Re: A non-Greek wades in over his head

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Mar 08 1997 - 06:44:56 EST

At 5:02 AM -0500 3/8/97, Martin A. Childs wrote:
> I do not understand the morphology sufficiently to determine the
>distinction between the "legete" form of Strong's <3004> and the "legeis"
>They both appear to be capable of expressing indicative mood. Yet, the
>former is also capable of being either indicative or imperative.
> For examples of the former see: John 13:13 and Acts 13:15. For the
>latter, I am looking specifically at Luke 23:3. I cannot find a place
>where the latter form is tagged as being imperative.

Your information is correct: LEGEIS is 2 sg. indicative; LEGETE is 2 pl.
indicative OR imperative (only the context can determine clearly which--and
sometimes even the context is insufficiently clear and the reader must make
an intelligent judgment.

> The OnLine Bible lexicon says that the word in Luke 23:3 is in the
>indicative mood, but the context pretty clearly seems to require the
>imperative to me. Is the form of the word here capable of being either
>mood like the "legete"
>form or must it be read as merely indicative?

No, Luke 23:3 quite clearly reads SU LEGEIS, which is indicative, not
imperative. The only question raised by interpreters is whether it is to be
understood as a declarative statement ("You are saying [so]") or a question
("Are you saying [so]?). Either way of understanding it is possible, but
the form in the text is NOT an imperative.

Interpreters have puzzled over this for a long time. Many understand it to
mean that Jesus says to the High Priest, in effect: "That's what YOU are
claiming!" or "Those are YOUR words!" You'll find something like that in
most translations, but there remains the question: was Jesus INTENDING to
be cryptic here? The form of the Greek text is insufficient to answer that

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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