Re: Subjunctive in Mt. 16:28

From: Carlton Winbery (
Date: Sun Sep 20 1998 - 06:33:45 EDT

Byron P. Knutson wrote;

>If I might be so bold as to add my 2 cents.
>When ever the subjunctive is used, the first thing you know is that there is
>an element of doubt introduced.
>1. It may be the certainty of the thing referred to.
>2. If not the certainty of the thing or event, then the time of it is in
>In this case the death of those disciples who would see this event was not
>in question. They would die. They would not certainly die, however, until
>after they saw the Lord coming in His kingdom. They would definitely see
>the Lord coming in His kingdom, but the time of that event was in question
>(thus the 2nd subjunctive). The first subjunctive, as I see it, is
>questioning the time of their death after the certain event of seeing the
>Lord come in His kingdom. That is, they would die after that, but when
>after that only God knew. Otherwise, it might be inferred that the first
>event having taken place the second would immediately follow right upon its
>heels rather than living on for many years after that before they died.
I would disagree with one statement points 1. and 2. in the context of this
statement. There is no doubt (contingency) in the phrase hOITINES OU MH
GEUSWNTAI . . . It is a strong statement about the future, "who will
certainly not taste . . . The second clause introduced by hEWS AN has the
subjunctive and does indicate contingency about when they see. . . The
first subjunctive is not talking about when but about the negative fact,
hence no contingency in the first. The structure with OU MH + subjunctive
is a common way of making a statement of what will certainly not happen.

Carlton L. Winbery
Fogleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
Pineville, LA 71359

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