The Goths began their famous foray into the history books in the third century AD, when they launched the first attack of what would become in the eyes of contemporaries a barbarian ravaging and pillaging machine. Their first entry into the literary records comes with their attacks on the Roman empire. At the time, the most exposed province was Transylvanian Dacia; but this region was protected by the Carpathian mountains, hence attacks generally came from south of the range across the lower reaches of the Danube or through a stretch of land connecting the so-called Dacian Salient to the Roman-occupied regions of the Balkans. The first known attack was the sack of Histria at the mouth of the Danube in 238. This was followed some 10 years later by other land attacks: Marcianople, a city inland from the westernmost extent of the Black Sea, was sacked in 249 by a Gothic group led by Argaith and Guntheric; in 250 Cniva crossed the Danube at Oescus and captured Philippopolis, wintered his army, and then in 251 defeated Roman forces and killed the emperor Decius at Abrittus.
The Goths then changed tactics and led sea-borne attacks via the Black Sea, the first series coming sometime around 255-257. The first attack fell on Pityus, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, but was unsuccessful. In the next attack a year later, the 'Boranoi' -- a group possibly including the Goths -- ravaged Pityus, Trapezus, and a large part of the Pontus, the region of Asia Minor bordering the Black Sea in the southeasternmost reaches. A year later the Goths explicitly attacked the cities Apamea, Chalcedon, Nicaea, Nicomedia, Prusa, as well as the surrounding areas of Bithynia and Propontis, lying near the southwesternmost reaches of the Black Sea.
The next attacks came another 10 years later. In 268 the Goths and other tribes formed a large fleet which headed across the Black Sea to the south, unsuccessfully attacking Tomi and Marcianople, and subsequently (also unsuccessfully) Cyzicus and Byzantium. They pushed through the Dardanelles into the Aegean and dispersed in three forces: (1) composed of Heruli attacking the northern Balkans near Thessalonica -- subsequently defeated by Emperor Gallienus in 268; (2) composed of Goths and Heruli, attacking Attica -- after pushing north over land they were defeated by Claudius at Naissus in 270; (3) probably led by the Gothic chieftains Respa, Thuruar, and Veduc, and attacking Asia Minor, then Rhodes and Cyprus, then Side and Ilium and Ephesus, destroying the temple of Diana. This third group was pushed back to the Black Sea in 269. After this foray into the Mediterranean, there were no other attacks through the Dardanelles.
The Goths returned to land battles in an attack across the Danube in 270 against Anchialus and Nicopolis. This was followed by a Roman attack across Danube in 271, defeating the Gothic king Cannabaudes. The Goths attacked the Pontus again in 276-277, pushing farther inland to Galatia and Cilicia.
The impact of these waves of Gothic attacks is clearly felt in the Canonical Letter of Gregory Thaumaturgus, bishop of Neocaesarea (modern Niksar) in the Pontus region of Asia Minor. His episcopate fell during the emperor Decius's persecution of Christians, which started c. 250 AD. He may have lived until the reign of Aurelian (270-275 AD). The letter is a response to a neighboring bishop's questions concerning the conduct of Roman soldiers during and after the most recent period of Gothic raids in the Pontus (translated in Heather and Matthews, 1991):
|Canon 5||Others delude themselves by keeping the property of others which they have found, in place of their own which they have lost, in order that, since the Boranoi and Goths worked on them deeds of war, so they may become Boranoi and Goths to others. I have therefore sent my brother... [that he may] advise you whose accusations you should accept....|
|Canon 6||Concerning those who forcibly detain captives (who have escaped) from barbarians.... Send men out into the countryside, lest divine thunderbolts descend upon those who perpetrate such wickedness!|
|Canon 7||... As for those who have been enrolled among the barbarians and followed after them as prisoners, forgetting that they were men of Pontus, and Christians, and have become so thoroughly barbarised as even to put to death men of their own race by the gibbet or noose, and to point out roads and houses to the barbarians, who were ignorant of them; you must debar them even from the ranks of Hearers, until a common decision is reached about them by the assembly of saints, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.|
|Canon 8||... As for those who brought themselves to attack the houses of others, if they are convicted after accusation, let them not be fit even to be Hearers. If however they confess their own guilt and make restitution, they are to prostrate themselves among the ranks of the penitent.|
It thus seems clear that the raiding parties, though in origin homogeneous groups of Goths or other individual tribes, were soon augmented by other enterprizing -- or coerced -- individuals within the lands they attacked. The attacks themselves thus only left a transitory material calamity. More long-term problems were felt when the raids had ceased, and there arose the issues of readmitting offenders and presumed offenders into the societies to which they formerly belonged.
