Fwd: Re: Translating Mark 9:35

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Tue Aug 10 1999 - 13:42:52 EDT

<x-rich>>At 7:34 AM -0500 8/10/99, Ray Clendenen wrote:

>>Prof. Conrad's note ("However, one of the more common Semitisms found
in NT

>>Koine is use of the

>>future indicative FOR an imperative;") caught my attention because I

>>just read in Porter's _Idiom Book_ p. 44 that "although [the volitive

>>of the future form is frequently analyzed as the result of Semitic

>>influence, classical Greek parallels indicate that the most that can

>>argued here is that Semitic usage enhanced an already possible Greek


To which I replied:

>This may well be true; I'd like to see the evidence for it. My
suspicion is

>that it may be somewhat comparable to the recent melding together of

>senses of "you shall" and "you will"--which two phrases once had very

>distinct meanings. What I'm curious to learn more about is whether

>alleged usage of the future in an imperatival sense antedates the

>Hellenistic period. If someone has direct information on this, I'd
like to

>learn about it, but I'll try to find out what i can about it further


Here now is what the first edition of Smyth's grammar has to say on
this subject (from the Perseus web site)

Herbert Weir Smyth <italic>Greek Grammar (First Edition)</italic> 1910



1917. Jussive Future.--The future may express a command, like the
imperative; and, in the second person, may denote concession or [p.
429] permission. The negative is ou. The tone of the jussive future
(which is post-Homeric) is generally familiar.

h™s oun poisete you will do thus Plat. Prot. 338a, anagn™setai ton
nomon--anagign™ske the clerk will read the law--read Dem. 24.39, autos
gn™sei you will judge for yourself Plat. Phileb. 12a, spoud estai ts
hodou you will have to hurry on the march Thuc. 7.77, hu_meis oun, ea_n
s™phronte, ou toutou all' hu_m™n pheisesthe now, if you are wise, you
will spare, not him, but yourselves Xen. Hell. 2.3.34.

I find it interesting how Smyth translates these clauses: he makes them
sound very much like English future indicatives that clearly have an
imperatival sense but are not couched as direct commands.

These are significant examples, to be sure, and I think I might modify
my earlier assertion that the future indicative used in an imperatival
sense is a Semitism to say that Hebrew usage surely seems to play a
major role in its expanded presence in the LXX and in the GNT. In my
first response on this thread this morning, I said: "it is curious that
only Matthew preserves the future tenses of the LXXin Mt 19:18-19,
while Mk 10:19 and Lk 18:20 show these commandmentsformulated in the
more standard absolute injunction format as aorist

subjunctives." I don't want to speculate here on reasons for the
different grammatical formulation of these commandments in each of the
Synoptic gospels (although I am inclined to suspect that "Matthew"
deliberately pays homage to the LXX formulation while "Mark" and "Luke"
prefer more standard Greek formulations), but it is quite evident that
we don't find future indicative used for imperative with any great
regularity; rather we also find present and aorist imperatives and
jussive subjunctives just as in the Greek of earlier and later periods.

Carl W. Conrad

Department of Classics, Washington University

Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com

WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/


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