RE: Permissive Subj. in Acts 7:34B

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Oct 16 1997 - 06:14:31 EDT

At 6:03 AM -0500 10/15/97, Clayton Bartholomew wrote:
>RE: Permissive Subj. in Acts 7:34B
>Carl, Carlton and Jonathan:
>I took a look in the LXX using the rather imperfect data in the
>UPenn LXX. I found a host of first person singular subjunctives
>(over 500) so I did a proximity search on *DEURO + first
>person singular subjunctive* which resulted with four
>matches: Gen. 37:13, Ex. 3:10, Num. 23:27, Sam. 16:1.
> [Greek texts omitted]
>If you take a look at these four examples in their context I
>think you will see that they all translate nicely as declarative
>futures. The imperatival tone is supplied by DEURO, but the
>following subjunctive can be read as simply a statement about
>what the speaker intends to do in the immediate future.
>I am still wondering about subjunctives and future time. Is it
>possible that we don't have a morphological future in the
>subjunctive simply because it would be redundant
>information? I know that subjunctives can be used in a
>historical narrative. But isn't the subjunctive always future
>relative to the person or persons who are caught up in the
>action specified in the verb?

Yes, it is, without a doubt. I used to think that the Greek future tense
originated as an aorist subjunctive used strictly to express futurity, but
Andrew Sihler (_New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin_) argues that it
actually derives from a PIE "desiderative" infix -ES-. I'm still not
altogether convinced so much as reduced to a sense of frustration at not
knowing enough of the pieces of the puzzle. As I said yesterday, I'd really
like to see a diachronic study of the history of the subjunctive in Greek
from 8th c. BCE up to the present; the modern Greek future is
unquestionable built upon the Hellenistic construction of hINA +
subjunctive with an auxiliary verb of will, and can have either durative or
resultative aspect, depending on whether the subjunctive used is built on
the present or the aorist stem. Thus, Modern Greek QA XERW = Koine QELW
hINA EXEURW: "I shall find" = "I want that I find." I can't escape the
feeling that the Koine subjunctive embodies a number of usages that are
transitional from an earlier to a later fixed mode of expression, and that
this is why it is so difficult to write out a simple and coherent account
of the ways in which the Koine subjunctive functions.

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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