The following passage is Luke 4.1-13, in which Jesus is tempted by Satan. In the first verse, we find the collocation gawandida sik 'returned', encountered in several places in other readings. This phrase is more literally 'brought himself back'. Though Gothic has a functioning morphological mediopassive which might, on Indo-European historical grounds, serve to connote exactly the meaning reached here, Gothic is already very close to other Germanic languages in the frequent use of such periphrastic reflexive collocations to render transitive verbs intransitive.
In Luke 4.3 we find a nominative form sunáus instead of the proper nominative sunus 'son'; a similar form diabuláus replaces the proper nominative diabulus in Luke 4.5. It is likely that, shortly after the time of Wulfila (if not before), the diphthong áu was monophthongized and subsequently indistinguishable from u, leading to occasional scribal confusion. Similar phonetically derived scribal confusion occurs in Luke 4.4: we find the forms hláib and libáid, which do not show the expected devoicing of final -b and -d to -f and -þ, respectively.
Note also the construction in Luke 4.3: qiþ þamma stáina ei waírþái hláibs 'command this stone that it be made bread'. This is an example of the particle ei used to introduce an indirect command. The particle ei was originally a general relative marker, setting off an entire phrase as dependent on surrounding material. Only later did this particle become attached to demonstrative pronouns to form relative pronouns, such as saei. Some of these subsequently became subordinate conjunctions, e.g. þatei. Gothic may also use prepositional constructions for subordinate clauses, such as Luke 4.10: du gafastan '(in order) to support' shows the frequent use in Gothic of the preposition du with the infinitive in purpose constructions.
The phrase in Luke 4.7, in andwaírþja meinamma 'in my presence', translates the Greek enōpion emou, which is not explicit in the King James Version. The English phrase 'Get thee behind me, Satan' in Luke 4.8 does not appear in the Gothic, an indication that the Gothic translation was made from a different manuscript than the King James Version.
4:1 - Iþ Iesus, ahmins weihis fulls, gawandida sik fram Iaurdanau jah tauhans was in ahmin in auþidai
2 - dage fidwor tiguns, fraisans fram diabulau. jah ni matida waiht in dagam jainaim, jah at ustauhanaim þaim dagam, biþe gredags warþ.
3 - jah qaþ du imma diabulus: jabai sunaus sijais gudis, qiþ þamma staina ei wairþai hlaibs.
4 - jah andhof Iesus wiþra ina qiþands: gamelid ist þatei ni bi hlaib ainana libaid manna, ak bi all waurde gudis.
5 - jah ustiuhands ina diabulaus ana fairguni hauhata, ataugida imma allans þiudinassuns þis midjungardis in stika melis.
6 - jah qaþ du imma sa diabulus: þus giba þata waldufni þize allata jah wulþu ize, unte mis atgiban ist, jah þisƕammeh þei wiljau, giba þata.
7 - þu nu jabai inweitis mik in andwairþja meinamma, wairþiþ þein all.
8 - jah andhafjands imma Iesus qaþ: gamelid ist, fraujan guþ þeinana inweitais jah imma ainamma fullafahjais.
