Re: Degree of indefiniteness of hOSOI clause in Gal 3.10

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Feb 06 2000 - 08:39:42 EST

At 2:18 AM -0600 2/6/00, Moon-Ryul Jung wrote:
>[Carl] wrote:
>> but my own inclination is to say that the
>> sharper distinction made in classical Attic Greek between the "potential"
>> or "indefinite" indicated by hOSOI + AN + subjunctive and the actual
>> persons/things indicated by hOSOI + indicative has been MORE-OR-LESS
>> eliminated in Koine--so that we cannot be sure in the case of a hOSOI +
>> indicative in the GNT which is meant.
>But the distinction in question is still maintained in Modern Greek,
>according to the following statements of Warren:
>>In MG, hOSIOS can still highlight indefiniteness by the using the
>> with (KAI) AN. Amazing, isn't it, the persistence of this language?
>>Returning to
>> Moon's original question, then, the Gal. 3:10 use of hOSOI plus indicative,
>> when viewed through a SYNCHRONIC lens of language development, would seem to
>> point to a low degree of indefiniteness.
>If Modern Greek has
> hOSOS + subjunctive,
> hOSOS + indicative,
> POU + indicative,
>then hOSOS + indicative would be used typically when the
>referent is an actual person/thing, I would think.
>Carl's comment would make sense only when hOSOS + subjunctive is no longer
>used. Am I mislead here?

I think, Moon, that you are making the questionable assumption that all
users of a language are fully cognizant of prevalent standard syntactic
alternatives and fully observant of the nuanced differences between them.
In fact, however, it doesn't take a lot of observation of a spoken language
to discern that different individuals vary considerably in their conformity
to normative patterns--that such conformity is a matter of statistical
probability. Another factor involved in the existence of hOSOS +
subjunctive clauses in Modern Greek is the endeavor in the Katharevousa as
supported by an elite class to revive morphological and syntactical
patterns that have long since passed out of usage in the demotic language
spoken (and written) by the majority of Greek-speakers. My assertion--which
I readily admit is a supposition rather than something I can readily
prove--is that the distinction observed by classical Attic writers is
probably NOT observed by the writers of the GNT with any regularity if at
all, and that we therefore cannot be very confident about the degree of
indefiniteness intended by Paul in Gal 3:10. I would really welcome Warren
Fulton's additional input on this question and for that reason am cc'ing
this to him, hoping he's not caught up in the disturbances in Austria at
this time (I'm assuming that <.at> means Austria, at any rate).

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

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