Greenwood professor of hellenistic greek and indo-european philology in the victoria university of manchester tutor in new testament language and literature


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alter the weight of syllables as it shifts from one to another.1

1 See below, p. 238.


The Middle in Out of these postulated conditions, which

Sanskrit, are of course the merest conjecture, we could

readily derive the nuance which meets us in

the earliest, accessible developments of Indo-Germanic speech.

The Indian grammarians acutely named the active parasmai-

and the middle atmane-pada, "a word for another" and

"for oneself" respectively. Thus yajate would be "he sacrifices

for himself," while yajati, unless the dat. atmane is present in

the context, is "he sacrifices for another." The essence of the

middle therefore lies in its calling attention to the agent as

in some way closely concerned with the action. The same

and in Latin. characteristic is ultimately found in other

languages. In Latin the middle has been some-

what obscured formally by the entrance of the r suffix, which

it shares with its most intimate relative, the Keltic branch.

But this has not caused any confusion with the active; so that

the Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit middle voice may be put together,

the differentia of Latin being that it has made no reserve like

the Greek aorist and future middle, in lending its middle

forms to the invading passive. In our inquiry into the

Deponents.” meaning conveyed by the middle, we naturally

start with the verbs which are found in active

only or middle only, to both of which classes the unsatisfactory

name "deponent" should be given, if retained for either.

Typical words not used in the middle, in the parent language,

are the originals of our verbs eat, come, am, and the Greek


nesequor), maimetior),

ka1 The former class will be seen to denote

"an action, an occurrence, or a state"; as likewise do the

latter, but "prevailingly such as take place in the sphere of

their subject, the whole subject being concerned in the action."

Where the distinction is so fine, it is easily seen that many

cases must arise in which we can no longer detect it, and are in

danger of over-refining if we try. Our investigation must take

account of the rather extensive categories in which one part

of the verb affects the middle and another the active form. We

1 I quote from Brugmann, Kurze vergl. Gramm. § 799, and mainly follow

his account throughout this paragraph.

have a number of cases in which the "strong" perfect active

attaches itself in meaning to the middle, either figuring

Intransitive among the parts of a verb which has no other

Strong active forms, or siding with the intransitive

Perfects. middle where the rest of the active is transi-

tive. So conspicuous is this, that the grammars

in which we learnt Greek thirty years ago actually gave


tion—as the perfect middle of that highly irregular and defec-

tive verb which in those days was our model regular.1 As

exx. of this attachment we may cite ge

e]lh2 with a]ne<&ga, e[sta


verbs. Among the few remaining strong perfects occurring

in the NT, we note a]kh3 pe

ei@lhfa, as from verbs with a future middle. We have the

defectives oi#da, e@oika, and ei@wqa; and the two isolated actives


rule which finds some link with the middle in each of the

relatively few survivors of the primitive perfect active. The

list might perhaps be slightly extended from other vernacular

Greek: thus a]gh

papyri, and belongs to a purely active verb. The conjecture

that the perfect originally had no distinction of active and

middle, its person-endings being peculiar throughout, affords

the most probable explanation of the facts: when the much

later -ka perfect arose, the distinction had become universal.

Future Middle Parallel with this peculiarity, but much more

in Active sense extensive, is the category of middle futures

attached to active verbs. As an abnormality

for which no reason could be detected, it naturally began to

suffer from levelling in Hellenistic, but is still prominent. We

have in NT a]kou

comai, gela
1 In this the grammars followed ancient authority: thus Dionysius Thrax

says, "meso h[ pote> me>n e]ne de> pa


2 The aorist h#lqon is really due to the influence of a third constituent root in

this defective verb.

3 Kekra


xwrhthe selected list of such verbs in Rutherford's small grammar

of Attic Greek, which supplies only about as many exx. of the

preservation of the old future middle. (Some of these active

futures, indeed, have warrant in classical Greek of other

dialects than Attic, even from the Homeric period; but the

list will sufficiently illustrate the weakening of this anomaly.)