9 - þaþroh gatauh ina in Iairusalem jah gasatida ina ana giblin alhs jah qaþ du imma: jabai sunus sijais gudis, wairp þuk þaþro dalaþ;
10 - gamelid ist auk þatei aggilum seinaim anabiudiþ bi þuk du gafastan þuk,
11 - jah þatei ana handum þuk ufhaband, ei ƕan ni gastagqjais bi staina fotu þeinana.
12 - jah andhafjands qaþ imma Iesus þatei qiþan ist: ni fraisais fraujan guþ þeinana.
13 - jah ustiuhands all fraistobnjo diabulus, afstoþ fairra imma und mel.
4:1 Iþ Iesus, ahmins weihis fulls, gawandida sik fram Iaurdanau jah tauhans was in ahmin in auþidai 2 dage fidwor tiguns, fraisans fram diabulau. jah ni matida waiht in dagam jainaim, jah at ustauhanaim þaim dagam, biþe gredags warþ. 3 jah qaþ du imma diabulus: jabai sunaus sijais gudis, qiþ þamma staina ei wairþai hlaibs. 4 jah andhof Iesus wiþra ina qiþands: gamelid ist þatei ni bi hlaib ainana libaid manna, ak bi all waurde gudis.
5 jah ustiuhands ina diabulaus ana fairguni hauhata, ataugida imma allans þiudinassuns þis midjungardis in stika melis. 6 jah qaþ du imma sa diabulus: þus giba þata waldufni þize allata jah wulþu ize, unte mis atgiban ist, jah þisƕammeh þei wiljau, giba þata. 7 þu nu jabai inweitis mik in andwairþja meinamma, wairþiþ þein all. 8 jah andhafjands imma Iesus qaþ: gamelid ist, fraujan guþ þeinana inweitais jah imma ainamma fullafahjais.
9 þaþroh gatauh ina in Iairusalem jah gasatida ina ana giblin alhs jah qaþ du imma: jabai sunus sijais gudis, wairp þuk þaþro dalaþ; 10 gamelid ist auk þatei aggilum seinaim anabiudiþ bi þuk du gafastan þuk, 11 jah þatei ana handum þuk ufhaband, ei ƕan ni gastagqjais bi staina fotu þeinana. 12 jah andhafjands qaþ imma Iesus þatei qiþan ist: ni fraisais fraujan guþ þeinana.
13 jah ustiuhands all fraistobnjo diabulus, afstoþ fairra imma und mel.
From the King James version:
4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. 3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. 4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: 10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: 11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
The weak declension of nouns is nothing more than n-stem nominal formation. In principle it is no different from the formation of r-stems or nd-stems: the affix -Vn- intercedes between nominal root and endings, where V is some vowel. Just as brōþar 'brother' is inherently an r-stem noun (employing no other formations), likewise weak nouns are inherently weak, i.e. only n-stem. While adjectives may employ strong or weak declension (see Sections 13 and 17) according to contextual demands, a given noun by contrast employs only one declension at all times: a weak noun always declines weak, a strong noun always strong.
The an/jan/wan-stem nouns are generally masculine or neuter. Nouns with the j- or w-augment take the same endings as those without. The nouns atta 'father', arbja 'heir', and gawaúrstwa 'fellow-worker' -- respectively an-, jan-, and wan-stems -- serve to illustrate the masculine forms. The nouns haírtō 'heart', áugō 'eye', and sigljō 'seal' -- respectively an-, an-, and jan-stems -- serve to illustrate the neuter forms.
Note that the dative plural is built by analogy to a-stem nouns, without the intervening Vn-affix. The nouns aba (masc.) 'man, husband'; aúhsa (masc.) 'ox'; namō (neut.) 'name'; and watō (neut.) 'water' have different forms in the plural. These are boldfaced in the chart below. The masculine noun manna 'man' generalized the zero-grade of the n-stem formation (-n- rather than -Vn-), yielding a peculiar declension.
|N Pl.||abans||aúhsans||mans, mannans||namna||watōna|
For the zero-grade forms of manna, compare Latin declension: nom. sg. carō 'flesh' with acc. carnem, as opposed to nom. sg. homō 'man' with acc. hominem.
