Re: subjunctive contingency

From: George Blaisdell (
Date: Mon May 03 1999 - 13:58:16 EDT


>From: "Mark House"

>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

>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
>more reliable? Something like: If we confess..., he is faithful...and he
>WILL forgive....

I would venture to observe that were it future indicative it would involve a
quid pro quo that the author wishes to avoid, placing the confesser in
charge of his own forgiveness of sins.

>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?

Certainty not! :-)

I would see it as a subjunctive of probable result, which avoids the vanity
of the sinner controlling his own forgiveness through confession, yet opens
the way for its promise...
>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.

Well, I appreciate your question ~ It reflect some good sand in yer craw!

George Blaisdell
Roslyn, WA

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