[b-greek] Re: Rom 9:3

From: Bill Barton (phos@prodigy.net)
Date: Fri Jul 07 2000 - 00:13:32 EDT

Mike Wine wrote:

MW>But some, like Young's render the verb in such a way (more literally?)
that this phrase refers to Saul's pre-Christian thinking: For I was wishing
(i.e., when I was not a Christian).>

In context the passage seems to be talking about the blindness of Israel
rather than the blindness of Paul personally (although that's a matter of
interpretation). In that case one might prefer to view verse 3 as an
idiomatic expression of grief in offering to take the place of blinded
Israel in being alientated from God. The expression would be idiomatic
because such an exchange in literal fact would be a moral wrong.

In line with this Robertson (Grammar pg. 919) says this use of the
imperfect in Rom 9:3 is not literal (as HUCONTO Acts 27:29) but rather is
an idiomatic usage.

He discusses this idiomatic use of the imperfect (the "potential"
imperfect) in Grammar pp. 885ff. He notes it is a "peculiar use of the
imperfect for the present time, where the present indicative fails to meet
the requirement of the situation."

In particular he discusses verbs of wishing. He says the exact idea is "I
was just on the point of wishing" which is freely rendered as "I could
wish" or "I should wish."

He gives the following other examples of the potential imperfect:

Acts 25:22 (as courtesy rather than blunt BOULOMAI)
2 Cor 1:15
Philem 13
Gal 4:20

Of Rom 9:3 Robertson (Grammar pg. 886) notes that Paul does not say EUCOMAI
(present middle, i.e. simple statement of fact, cf 2 Cor 13:7); nor
EUXAIMHN AN (optative aorist middle, conclusion of fourth class condition
with AN, so-called potential optative, i.e. undetermined with less
likelihood, cf Acts 26:29).

Elsewhere (Word Pictures) Robertson notes that AN HUCOMHN (imperfect with
AN, conclusion of second class condition) would mean that Paul does not
wish. And he concludes that since the aorist with AN and the aorist
optative with AN are likewise insufficient, Paul is therefore "shut up to
the imperfect indicative."

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