The ōn/jōn/wōn-stem nouns are generally feminine. Nouns with the j- or w-augment take the same endings as those without. The nouns tuggō 'tongue', arbjō 'heiress', and ūhtwō 'early morning' -- respectively ōn-, jōn-, and wōn-stems -- serve to illustrate the forms.
The vowel ō has generalized throughout the declension, so that the dative, though characteristically lacking any sign of the n-stem, still maintains the vowel.
The īn-stem nouns (recall [ī] is spelled ei in Gothic) are generally feminine. These nouns derive for the most part from adjectives, forming the associated abstract noun. The nouns managei 'multitude', áiþei 'mother', and frōdei 'understanding' serve to illustrate the forms.
The formation is similar to the declension of ōn-stems. The vowel ī has generalized throughout the declension, so that the dative maintains the vowel while losing the n.
Adjectives decline according to weak or strong paradigms based on the requirements of context (cf. Section 13 on strong adjective declension). The choice is one of specificity: Gothic employs weak adjective forms to modify a definite noun, and strong forms to modify an indefinite noun. For example, ahma sa weiha 'the holy ghost' and þái ana aírþái þizái gōdōn saianans 'they that are sown on the good ground' (Mark 4.20). For comparison, weihs ahma would be 'a holy spirit', ana gōdái aírþái 'on (some) good ground', saianái 'sown'. Weak endings are generally used for nominalized adjectives: unkarjans 'careless (ones)'. Compare weihs 'holy' (strong) to weiha 'priest' (weak), literally '(the) holy one'. From a morphological point of view, weak adjective endings are simply n-stem endings. In this way, their use for definite reference parallels proper names in Latin, e.g. catus 'sly' vs. Catō (G. Catōnis) 'the Sly One', and in Greek, e.g. platús 'broad' vs. Plátōn 'the Broad (Shouldered) One'.
As mentioned above, the weak declension of adjectives is actually simply n-stem declension. The weak masculine endings of a-stem adjectives exactly parallel those of the an-stem noun atta, and the neuter a-stem weak endings those of the an-stem haírtō (Section 16.1); the feminine weak endings of a-stem adjectives parallel those of the ōn-stem noun tuggō (Section 16.2). Again the adjective blinds 'blind' illustrates the declension.
The ja-stem adjectives decline analogously, the masculine forms following the jan-stem noun arbja, the neuter following sigljō, the feminine following arbjō. The distinctions of Group (1) and Group (2) ja-stems do not play a role in weak declension. Likewise, i-stem and u-stem adjectives follow the same weak declension as ja-stems, exhibiting the same j-augment in all forms. The adjectives niujis 'new' and wilþeis 'wild' illustrate the weak declension of ja-stems; hráins 'clean' illustrates the i-stems; hardus 'hard' illustrates the u-stems. The forms are as follows.
|Masculine||ja-Stem (1)||ja-Stem (2)||i-Stem||u-Stem|
The wa-stem adjectives maintain the w-augment. Few weak forms are extant. The adjective triggws 'true' exhibits only the weak N sg. triggwa and D sg. triggwin. The wa-stem adjectives lasiws 'weak', *qius 'alive', *fáus 'little', *usskáus 'vigilant' show no weak forms.
The comparative of adjectives is formed by addition of the suffix -iz- or -ōz-. The superlative is derived by addition of the suffix -st- or -ōst-. Consider the following examples.
As with the positive degree, the superlative degree declines either strong or weak according to the requirements of context. The superlative, however, does not take the alternate pronominal ending -ata in the neuter singular nominative or accusative. The comparative, by contrast, only assumes weak adjectival endings, regardless of context. The only difference between comparative endings and general weak adjectival endings occurs in the feminine: the feminine declines like the īn-stem managei, rather than tuggō. The adjective jūhiza 'younger', from juggs 'young', serves to illustrate comparative declension.
