædicans Evangelium regni". Shouldn't it be "regno" (dative) rather than "regni" (genitive)? He was talking the gospel TO the kingdom, not the gospel OF the kingdom.

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    In most translations I know and in Catholic and many other Christian theologies, it is the Gospel/good news of (i.e., about) the Kingdom (of Heavens/of God). Are you concerned about a specific translation?
    – Rafael
    Apr 24, 2021 at 16:24

2 Answers 2


The Latin is a pretty literal translation of the Greek:

καὶ κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας

"τῆς βασιλείας" (tēs basileias) is genitive, not dative. He is preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, not preaching the Gospel to the kingdom.

This makes sense. The "kingdom" in question--as is clear from many other passages throughout the New Testament--is the "kingdom of Heaven" (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν) or (as Mark and Luke prefer to say) the "kingdom of God" (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ). It is the message, not the recipient.

A review of several English translations makes it pretty clear that this hasn't been a matter of dispute.

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    ⋯ or rather the kingdom of Heaven (regnum caelorum), which is presumably the same thing. Apr 24, 2021 at 20:41
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    @SebastianKoppehel I never noticed this difference in word choice among the three synoptic Gospels!
    – brianpck
    Apr 25, 2021 at 13:25

I am going to diverge from brianpck's answer. In my opinion the OP is correct, or at least partially correct. The translation in the vulgate is WRONG. Basically Jerome got it wrong when he translated it 1600 years ago.

Even though βασιλείας is indeed genitive, it is a genitive of place, not a genitive of possession. The Greek genitive is much different than the Latin genitive and can function as both an ablative and also in adverbial senses. In Matthaeus 4:23, the genitive is being used to indicate WHERE the action is taking place. So, in English it would be "... preaching the Good News in the kingdom ...". In Latin, it should have translated like this:

et prædicans Evangelium in regno

Where regno is ablative. Note that we see the same usage of the genitive in other parts of the Gospels. For example, in Luke 16:24 we have this

ἵνα βάψῃ τὸ ἄκρον τοῦ δακτύλου αὐτοῦ ὕδατος

which means "that he might dip the tip of his finger in water" where the word for water, hydratos, is in the genitive case, indicating WHERE he is dipping his finger. Note that Jerome got it right when he translated this latter passage, because he translated it as "in aqua" using a preposition with the ablative. In the passage in Matthew, note that the preposition should probably not be omitted. Sometimes, in Latin the word "in" can be omitted, but this is usually only when the place is proper noun, like Roma (in Rome) or something so big, that there is only one of them, like mare (in the sea).

More examples of the Greek genitive used to describe a place where the action is occurring:

ἦσαν ὁμοῦ Σίμων Πέτρος καὶ Θωμᾶς ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος καὶ Ναθαναὴλ ὁ ἀπὸ Κανᾶ τῆς Γαλιλαίας (John 21:2)

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    αὐτοῦ ὕδατος is a genitive of place but the αὐτοῦ construction is one of very few specific constructions where it can show up. The Greek genitive of place is very limited in its applications, and you'd have to read κηρύσσων as a verb of motion (which it isn't) for τῆς βασιλείας to be one.
    – Cairnarvon
    Apr 25, 2021 at 19:05
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    αὐτοῦ is being used as a genitive of place here, not as a (redundant) possessive. ὕδατος on its own cannot be a genitive of place. Just because the genitive had a wide range of uses in Greek doesn't mean it could be used for everything in every circumstance.
    – Cairnarvon
    Apr 25, 2021 at 21:33
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    Do you maintain that each of these English translations is wrong as well?
    – brianpck
    Apr 26, 2021 at 1:12
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    I think you make a point about the genitive of place, but you haven't proved that Jerome's reading is really wrong. There is a Kingdom of God/Heaven to be announced, actually, and there is a place already mentioned in the same sentence: "Καὶ περιῆγεν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ, διδάσκων ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν καὶ κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας"
    – Rafael
    Apr 26, 2021 at 2:00
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    I beg to disagree. The regular genitive is a perfectly valid reading of the sentence, consistent with the rest of it, the rest of the Gospel, and the other Gospels (there is no reason to suppose the text is completely unambiguous either: translations don't need to be unique). Moreover, if there is an uninterrupted, multi-century steam of scholars favoring one specific translation, there is a strong case for it to be the preferred translation. Of course, it could still be proven wrong, but you need to actually argue against it to gain acceptance
    – Rafael
    Apr 26, 2021 at 18:07

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