Re: Infinitives as finite verbs

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Apr 09 1997 - 07:10:52 EDT

At 1:02 AM -0500 4/9/97, kdlitwak wrote:
>This arises from non-biblical Greek, Eupolemos to be specfic, but has
>applications to NT Greek perhaps. I've learned to translate the
>infinitive in various ways, such as a pure infinitive "to see", or a
>gerund "seeing" or with various prepositions as na articular
>infinitive. THe text I'm working with, however, uses virtually no
>finite verbs but only the infinitive. While I know an accusative can be
>the subject of an infinitive, I can't think of any place in the NT where
>the infinitive is used exclusively, with no finite verbs at all around.
>Is this common in other non-biblical Greek? It also seems that the
>subject of the infinitive is in the nominative several times. That's
>not supposed tobe legal as far as I've been taught. Have I missed
>something? Thanks.

You may have, Ken, but it's hard to judge without having a text to
illustrate what you are referring to. Isn't this the author of Second
Maccabees? (or is it third?). My recollection, i it's what I'm thinking of,
is that it's pretty good Greek with a lot of words I found unfamiliar.

(a) It is quite possible to get lengthy strings of indirect discourse
wherein, if the subject of the infinitive doesn't change, the only verbs
you'll get will be additional infinitives. If I remember aright the work
you're reading, it starts with a lengthy letter recounting the events
establishing the Hannukah festival, but my memory may be wrong--in that,
there was just such a string of indirect discourse, as I recall.

(b) The standard rule for indirect discourse is that when the subject of
indirect discourse is identical with the subject of the introductory verb,
it is in the nominative and any modifiers are in the nominative. Just for

        He said that his enemies had done this to him
        EFH TOUS ECQROUS TAUTA hEAUTWi POIHSAI (with subject accusative)


        He said that he himself had done this to his enemies

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

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