Several adjectives are members of suppletive systems, whereby the positive forms derive from a base different than that of the comparative and superlative. A few of the most common such adjectives appear below.
The superlative sinista generally translates Greek presbúteros 'elder': þái sinistans 'the elders'.
Intensive adjectives are formed by addition of the ending -(t)uma. These formations inflect like comparatives, but they generally do not mark any specific comparison. These have a superlative formed by adding -(t)umist-. Consider the following examples.
Compare af-tuma to Lat. op-timus, as well as in-timus and Sanskrit án-tamas. Likewise compare the formation of ordinals such as Lat. septimus, Sanskrit saptamás.
The dative case is used in conjunction with a comparative to denote the standard of reference or comparison, as denoted by the Modern English 'than'. For example, swinþō mis 'mightier than me'.
As with the other Germanic languages, Gothic has no independent pronoun which functions specifically as a relative. The most prominent relative marker is the particle ei, which functions analogously to Old Norse es (later er) or sem (or even the conjunction at 'that') and to Old English þe. These particles are self-standing markers introducing subordinate clauses and as such have no inherent meaning of their own. In Gothic the relative use of the particle ei is restricted to a few phrases involving temporal or modal expressions. For example, sijáis þahands jah ni magands rodjan und þana dag ei waírþái þata 'thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that this should happen' (Luke 1.20); fram þamma daga ei anabáuþ mis 'from the time that it befell me' (Nehemiah 5.14); fram þamma daga ei háusidēdum 'since the day we heard it' (Colossians 1.9); aþþan þamma háidáu ei Jannis jah Mambrēs andstōþun Mōsēza 'Now in the manner in which Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses' (2 Timothy 3.8).
The particle ei occurs most frequently in a relativizing role conjoined to the demonstrative pronoun sa, þata, sō 'this, that, the'. This yields a relative pronoun for the third person. The declension is as follows.
|N Sg.||saei (izei)||þatei||sōei (sei)|
|N Pl.||þáiei (izei)||þōei||þōzei|
When the particle ei is suffixed, a preceding weakly stressed a is lost, and s becomes z. The nominative singular masculine is of the third person pronoun also forms a relative in this manner: izei. This is occasionally found instead of the corresponding relative saei. It also occurs in the role of the nominative masculine plural instead of þáiei. The nominative singular feminine si of the third person pronoun similarly forms a relative si + ei > sei.
The first and second person pronouns form relatives in the same fashion. The particle ei is suffixed to the appropriate form of the pronoun: ikei 'I who'; þuei 'thou who'; þukei 'thee whom'; þuzei 'to thee whom'; juzei 'ye who'; izwizei 'to you whom'.
Like Modern English, but unlike Old English and Old Norse, the relative pronoun saei, þatei, sōei derives its case from its function in the relative clause. In the Modern English sentence 'and a man came whose name was Jairus', the relative whose derives its case (genitive) from its function in the clause 'whose name was Jairus', not from the clause in which its antecedent man appears (otherwise it would be the nominative who, agreeing with man). By contrast, Old Norse favors a construction in which the demonstrative agrees with the antecedent in the main clause: hann sendi hingat til lands prest þann es hét Þangbrandr 'he sent there to the land a priest who was called Thangbrand'. The phrase þann es exactly parallels the formation of the relative pronoun in Gothic, being the union of the demonstrative pronoun followed by the relative particle (es in ON, ei in Gothic). But in the Old Norse phrase, þann is accusative, modifying the direct object of the main clause, even though the antecedent of þann subsequently becomes the subject of the relative clause. The same generally occurs in Old English with the particle |e. Gothic uses the relative saei, þatei, sōei in the fashion of Modern English. For example, jah sái qam waír þizei namō Iaeirus 'And a man came whose name (was) Jairus' (Luke 8.41). The relative þizei takes its genitive case from its function in the relative clause, not from the main clause.
