The following is the Latin text from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), Prologue, Chapter 1, Section 2:

2 Ut haec vocatio in toto resonaret orbe, Christus Apostolos misit, quos elegerat, illis Evangelii nuntiandi praebens mandatum: « Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes, baptizantes eos in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, docentes eos servare omnia, quaecumque mandavi vobis. Et ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi » (Mt 28,19–20).

I have translated the initial portion of that passage as follows:

So that this calling would resonate in the entire earth, Christ sent the apostles whom he had chosen, …

I am aware that there is an English translation, but it’s not absolutely accurate, and I am interested in translating the Latin text myself. Based on the following verse (Matt. 28:19–20), I can assume what the text would be understood as, but that is not what I am looking for. I’d like to understand the grammar and syntax. From my parsing on Perseus, it seems like a mish-mash of participles and gerundives (except for the words illis and Evangelii). Is that right?

1 Answer 1


Christus Apostolos misit ... illis Evangelii nuntiandi praebens mandatum

Praebens is a participle modifying Christus: "Christ sent the apostles ... giving...". All the other words you marked depend on praebens.

The dative illis is the recipient of praebens: "giving them".

The neuter past participle mandatum is used as a noun and is the object of praebens: "giving them a mandate".

The gerundive construction Evangelii nuntiandi is a genitive depending on mandatum: "the mandate to announce the Gospel".

Most literally, it would be "the mandate of the Gospel that is to be announced": a gerundive is an adjective, so it must normally modify a noun (henceforth "x"), which is why it is translated most literally as "x (that is) to be done" or "the to-be-done x". And a gerundive is passive, which is why x is literally "to be done" (and not "doing").

Incidentally, a gerund construction would be mandatum nuntiandi Evangelium, where Evangelium is in the accusative because it is the object of the gerund. That would be most literally translated as "the mandate of announcing the Gospel".

At any rate, the standard, slightly more liberal translation of similar gerund constructions and gerundive constructions alike is "the mandate to announce the Gospel".

"Christ sent out Apostles...giving them a mandate to announce the Gospel"

  • 1
    @SimplyaChristian Mandatum Evangelii is literally "the mandate of the Gospel", hence the genitive. The genitive case is often used in Latin as a generic way to conex two nouns, when no other type of conexion is warranted (such as a preposition or some other case). The genitive expresses no more than "this word belongs to that other word". The same applies to the way the preposition of is used in English.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 2:10
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    Now the gerundive is added. Because it is an adjective, it provides information about the noun (the noun that it agrees with in case, number, and gender); just as mandatum Evangelii novi would tell us that the Gospel was "new" ("the mandate of the new Gospel"), so nuntiandi informs us that the Gospel is "to be announced". It's just that a gerundive cannot be translated in one word in English, and that it often has to come after its noun in English.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 2:10
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    @SimplyaChristian You are too kind! By the way, a gerundive construction (though not other gerundives) is a type of dominant construction, like the ablative absolute. A bit more info, in this somewhat unrelated answer: latin.stackexchange.com/questions/110/…
    – Cerberus
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 2:15
  • Great answer. Out of curiosity, is it strictly correctly to say that the "gerundive is an adjective"?
    – brianpck
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 15:48
  • @brianpck Belatedly: I suppose it depends on your definition. But I would call an adjective any word that normally agrees with a substantive (pro)noun and that does not stand on its own. I find that the most thorough, principal, and useful definition. But others might use different definitions.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 1:54

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