Re: Subjunctive in Mt. 16:28

From: Maurice A. O'Sullivan (
Date: Sat Sep 19 1998 - 10:34:57 EDT

At 23:01 18/09/98 -0700, Steven Schultz wrote:
> Looking at Matthew 16:28, there there are two subjunctives:
> I would expect GEUOMAI to be in the indicative and don't know what to
>make of it in the subjunctive.

There are two points at issue here:
1. The use of OU MH with the aorist subjunctive
2. The close relationship between future and aorist subjunctive
   [ OU MH + future occurs in v. 22 ]

I don't know if you have access to Zerwicks's "Biblical Greek Illustrated
by examples" ( Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome 1963 ), so let me
attempt to summarise his points.

I. above is covered by par. 444
" OU MH with the aorist subjunctive or the future indicative is used
classically as an emphatic negaitve for the future.
In the NT, the use of the construction has become more frequent, while
the emphasis seems to have decreased ............
Outside the Book of Revelation, where it occurs 16 times, this construction
is almost limited to LXX quotations and the words of Jesus ( 57 out of 61
occurrences in the gospels ) so that Semitic influences might have been
suspected, were it not that it has no Semitic equicalent,"
and he points out that the LXX indiscriminately renders the simple Hebrrew
negative as either OU or OU MH.
He goes on to say that it cannot be explained by popular Greek usage since
OU MH rarely occurs in the papyrii. and where it occurs, is very emphatic.
He inclines to the view of Moulton ( p. 192) that:
" its use is due to the feeling of the writers that it is pecularly suited,
 as being especially decisive, to sacred utterances."
He concludes, therefore, that:
"In the majority of the NT uses OU MH may be said to express 'prophetic'
emphasis. and in the other cases it expresses, as in Greek in general, an
'emotional' emphasis, and it is to be noted that it is never used by the
Evangelists, ( or by Luke in Acts ) in their own narrative but only in
quoting the spoken word "

2. above is covered in par. 341
.".... considering the affinity between the future and the ( aorist )
subjunctive, both in origin ( the future seems to be a variant on that
subjunctive ) and in sense ( both as it were regarding an expectation and
not a realized fact"

Hope this helps.


Maurice A. O'Sullivan
[Bray, Ireland]

"Apply yourself wholly to the text; apply the text wholly to yourself."
- Johann Albrecht Bengel

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