In spite of this, we still find in NT o@yomai, -bh



enough to show that the phenomenon was anything but

obsolete. Rutherford classes most of them as "verbs which

denote the exercise of the bodily functions" or "intellectual

or emotional activity"; and he would suggest that "the

notion of willing implied in the future tense" may be the

reason of the peculiarity. Brugmann connects it with the

tendency of the strong aorist to be intransitive. This

would naturally prompt the transitive use of the sigmatic

aorist and consequently the future, so that the middle future

attaches itself to the active intransitive forms. The explana-

tion is only invoked for cases like bh

exclude Rutherford's suggestion. We may fairly take the

existence of this large class of futures as additional evidence

of a close connexion between the middle flexion and the

stressing of the agent's interest in the action of the verb.

Use of the What has been said of the history of

Middle: how the Middle prepares us for the statement

far is it that this voice is quite inaccurately described

reflexive? by empiric grammarians as essentially re-

flexive. As a matter of fact, the proportion of strictly

reflexive middles is exceedingly small. In NT we may cite

a]ph5) as the clearest example, and a survival

from classical Greek. But even here one may question

whether the English intransitive choke is not a truer parallel

than the reflexive hang oneself. It is curious that in

Winer's scanty list of exx. (WM 316), presumably selected as

the most plausible, we have to discount all the rest. Lou

accompanies its correlate ni

middle form (u$j lousame22) would raise diffi-

culties if it occurred in a better Hellenist. Certainly, if the

pig's ablutions are really reflexive rather than passive, sundry

current notions need revising. To our author at any rate

lousame1 In citing

59), bonus dormitat Homerus: e]kru

middle in form, nor does the verb show any distinct middle

in NT. In paraskeua8) the intransitive

prepare, make preparations, gives a better sense than the

reflexive. We might bring in such an example as mh<

sku6, compared with the illiterate contemporary

papyrus OP 295, mh> sklu

a reflexive meaning ultimately accrued to the Middle, and

in MGr almost drives other uses off the field, it would

be wrong to suppose that it was originally there. If the

active is transitive, the middle indicates that the action

goes no further than the agent himself, a sense which

naturally comes out of the concentration on the agent

characteristic of the middle. Thus ni

with or without object, but implying that the action stops

with myself. If then there is no object, ni

myself": if there is, ni

j xei?raj ="I wash my

Bearing of the hands." This characteristic produced a passive

Passive upon use of the middle, in Brugmann's opinion,

Theory of before the dialectic differentiation of Indo-

Middle. Germanic speech. Intransitive use is a

natural development from the fundamental idea of the

middle; and from intransitive to passive is but a step.

The well-known classical use of a]poqn^

correlative to a]poktei

It may seem to us strange that the same form should be

used indifferently as active or passive in meaning--that,

for example, e]nergoume16 should be translated

"working" (RV) or "inwrought,"2 with only the context

to decide. Our own coincident transitive and intransitive,

1 The rhythmical conclusion of the proverb suggests that it originated in

an iambic line from comedy. Was 2 Pet citing from memory a verse the

metrical nature of which he did not realise? If so, the original would of course

not admit lousamen borbo

a!pac u$j, or the like. But see below, p. 238, and J. B. Mayor, Comm. p. lxii.

2 See Mayor in loc., and J. A. Robinson, Eph. 247. W. F. Moulton strongly

favoured the second rendering. Why the Revisers did not give it even a

marginal place, is hard to divine: it was there in their first revision.


however, is almost equally capable of producing ambiguity,

or would be if it were not for the studied avoidance of

ambiguity which is necessarily characteristic of an analytic

language. "He who hides can find," "He who hides is safe,"

exhibit the same form both as transitive and intransitive;

and it would be easy to devise a context in which the second

would become really ambiguous.

