[b-greek] Re: Use of MH

From: Steven Lo Vullo (doulos@merr.com)
Date: Sun Nov 25 2001 - 15:39:23 EST


On Sunday, November 25, 2001, at 03:21 AM, Stephen Ferguson wrote:

> Hi, I am a first year Greek student and am de-lurking to ask a question.
> I am studying James 4:11-12, and came across a comment in a commentary
> on which I would like some clarification. The commentary stated that MH
> used with a present imperative (KATALALEITE in this instance) indicates
> a command to stop doing something rather than instruction to avoid
> doing it.
> I didn't see this mentioned in other sources and would like to know if
> this is a commonly used expression, and if it is definite enough to
> indicate that James was issuing a command.

Hi Stephen:

The idea that MH with the present imperative NECESSARILY indicates a
command to STOP doing something rather than AVOID doing it is one of
those longstanding myths that still plagues grammars and commentaries.
This construction MAY indicate a command to stop an action, but only if
the contextual conditions are right. But this is an affected meaning or
specific usage, and to insist that this is the essential idea is not
correct. The basic force of the present in commands/prohibitions is that
it views the action internally, as open-ended. The idea in James 4.11
seems to be to HABITUALLY refrain from speaking evil against one
another, as the general tone of the remainder of the sentence indicates.

Steven Lo Vullo
Madison, WI

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