(Augmented!) imperfects without past reference

From: Jonathan Robie (jwrobie@mindspring.com)
Date: Tue May 20 1997 - 21:56:18 EDT


Hello, friends,

Would you believe that I'm still chewing on this one? Someone mentioned the
possibility that these three passages could simply be read as standard
imperfects. This is *not* the traditional view, and isn't reflected in most
translations, but it seems plausible:

The traditional view is that the imperfect in these passages takes a meaning
of potential desire - "I should like", "I could wish":

>Roma 9:3 (GNT) *HUCOMHN* GAR ANAQEMA EINAI AUTOS EGW
>APO TOU CRISTOU hUPER TWN ADELFWN MOU TWN SUGGENWN MOU KATA SARKA,
>Roma 9:3 (RSV) For *I could wish* that I myself were
>accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my
>brethren, my kinsmen by race.

Or: "For I have been wishing that I myself were accursed and cut off from
Christ for the sake of my brethren..." What is there in the text which would
make me choose one meaning over the other?

>Acts 25:22 (GNT) AGRIPPAS DE PROS TON FHSTON: *EBOULOMHN*
>KAI AUTOS TOU ANQRWPOU AKOUSAI. AURION, FHSIN, AKOUSH AUTOU.
>Acts 25:22 (RSV) And Agrippa said to Festus, "*I should like*
>to hear the man myself." "Tomorrow," said he, "you shall hear him."

Or: "I have been wanting to hear the man myself". Why should I read this "I
should like" instead of "I have been wanting"?

>Gala 4:20 (GNT) *HQELON* DE PAREINAI PROS hUMAS ARTI
>KAI ALLAXAI THN FWNHN MOU, hOTI APOROUMAI EN hUMIN.
>Gala 4:20 (RSV) *I could wish* to be present with you
>now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

Or: "I have been wanting to be with you just now"...(c.f. John 11:8 NUN
EZHTOUN SE LIQASAI hOI IOUDAIOI - "the Jews were just now seeking to stone
you" as an indication for how to combine the imperfect with adverbs of time
like NUN and ARTI)

So does the "desiderative imperfect" exist at all? If so, how can I
distinguish it from a normal imperfect? It seems plausible that a
desiderative imperfect *could* exist in a language, since German can use
"wuenschte" in a similar way (Denn ich wčnschte, als ein Verfluchter selber
fern von Christus zu sein zum Besten meiner Brčder...), but how good is the
evidence for a desiderative imperfect in Greek?

Jonathan

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Jonathan Robie jwrobie@mindspring.com http://www.mindspring.com/~jwrobie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703 http://www.poet.com
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