The Middle From what has been said, it is clear that

paraphrased the most practical equivalent of the Middle

by Reflexive will generally be the active with the dative

in Dative case. of the reflexive pronoun. This is in fact

the nearest approach to a general statement which we can

formulate, premising of course that it is rough in itself,

and an exaggeration of the differentia. In prose

e[autoi?j (Lk 121), "pay attention for yourselves," we have a

phrase differing little from fula

guard," being only rather more emphatic. Mk 1447 spasa<-

menoj th>n ma51) a]pe

t. m. au]tou?: here, as in Ac 1414, where diarrh i[ma

e[autw?n replaces the more idiomatic diarrhca i[.,

we see the possessive gen. expressing the same shade of

meaning. Sometimes we find redundance, as when in Jn 1924

Typical verb in the same quotation Mt 2735. A few

Middles:— typical illustrations of the general principle

may be added. Proskalou?mai, "I call to

myself," is clear: its opposite a]pwqou?mai, "I thrust away

from myself," is not really different, since a]pwqw? e]maut&?

would show a legitimate dativus commodi. We have in fact

to vary the exact relation of the reflexive perpetually if we

are to represent the middle in the form appropriate to

the particular example. Sunebouleu4 answers

Reciprocal, to sunebouone another": here we have the reciprocal

middle, as in ma1 ]Ecele7 "they picked

out for themselves," and so "chose": cf the distinction

1 Cf the closeness of a]llhthis middle in Indog. Forsch. v. 114. Cf MGr na> parhgorhqou?me, "that we

may comfort one another" (Abbott 228, distich 56).


of ai[rw? and ai[rou?mai. Peiqein "to exercise suasion"

in the middle it keeps the action within the sphere of the

agent, and consequently means "to admit suasion to oneself."

Xrw?mai, from the old noun xrh< "necessity," is "I make

for myself what is necessary with something"—hence the

instrumental, as with the similar middle utor in Latin. Less

Dynamic, easy to define are the cases of "dynamic"

middle, where the middle endings only

emphasised the part taken by the subject in the action of

the verb, thus nh

The category will include a number of verbs in which it is

useless to exercise our ingenuity on interpreting the middle,

for the development never progressed beyond the rudimentary

stage. We need not stay to detail here the cases where the

middle introduces a wholly new meaning. On the point of

principle, it should however be noted that mental as opposed

Mental Action. to physical applications of the idea of the

verb will often be introduced in this way,

since mental action is especially confined within the sphere of

the agent. Thus katalamba5 1235),

in the middle denotes mental "comprehending," as Ac 413.

Hellenistic "On the whole the conclusion arrived at

Use of the must be that the NT writers were perfectly

Middle. capable of preserving the distinction between

the active and middle." Such is the authori-

tative summary of Blass (p. 186), which makes it superfluous

for us to labour any proof. Differences between Attic and

Hellenistic use in details are naturally found, and the un-

classical substitutions of active for middle or middle for

active are so numerous as to serve the Abbe Viteau for proof

of Hebraism on a large scale. As Thumb remarks (Hellen-

ismus 127), a mere glance into Hatzidakis's Einleitung—an

indispensable classic, the absence of which from Viteau's list

of works consulted accounts for a great deal—would have

shown him that in the Hellenistic period Greeks by birth

were guilty of many innovations in the use of the voices

which could never have owed anything to Hebrew. The NT

exx. which Hatzidakis gives (pp. 195 ff.) are not at all in-

consistent with the dictum of Blass quoted above. The

sphere of the middle was, as we have seen, not at all sharply


delimited, and usage inevitably varied in different localities

and authors. There are plenty of middles in Attic, and

even in Homer, in which the rationale of the voice is very

hard to define. Naturally such words may have dropped

a no longer intelligible distinction, just as popular Latin

did in such words as sequor and utor, while in other

words the distinction may have been applied in a dif-

ferent manner. We can see why gamei?sqai=nubere fell

out of use in Hellenistic:1 even if a need was still felt

for a separate word to suit the bride's part in a wedding,

the appropriateness of the middle voice was not clear, and

the distinction was liable to lapse. The accuracy with which

the middle was used would naturally vary with the writers'

Greek culture. Note for example how Mt and Lk correct

the e]fulacalegem observare) of their source in Mk 1020.

