From: Carlton Winbery (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Oct 07 1998 - 13:32:58 EDT
>Bret A. Hicks wrote:
>> I was studying 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 this morning and came across
>> the negative imperatives:
>> MH SBENNUTE - do not extinguish (vs 19)
>> ME EXOUTHENEITE - do not despise (vs 20)
>> As I was researching this, I remebered the discussion on whether
>> prohibiions on present imperatives (especially as contrasted with aorist
>> subjunctives) signify that one is supposed to stop doing what they are
>> presently doing ("Stop extinguishing the Spirit"; "Stop despising
>> prophecies") or whether they are really merely prohibitions ("Do not
>> extinguish the Spirit"; "Do not despise prophecies").
>> The opinion of scholars seems to be divided. Roberston, both in his
>> Word Pictures (Volume 4, page 37) and his Grammar (pages 851-852), and
>> Brooks & Winbery (pages 127-128; they even use the verse in question as
>> an example) seem to see the use of MH with the present imperative as
>> indiciating that a present action must be stopped. On the other hand,
>> Mounce (pages 309-310) and Young (Intermediate NT Greek, page 144)
>> indicate that this is reading too much into the grammar.
>> Interestingly enough, I notice that the older grammars seem to
>> accept the distinction, while the newer ones see it as doubtful. Is
>> there a shift in understnading prohibitions with present imperatives, or
>> is the matter simply one that is debated among grammarians? Is it
>> reading too much into the grammar to suppose that this use indicates
>> stopping a present activity, or is this a distinction that should be
>> maintained? Any help would be greatly appreciated. (If this topic has
>> been discussed at length in the past, a point in the direction of the
>> dates/posts would be greatly appreciated as well.)
>English is a little strange here ~ The aorist is the simple injunctive
>"Do not despise...", whereas the present tense prohibition says "Do
>not be despising..." Implicit in the present prohibition is the idea
>that there is some despising going on, whereas in the aorist, such an
>idea is not implied. So the "Stop despising..." translation arises
>for the present injunctive.
>A little English example might help. To tell people "Do not kill one
>another" is a general injunctive, whereas to tell them "Do not be
>killing one another" seems to mean that they are killing one
>another. This distinction, however, easily blurs in English, because
>an English speaking person CAN mean either with either. Modern Greek,
>I am told, reserves the aorist injunctive as the sharp and immediate
>command to 'stop immediately', while the present form is more of a
>general prohibition. I do not know if k Greek uses the aorist as a
>sharp command... Carl?
One of the early books I studied (indeed consumed) was E.D. Burton, Syntax
of Moods and Tenses in NT Greek. I have read the more recent treatments
and books on aspect and except for a certain looseness in Hellenistic
Greek, I am unconvinced that Burton was not close to the general functions
in most of what he did (without a computer).
>>>164. (a) The Aorist Subjunctive forbids the action as a simple event
>>>with reference to the action as a whole or to its inception, and is most
>>>frequently used when the action has not been begun. Acts 18:9 and Rev.
165. (b) The Present Imperative (180-184) forbids the continuance of the
action, most frequently when it is already in progress; in this case, it is
a demand to desist from the action. Mk. 6:50 and Jn 5:14.
When the action is not yet begun, it enjoins continued abstinence
from it. Mk 13:21 and Mt. 24:23.<<<
Now citing Burton does not "prove anything," but my reading of the GNT
seems to support what he says.
Carlton L. Winbery
Fogleman Professor of Religion
Pineville, LA 71359
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