Greek conditionals

From: Kimmo Huovila (
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 04:08:30 EST

CAIRETE PANTES. Perhaps the most common way of analyzing Koine Greek 1st
class conditions is that the protasis makes an assertion for the sake of
argument. Is this view viable?

To me it seems that in 1st class conditions there is hardly any
discernible assertion made even for the sake of argument. If it
asserted, or even presupposed, something for the sake of argument, the
expression of opposite cases with first class conditions would hardly
have textual fit (e.g. Matt. 12:27-28). Furthermore, in the usual scheme
there is no neutral variant to use in the present or past tense! The 1st
class condition has the greatest
frequency, which taken together with the observation with opposite
conditions leads one to hypothesise that it is neutral in terms of
presupposing the premise.

The normal function of the indicative does not quite argue for any
assertion, since the nature of the conditional sentence is to describe
the interdependence of two propositions (or proposition and command
etc.). Thus the first proposition is not really asserted (in my opinion)
to be true or false, though it may be presupposed to be either.

Another question on what seems to be a prevailing opinion on Greek
conditionals: in terms of the condition type, the presence or absence of
AN is usually taken to be secondary in importance to the mood. While I
have no firm basis to question this, I just wonder if this has been well
argued for.

The indicative and the subjunctive were pronounced most of the time
alike in Koine, as the pitch accent shifted to a stress accent
obliterating quantitative distinctions of the vowels. Could AN have been
used as a kind of modal marker in conditional sentences?

Here are two hypotheses for you to shoot down. I would also appreciate
any bibliographical references where arguments about the Greek
conditionals are discussed.


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