In Mk 223 they have removed another incorrect use, unless

o[dopoiei?n is to be read there with B etc. (WHmg); for

o[do>n means "construct a road" (Gildersleeve Synt.

69), and the middle should have been used instead. In the

less educated papyrographers we find blunders of this kind

considerably earlier than the time when the more subtle

meanings of the middle disappeared.a As early as 95 B.C.

we find e]a>n ai[rh?te and e]a>n ai[rh?sqe used side by side for "if

you like" (GH 36), and in the preceding century dialu

appears in the sense of dialuw

course sporadic, but some violations of classical usage have

almost become fixed. This especially applies to the idiom-

atic use of poiei?sqai, with a noun as substitute for a verb.

Here the middle sense was not clearly discernible to the

plain man, and poiei?n invades the province of the middle

very largely! We still have mnei16)

BU 632 (ii/A.D.), katafugh>n poiei?sqai TP 5 B.C.),

BU 970 (ii/A.D.), etc. But the recurrent phrase to> prosku<-

nhma< (sou) poiw? only twice (Letr. 117, Tb P 412) has the

middle. Mt 62, p. e]lhmosu1 sumbou2 Lk

187 p. e]kdi

1 Speaking generally: it survives in the legal language of marriage contracts,

as OP 496 (early ii/A.D.), and even Lp P 41 (iv/A.D.). [a See p. 248.

2 Of the modern phrase sumbou na> ka(Abbott 200). (On poiei?n in such phrases, cf Robinson, Eph. 172).


class of usages, in which we cannot accuse the writers of

ignorance, since the middle could only defend itself by pre-

scription. So when a new phrase was developed, there might

be hesitation between the voices: suna?rai lo

Mt 1823 2519, BU 775 (ii/A.D.), but the middle, as in FP 109

(i/A.D.), OP 113 (ii/A.D.), is more classical in spirit. In places

however where an educated Hellenist like Paul markedly

diverges from the normal, we need not hesitate on occasion

to regard his variation as purposed: thus h[rmosa2

fairly justifies itself by the profound personal interest the

apostle took in this spiritual promnhstikh<.

Ai]tw? and This is not the place for discussing, or

Ai]tou?mai even cataloguing, all the verbs which vary

from classical norm in respect of the middle

voice; but there is one special case on which we must tarry

a little longer. The distinction between ai]tw? and ai]tou?mai

claims attention because of the juxtaposition of the two in

Jas 42f., 1 Jn 515; Mk 622-25 1035. 38 (=Mt 2020. 22). The

grammarian Ammonius (iv/A.D.) declares that ai]tw? means to

ask simpliciter, with no thought of returning, while ai]tou?mai

involves only request for a loan. This remark serves as an

example of the indifferent success of late writers in their

efforts to trace an extinct subtlety. Blass (p. 186) says that

ai]tou?mai, was used in business transactions, ai]tw? in requests of

a son from a father, a man from God, and others on the

same lines. He calls the interchange in Jas and 1 Jn

"arbitrary"; but it is not easy to understand how a writer like

James could commit so purposeless a freak as this would be.

Mayor in his note cites grammarians who made ai]tou?mai =

ask meq ] i[kesi paraklh

the idea of the middle better than Ammonius' unlucky guess.

"When ai]tei?te is thus opposed to ai]tei?sqe," Mayor proceeds,

"it implies using the words, without the spirit, of prayer."

If the middle is really the stronger word, we can, understand

its being brought in just where an effect of contrast can be

secured, while in ordinary passages the active would carry as

much weight as was needed. For the alternation of active

and middle in the Herodias story, Blass's ingenious remark

may be recalled, that "the daughter of Herodias, after the

king's declaration, stands in a kind of business relation to


him " (p. 186 n.), so that the differentia of the middle cited

above will hold.

