Re: hUYEI and TAPEINWSEI in James 1:9-10

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Apr 18 1998 - 07:33:03 EDT

At 7:27 PM -0500 4/18/98, Paul Zellmer wrote:
>So we're still in the first chapter of James in our translation. Even
>we take breaks for Easter!
>In vv 9-10 we have two nouns whose forms sure look like they may be
>based on future subjunctives (?!). Is the subjunctive idea a
>possibility in these texts: EN TWi hUYEI AUTOU and EN THi TAPEINWSEI
>AUTOU? (I'm guessing that the sigma came into both forms through the
>future, since I see no evidence of a residual sigma-alpha.)
>I realize that they cannot be "straight" subjunctives, because they are
>used in prepositional clauses. But if the subjunctive concept carries
>through to the nominal form, these verses would then have the possible
>implication that the "boasting" is conditional on a change of status.
>It looks to me like guidelines for possible testimonies!

Perhaps I'm missing something here, Paul, but (a) there is, of course, no
future subjunctive (there's a future optative, but I don't think it ever
appears in the NT), (b) as is indicated by EN and dative articles, hUYEI
and TAPEINWSEI are not verbs at all but dative singular nouns, the
respective nominatives being hUYOS and TAPEINWSIS. hUYOS is a neuter sg.,
"height," TAPEINWSIS a fem. sg. noun of a common type in -SIS that is built
upon a verbal stem, in this instance, the verbal stem of TAPEINOW--nouns in
-SIS normally refer to an action or process, just as nouns in -MA normally
refer to an end-result and nouns in -TWR or -THR normally refer to an agent
who performs the action. At any rate, TAPEINWSIS here must mean "being
low," "being humble," and in the context hUYOS must be its antithesis,
"being high," "being proud." Sorry to be so pedantic here, but it looks
like you've assumed that the -S- in these noun stems is a future marker of
a verb, but it isn't. There is a verb hUYOW which looms large in John's
gospel, especially in the passive form, hUYWQHNAI, and there is of course a
verb TAPEINOW which is in fact the basis of the noun TAPEINWSIS here. If I
have read your confusion rightly, perhaps it stems from the fact that
TAPEINWSEI would be spelled identically as the future indicative active 3
sg. of TAPEINOW, but in our context it can only be the dative singular of
the noun. Does that help? Or have I misunderstood what you are asking?

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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