The interrogative pronoun ƕas, ƕa, ƕō 'who?, what?' occurs only in the singular. The forms are as follows.
The neuter instrumental form ƕē occurs with the meaning 'with what, wherewith, how'. The plural is preserved in the form ƕanzuh: insandida ins twans ƕanzuh 'he sent them forth two and two'.
The interrogative adjective ƕaþar 'which (of two)' occurs only in the nominative singular masculine and neuter. This contrasts with ƕarjis 'which (of more than two)', which declines like midjis (cf. Section 13.1), though the neuter nominative singular always ends in -ata. The interrogative adjectives ƕileiks 'what sort of' and *ƕēláuþs (fem. ƕēláuda) 'how great' follow the declension of blinds (cf. Section 13.1), as do their respective correlatives swaleiks 'such' and swaláuþs (fem. swaláuda) 'so great'.
The enclitic particle -u is often appended to the first word of an interrogative statement. For example, niu 'not?'; skuldu ist 'is it lawful?'; abu þus silbin 'of thyself?'
Simple indefinites, formed by suffixing the particle -hun to forms of ƕas 'who', manna 'man', and áins 'one', occur only in negated constructions. See Section 21.2 on Negatives.
A general indefinite, akin to Modern English 'whosoever, whoever', is formed by the combinations ƕazuh saei, saƕazuh saei, and saƕazuh izei. These occur only in the nominative singular masculine. The neuter counterpart, þataƕah þei 'whatsoever', occurs only in the accusative singular. Indefinites of similar meaning are formed by prefixing þis (genitive of þata) to forms of ƕazuh. These are followed by the relative saei, or by þei. The attested forms are as follows.
|þisƕazuh saei 'whosoever'||Masculine||Neuter||Feminine|
|N Sg.||þisƕazuh saei||þisƕah þei (þatei)|
|A||þisƕanōh saei||þisƕah þei (þatei)|
|D||þisƕammēh saei||þisƕammēh þei|
The form þatei occasionally replaces þei in the neuter. No feminine forms occur.
áin- 'one, anyone, a certain one' always declines according to the strong declension of blinds (Section 13.1), e.g. masc. N sg. áins, pl. áinái; neut. N sg. áin(ata), pl. áina; fem. N sg. áina, pl. áinōs. The plural forms are used in the sense 'only, alone'. Note correlated structures: áins... jah áins 'the one... and the other'.
all- 'all, every, whole' always declines according to the strong declension of blinds, e.g. masc. N sg. alls, pl. allái; neut. N sg. all(ata), pl. alla; fem. N sg. alla, pl. allōs.
anþar- 'second, other' always declines according to the strong declension of blinds, though the neuter N sg. never takes the pronominal ending -ata. For example, masc. N sg. anþar (cf. Section 6.2.2), pl. anþarái; neut. N sg. anþar, pl. anþara; fem. N sg. anþara, pl. anþarō.
sum- 'some one, a certain one' always declines according to the strong declension of blinds, e.g. masc. N sg. sums, pl. sumái; neut. N sg. sum(ata), pl. suma; fem. N sg. suma, pl. sumōs. Forms of this pronoun are often repeated in correlated structures: sums... sums 'the one... the other'. The particle -uh is frequently suffixed to the second member of such constructions, and occasionally to both members: sumái(h)... sumáih 'some... and others' (masc. nom. pl.).