Middle and The line of demarcation between Middle

Passive Aorists. and Passive is generally drawn by the help

of the passive aorist, which is supposed to be

a sound criterion in verbs the voice of which is doubtful.

It should however be pointed out that historically this

criterion has little or no value. The "strong" aorist passive

in -hn is nothing but a special active formation, as its

endings show, which became passive by virtue of its pre-

ference for intransitive force. The -qhn aorist was originally

developed, according to Wrackernagers practically certain

conjecture, out of the old aorist middle, which in non-

thematic formations ran like e]do

the thematic -so displaced the older -qhj (Skt. -thas), the

form e]do

analogy of the -hn aorist, which was no more necessarily

passive than the identic formation seen in Latin hakes, habet.

Compare e]xa

levelling),1 where the passive idea remained impercep-

tible even in NT times: the formally passive e]kru


(cf Gen 310) will serve as an ex. of a pure

intransitive aorist from a transitive verb.2 In Homer (cf

Monro HG 45) the -qhn aorist is very often indistinguishable

in use from the aorist middle; and it is unsafe to suppose

that in later periods of the language the presence of an aorist

in -qhn or -hn is proof of a passive meaning in a "deponent"

verb. Of course the -qhn forms, with their derivative future,

were in the very large majority of cases passive; but it may

be questioned whether there was markedly more passivity in

the "feel" of them than there was in the present or perfect

formations. For example, from a]pokri

have a]pekrina

papyri, while a]pekriqhn greatly outnumbers it in the NT;

but the evidence noted above (p. 39) shows that the two

forms were used concurrently in the Koinh<, and without

1 So Ac 38 D: cf Trygaeus in Arist. Pax 291 (Blass).

2 To match these specimens of formal passives with middle meaning, we may

cite middles in passive sense. Thus BU 1053, 1055 (i/B.C.) to> e]n o]fil^>



the slightest difference of sense. W. F. Moulton was inclined

to see "a faint passive force . . . in most of the instances"

of e]sta

use as an intransitive aorist" in MGr1 (WM 315 n.). He

also suggested the possibility that e]koimh14

might be a true passive, "was put to sleep," which gives a

strikingly beautiful sense. A purely middle use of koimhqh?nai,

"fell asleep," is patent in such phrases as Ch P 3 h[ni

h@mellon koimhqh?nai e@graya e]pisto

koima?n however, though apparently dormant in classical prose,2

revives in the LXX, as Gen 2411. We may also compare the

clear passive in FP 110 (i/A.D.) i!na ta> pro

"may be folded," as the edd. translate. It seems possible

therefore to conceive the passive force existing side by side

with the simple intransitive, as apparently happened in e]sta<-

qhn (see note 1 below); but we cannot speak with confidence.

Common Perhaps the matter is best summed up

Ground. with the remark that the two voices were not

differentiated with anything like the same

sharpness as is inevitable in analytic formations such as we

use in English. We have seen how the bulk of the forms

were indifferently middle or passive, and how even those

which were appropriated to one voice or the other are

perpetually crossing the frontier. Common ground between

them is to be observed in the category for which we use the

translation "submit to," "let oneself be," etc.3 Thus in Tb P

35 (ii/B.C.) e[auto>n ai]tia

a middle; but in 1 Co 67 a]dikei?sqe and a]posterei?sqe are

described as passives by Blass, who says that "'to let' in the

sense of occasioning some result is expressed by the middle"

(p. 185). The dividing line is a fine one at best. ]Apo-

gra5 might seem to determine the voice of

the present in vv. 1. 3, but Blass finds a passive in v.1 Is

1 ]Esta(Thumb Handb. 92).

2 Cf. poreushould hardly care to call proeuqh?nai and fobhqh?nai passive. In MGr we have

some exx. of the opposite tendency, as daimoni

no. 47): in older Greek this verb is purely middle. See other exx. in Hatzi-

dakis 198 f. 3 Gal 52 periute


there adequate evidence for separating them? Formally

a]poko12 (Dt 231), is middle,1 and so are ba

and a]po16 (cf 1 Co 611 102); but if the tense

were present or perfect, could we decide? The verb u[pota

furnishes us with a rather important application of this

question. What is the voice of u[potagh28?

