Re: Aorist subjunctive (?) of tithemi

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu May 01 1997 - 13:05:10 EDT

At 11:20 AM -0500 5/1/97, Jim Stamper wrote:
>Ev. John 15:13 is usually translated something like (NRSV): "No one has
>greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." If I
>have the grammer right, the Greek is aorist subjunctive of tithemi, "put
>I wonder if anybody on the list has any thoughts about translation that
>might better convey the continuing nature of the verb's action and how, if
>it even matters, the subjunctive might better be conveyed in English?

The subjunctive is AORIST, not PRESENT--so one would not want to convey any
continuing nature of the verb's action. Cats may have nine lives, but with
notable exceptions such as Lazarus, human beings normally die only once. As
for the better way to convey the subjunctive, the old KJV version entailed
an English subjunctive, "that a man lay down his life for his friends." In
this instance, however, and in the instance of quite a few Koine hINA
noun-clauses, the infinitive does seem the most natural English equivalent.
You may not think that the NRSV is elegant, but it says what the Greek says
in just about the most natural way possible in modern English.

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

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