Issue with NT Greek - "accent marks"?


I read this in Fr. de la Potterie’s wonderful work, concerning an exegesis of Lk 1:28, “Hail, full of grace,…” concerning the verb χαριτόω. He is developing here an exegesis of kécharitôménê. He wrote:
The verbs in “óô” are causative; they indicate an action which effects something in the object. Thus, for example, “leukóô,” to whiten; “doulóô,” to reduce to slavery , to enslave; “eleutheróô,” to render free, to free. These verbs, then, effect a change of something in the person or the thing affected.

I’m trying to apply this exegesis to a study of justification in Scripture (non-Catholics are involved), and the Greek for it in James 2:21-26. According to Strong’s interlinear, the word is “δικαιόω - dikaioō” (G5487 (Strong)). My question concerns the accent marks (?) in Strong’s - are they different, or actually equivalent to, the marks in de la Potterie for the “causitive” ending “óô”?

That is, is “óô” the same as “oō”? IOW, is “δικαιόω - dikaioō” an “óô” ending which would make δικαιόω a “causative” verb, which “effects a change of something in the person or the thing affected”?

If so, I could say that the verb δικαιόω - dikaioō - effects a change in the object: the person is made righteous, or just; the person becomes righteous, or just. The person is not merely “accounted” or “titled” or “declared to be as” righteous, but is righteous.

ref: From Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, Ignace de la Potterie, SJ. Alba House, New York 1992. p. 17-20


Short ‘o’ answer yes omicron. Long ‘o’ answer yes omega.


Thank you for your response. Can you say more?

Is “óô” the same as “oō”? The difference is (merely) what then? Different conventions in typesetting? Or what?

“óô” is from Fr. de la Potterie, whereas

“oō” is from Strong’s commentary/translations,

  • so I can imagine that the difference is due to merely limitations in typesetting or printing. Do you know why the difference?


Yes, it is merely a difference in typesetting/printing, due to the choices of the individual authors/editors/printers.


We shouldn’t be exegeting (?) based on accent marks. The accent marks are an effort to transliterate the Greek text into Latin characters.

To really make this clear, we need to look at the Greek letters themselves, and here, we’re dealing with two distinct letters, the omicron and the omega. We are dealing with


rather than accented o’s.


That’s what I was hoping - but I know so little of Greek, that I wanted to hear from Catholics who do know Greek. This is for a non-Catholic (read “anti-Catholic”) evangelical audience.

Do you know of any other Scriptural examples of verbs having that “óô” - omicron-omega - ending, and therefore causative meaning?

Thanks for your input.


Accent marks aren’t merely a transliteration into Latin characters. Now, the original koine greek was written in all caps, with no spaces, and no accents. However, quite early on capitalization, spaces, and accents appeared in the language. You had up accents, down accents, and bendy accents (not the official terms!) These indicated various tonal pitches in speaking. Nowadays we don’t use the tonal changes, and all accents have the same affect pronunciation-wise. Still, the choice of accent in the written greek is very important, and moving the accents can change the word.

I’m not familiar with the rules of writing the greek in Latin, characters though. Omicron is a short vowel. Omega is long. But the actual greek itself gets more complicated, though.


I did some googling today on the string (“koine greek verbs” causative -oo); got lots of hits, searched though a page of them, and found nothing. I also searched my two textbooks (William LaSor’s Handbook of New Testament Greek and Voetz’s Fundamental Greek Grammar) and found nothing.

I did find this in Thayer’s Greek - English Lexicon of the New Testament under the entry for dikaio’w (trying to the two o’s without actually using Greek letters). This is the first meaning given, and the bolding-emphasis is mine

  1. prop. (acc. to the analogy of other verbs ending in -o’w, as tuflo’w, doulo’w) to make di’kaios, to render righteous or such as he ought to be; (Vulg. justifico); but this meaning is extremely rare, if not altogether doubtful . . .

(The entry then goes on to give an example from Ps. 73:13, where the LXX-ers used dikaio’w to translate a Hebrew verb that means “to cleanse.”)

I think that the takeaway here is that while there are Greek -o’w verbs that have a causative meaning (leiko’w, “to make white”; doulo’w, “to make [someone] a slave”; tuflo’w, “to make blind”), the fact that a verb has the -o’w ending does not necessarily give it a causative meaning. I trust Thayer’s when it says that the #1 meaning is likely “altogether doubtful.” The #2 meaning is “to show, exhibit, evince one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be,” and this makes more sense within the context of a Catholic interpretation.


Hello Dave, thank you for your searching, and comments. I searched quite a bit, and did finally come upon this very helpful site - a blog essay with reader comments back and forth. If you’re interested in the subject matter, I think you’ll find it helpful too:δικαιόω-a-morphological-lexical-and-historical-analysis/


Thanks :thumbsup:

closed #11

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