Re: Permissive Subj. in Acts 7:34B

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Oct 14 1997 - 13:58:07 EDT

At 5:36 AM -0500 10/14/97, Clayton Bartholomew wrote:
>I do not see how APOSTEILW in Acts 7:34b can be read as a
>permissive subjunctive.
>In Acts 7:34b we have :
>Both Wallace (p464) and BDF (364(1)) call this an example
>of a permissive subjunctive. BDF states ". . . in the first
>person singular . . . an invitation is extended to another to
>permit the speaker to do something."
>I checked the LXX and the syntax of Ex 3:10 in BHS and
>read U. Cassuto on Ex 3:10 and my conclusion is that
>whatever the subjunctive is doing in this passage it is
>most certainly not permissive. The LORD is not asking
>Moses if He can send him to the Egyptians.
>I could find no English translation that rendered Acts
>7:34b in an explicitly permissive manner. What am I
>missing here? Am I misreading BDF? Quite possibly I am
>caught up in a misunderstanding about how the
>permissive subjunctive is used. Please feel free to
>straighten me out on this. I am listening.

Looks to me like the Hebrew here is a simple imperfect = future tense. I
think that the Greek subjunctive here in the first person would more
traditionally be called "hortatory:--it's the same as back in Genesis 1;1
where God says, "Let us make man ..." I don't know that "permissive" is a
very good term for it, because, as Clay says, it's not a matter of ASKING
permission, and I suspect that "permissive" derives from the English "Let
us" element, which is simply a periphrastic idiom: "Well, now, how's about
I send you to Pharaoh and get this matter straightened out." It's
tantamount to "I SHALL send you"--and all of this may come down to a use of
the subjunctive that is kindred to the Homeric, where far more often than
not, the subjunctive is simply a declarative future.

I don't know. I'm curious what others think about this.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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