Re: Luke 9:58

Nikos Sarantakos (
Sat, 07 Sep 96 13:27:56 PDT

Dear friend

Thank you for your helpful message.

> At 9:51 PM -0500 9/4/96, Nikos Sarantakos wrote:
> >Dear all,
> >
> >Luke 9:58 concludes:
> >
> >This POU THN KEFALHN KLINHi is the subject of my query: I would
> >expect it to be rather THN KEFALHN KLINAI, with an infinitive instead
> >of a subjunctive. Indeed, Modern Greek, where this has become a
> >proverbial phrase, uses the infinitive: DEN EXEI POU THN KEFALHN
> >
> >Not having studied NT Greek, I wonder whether this use of the
> >subjunctive is a particularity, whether there are more examples in
> >the NT -or perhaps it is a commonplace phenomenon and I should have
> >known better?
> Ah, but in general, doesn't Modern Greek use the subjunctive FOR the
> infinitive? e.g. QA DW ("I shall see"; lit. "I want to see") <-- Koine

Yes, but it was the absence of hINA in Luke9:58 that misled me. Not seeing
hINA, I thought there should be an infinitive. I was wrong.

I am interested in ModGk expressions and idioms that are derived from NT or
Classical Greek. New Testament is a very rich source of ModGk idioms, since
it was, for centuries, the only text of a lofty character that
was accessible to all people, even illiterate, through the church.
In some cases, the said phrases were already idioms in NT-Greek, as e.g.
DOTE TOPON THi ORGHi, but usually the "idiomatisation" of the phrase
appears to have occurred later.

Not surprisingly, there are many occasions of mis-interpretations. In the
specific case of POU THN KEFALHN KLINHi, the great majority of users say,
like myself, ... KLINAI, because they think it is the correct ancient form.
Those who know the citation use KLINHi, while loyal church-goers that can
hardly read may misinterpret it in various admirable ways, e.g. DEN EXEI


Nikos Sarantakos

> The POU clause is interesting; I guess I've never thought about it
> it doesn't seem problematic. Others should beble to say whether it is
> commonplace in the NT and whether there are other examples; offhand I
> doubt it. Classical Attic would have an indicative for an indirect
> in primary sequence: OUX EXEI hOPOU THN KEFALHN KLINEI--but in fact, this
> is more deliberative or dependent upon a deliberative construction:
> is he to lay his head?" "He does not have (a place) where he may lay his
> head." So it's not really a straight indirect question in standard Greek.
> Ironically, however, the Latin indirect question does appear to be
> constructed on the basis of the deliberative subjunctive: NON HABET UBI
> CAPUT DEPONAT. Which raises an interesting (to me, at least) question:
> there have, I know, been investigations of Latin vocabulary in the GNT,
> in Mark's gospel; does anyone know whether there's been a study of
> _Latinisms_ in Koine Greek?
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University
> One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
> (314) 935-4018
> OR
> WWW: