ESESQE in 1 Peter 1:16

From: Jon R. Venema (
Date: Wed Nov 25 1998 - 13:26:58 EST

Subject: Re: ESESQE in 1 Peter 1:16

At 10:32 AM -0700 11/25/98, Bob Stevens wrote:
> Greetings to all the big and little Greeks!
> This is my second day on the forum and I am so
> excited to find it! I am a layman in western
> Colorado. Had two years of NT Greek at John
> Brown University twenty years ago. I love the
> language, but recognize my limitations.
> Have a question about 1 Peter 1:16, "hAGIOI
> ESESQE". My limited understanding leads me to
> see both the obvious imperative, "be holy" and a
> subtle implied promise, "you will be holy". Am I
> abusing the Greek?

Let me just say that I wouldn't normally be responding to all these
questions today, except that our recess at W.U. started after yesterday's
classes and I'm not traveling anywhere today--so am at leisure.

We're dealing in this instance with a direct citation from the LXX version
of Leviticus, a passage found three times in Leviticus (11:44,45, 19:2, and

20:7). The Hebrew imperfect, quite commonly used in the second person in an

imperative sense, gets translated regularly into the Greek future tense.
While the Greek future tense does not normally have this imperative sense,
it comes to have it regularly in the Greek NT precisely because of its
recurrent imperative usage in the Greek version of the OT. Thus you will
find that the commandments in the decalogue in Exodus 20 (as cited, e.g.,
by Jesus in Mt 1918-19, although these negative commandments are cited in
the parallel passages in Mk and Lk using MH + aorist subjunctive, which is
the more standard Greek formulation of a strong negative imperative. At any

rate, the use of the future indicative as an imperative is a semitism, and
here it is taken directly from the form in the Greek version of the Old
Carl W. Conrad

Bob, it appears I am online at the same time as Dr. Conrad. I would only
add that besides being a citation of Lev. that parallels the LXX, others
evidently had a little trouble with the use of ESESQE. Perhaps the
were unfamiliar with the citation. Nestle-Aland27 shows variants of
GENESQE (K P 049 and several lectionaries)-future
GINESQE (Majority)-present

Or, assuming the integrity of the current reading, perhaps there was an
attempt by the to explain or correct the sense with then contemporary

Jon R. Venema
Western Seminary

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