Re: hortatory subjunctives

From: Carlton Winbery (
Date: Thu Sep 30 1999 - 18:53:49 EDT

Bart Ehrmann wrote;

> What do you (y'all) think of translating hortatory subjunctives as "we
>should" instead of "let us"? I don't think we use the latter any more in
>normal speech, do we? (For what I have in mind -- a formal translation --
>I don't think "let's" will work; too colloquial.) But I'm not sure if the
>former really catches the flavor.
I think that the subjunctive mood has a rather wide area between the
indicative and the optative and covers a lot of options between "it is" and
"would that it were." I personally think that, in many places, we should
give it a sense of oughtness. The writer/speaker is thinking of motivating
others to do something. "Let us love one another" probably should be a
little stronger, "we should love one another." This is acceptable
especially in light of the fact that the aor. subjunctive with the negative
is a prohibition and with two negatives, an emphatic negation. I think you
could have a better translation by making the hortatory subjunctive a
little stronger in places.

Dr. Carlton L. Winbery
Foggleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
Ph. 1 318 448 6103 hm
Ph. 1 318 487 7241 off

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