subjunctive contingency

From: Jon R. Venema (104412.344@compuserve.com)
Date: Mon May 03 1999 - 11:43:19 EDT


Message text written by "Mark House"

>A student raised a question the other day that I told him I would research
>further. It relates to the use of the subjunctive mood, which I told my
>students typically introduces a mild element of contingency.
Specifically,
>we're reading 1 John 1, and the question arose concerning the use of the
>subjunctive in v. 9, where the writer promises that (pardoning any
>transliteration flubs) EAN hOMOLOGWMEN TAS hAMARTIAS hHMWN, PISTOS ESTIN
KAI
>DIKAIOS, hINA AFHi HMIN TAS AMARTIAS.... The question concerned the hINA
>clause, which I explained as a result rather than a purpose clause.
>Wouldn't the use of a future indicative (without hINA) have made the
promise
>more reliable? Something like: If we confess..., he is faithful...and he
>WILL forgive.... Put another way, doesn't the subjunctive here lend to
the
>uncertainty of a promise that the writer seems to want to drive home to
his
>readers with certainty?

>I ventured the guess that the INA clause is a standard way of expressing
>results (or, more frequently, purpose), and doesn't necessary carry with
it
>any implicit uncertainty. But that answer did seem to run contrary to my
>prior definition of the subjunctive as communicating contingency.

>Any comments will be greatly appreciated.

>Mark House
>Adjunct Greek Prof.
>Fuller Theological Seminary

Mark,

I have tended to treat this hINA clause as equivalent to an infinitive
which,
after adjectives denoting ability fitness, capacity, etc, may serve to
define
the meaning of the adjective (Smyth 2002), and could be classified as an
explanatory/expexegetical use of hINA. Result is not out of the question
(given his PISTOS ESTIN KAI DIKAIOS, we can expect . . .). I render it in

English like an infinitive with "to" (often used with a sense of to
complete or
explain).

Jon R. Venema
Western Seminary

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