The present participle adds the suffix -nd- to the present stem (yielding a stem which resembles the 3rd person plural, present indicative active). Adjectival endings are then added to the resulting stem. The present participle declines exclusively as a weak adjective, with the sole exception of the masculine nominative singular, which has an alternate strong ending. The feminine forms follow the declension of īn-stem nouns like managei, rather than ōn-stems. The verb niman 'take' has present participle stem nimand-. The declension is as follows.
|N Sg.||nimanda, nimands||nimandō||nimandei|
The present participle denotes an action ongoing at the time of the main verb. The present participle generally takes its object in the same case as the finite forms of the participle, though frequently the object is omitted. For example, þái waúrd háusjandans 'those hearing the word' (Mark 4.18); Sa saijands waúrd saijiþ 'The one sowing sows the word', equivalent to 'The sower sows the word' (Mark 4.14).
Some nouns, such as the nd-stem fijands 'enemy', were originally participles but have subsequently become frozen in a substantive role. These infrequently take objects in the accusative, instead generally employing the genitive. Compare the following contructions: þans fijands galgins Xristáus 'the enemies of the cross of Christ' (Philippians 3.18) vs. þáim fijandam izwis 'to those hating you' (Luke 6.27). Also note the following passage: aþþan ik qiþa izwis: frijōþ fijands izwarans, þiuþjáiþ þans wrikandans izwis, wáila táujáiþ þáim hatjandam izwis, jah bidjáiþ bi þans usþriutandans izwis 'But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those abusing you' (Matthew 5.44).
Adjectives agree with the nouns they modify in gender, case, and number. But the adjective at times agrees with the natural gender of the referent, rather than with the gender of the noun representing it. Consider the following example, where the feminine noun handugei 'wisdom' is modified by a neuter adjective agreeing with the genderless concept represented by handugei: ei kanniþ wēsi handugei guþs 'that the wisdom of God be known'. Note also the following, where neuter áinhun (leikē) 'any (of bodies)' is modified by a masculine singular adjective taking its gender from the person or man whom the circumlocution represents: ni waírþiþ garaíhts áinhun leikē 'no man becomes just'.
When a singular noun denotes a collection of individual members, the adjective may take its number and gender according to the individuals. For example, the feminine singular managei 'multitude, people' is generally modified by adjectives in the masculine plural: jah was managei beidandans Zakariins 'and the people were waiting for Zacharias'. This likewise occurs with the noun hiuhma 'crowd': jah alls hiuhma was manageins beidandans 'and the whole crowd of people was waiting'.
Unlike many of the Indo-European languages, but like e.g. Old Norse, an adjective modifying both masculine and feminine beings takes a neuter plural form. For example, wēsunuh þan garaíhta ba andwaírþja guþs 'they were both righteous before God', where the referents are Zacharias and Elizabeth.
Adjectives take either strong or weak endings. Strong adjective forms modify indefinite nouns. Consider the following examples: stibnái mikilái 'in a loud voice'; gaguds ragineis 'a good counselor'; wastjái ƕeitái 'in a white cloth'. Predicate adjectives regularly take strong endings: goþ þus ist hamfamma in libáin galeiþan 'it is better for thee to enter into life maimed'. All cardinal numerals only decline strong, as well as the ordinal anþar 'second'; likewise the possessive adjectives like meins 'my'; pronominal adjectives like sums 'some', alls 'all', jáins 'that', swaleiks 'such'; and other adjectives like fulls 'full', ganōhs 'enough', halbs 'half', midjis 'middle'.
Weak adjective forms modify definite nouns, and therefore generally accompany the definite article. For example, stiur þana alidan 'the fattened calf'; (áina) anabusnē þizō minnistōnō '(one) of the smallest commandments'; wastja þō frumistōn 'the best garment'; ni mag bagms þiuþeigs akrana ubila gatáujan 'a good tree cannot bear evil fruits'. A weak adjective generally accompanies a noun in the vocative: atta weiha 'holy father!'; o unfrodans Galateis 'O foolish Galatians'. All ordinal numerals beside anþar exhibit only weak declension. The same is true for comparatives, as well as intensives ending in -ma, e.g. aftuma 'latter'. The present participle takes weak endings, except for the alternate strong ending in the masculine nominative singular. The adjectives sama 'same' and silba 'self' always take weak endings.