Is it passive—"be subjected" by as well as "to him that did

subject all things to him"? Or is it middle—"be subject"?

Findlay (EGT in loc.) calls it "middle in force, like the 2nd aor.

pass. in Rom 103, in consistency with the initiative ascribed to

Christ throughout." I incline to this, but without accepting

the reflexive "subject himself," which accentuates the differ-

ence between the identical u[potag^? and u[potagh

neutral "be subject" explains both, and the context must

decide the interpretation. In Rom 103 the RV renders "did

not subject themselves," despite the passive; and the reflexive

is an accurate interpretation, as in u[pota18.

The question next presents itself whether we are at liberty

to press the passive force of the aorist and future and perfect

of e]gei

glance at the concordance will show how often h]ge

are merely intransitive; and we can hardly doubt that h]ge

in Mk 166 and the like, translated Mq (cf Delitzsch). But if

the context (as in 1 Co 15) strongly emphasises the action of

God, the passive becomes the right translation. It is in fact

more for the exegete than for the grammarian to decide

between rose and was raised, even if the tense is apparently

unambiguous: one may confess to a grave doubt whether the

speaker of Greek really felt the distinction.2

1 The verb must be similarly treated with reference to its voice, whether we

translate with text or margin of RV. The various arguments in favour of

the margin, to which the citation of Dt l.c. commits us above, are now reinforced

by Ramsay's advocacy, Expos. for Nov. 1905, pp. 358 ff. He takes the wish

rather more seriously than I have done (infr. 201); but I should be quite ready

to go with Mr G. Jackson, in the same Expos., p. 373. See also Findlay in loc.

(Exp. B 328 f.).

2 On the Passive, reference should be made to Wellh. 25 f., for exx. showing

how this voice was largely replaced by other locutions in Aramaic (especially

the impersonal plural, p. 58 f. above), and consequently in Synoptic translations.

One or two other problems, in which Voice is concerned, must be reserved. On

bia12, Lk 1616, see Expositor, Oct. 1908, "Lexical Notes," s.c.


The Moods THE Moods which we have to discuss will be

in general. the Imperative, Subjunctive, and Optative, and

those uses of the Indicative which make it

a "modus irrealis." In this preliminary chapter we shall

aim at evaluating the primary meanings of the Moods

leaving to the systematic grammar the exhaustive classi-

fication of their uses, especially in dependent clauses.

The moods in question are characterised by a common

subjective element, representing an attitude of mind on

the part of the speaker. It is not possible for us to

determine with any certainty the primitive root-idea of each

mood. The Imperative is tolerably clear: it represented

command—prohibition was not originally associated with it,

and in Greek only partially elbowed its way in, to be elbowed

out again in the latest developments of the language. The

Subjunctive cannot be thus simply summarised, for the only

certain predication we can make of its uses is that they all

concern future time. We shall see that its force can mostly

be represented by shall or will, in one of their various senses.

Whether the Subjunctive can be morphologically traced to a

single origin is very problematic. A possible unification, on

the basis of a common mood-sign -a-, was conjectured by the

writer some years ago (AJP x. 285 f.: see the summary in

Giles, Manual2 460 n.). It is at least a curious coincidence

that the mood-sign thus obtained for the Subjunctive should

functionally resemble the –ye- under which the Optative can

confessedly be unified. We are dealing with prehistoric

developments, and it is therefore futile to speculate whether it

would be more than a coincidence, should these two closely

allied moods prove to have been formed by suffixes which


make nouns of nearly identical function. However clearly

the Optative may be reduced to a single formation, it gives

us nevertheless no hope of assigning its meanings to a single

root-idea: Optative and Potential, may and might in their

various uses, defy all efforts to reduce them to a unity. In

this book the discussion of the Potential might almost be

drawn on the lines of the famous chapter on snakes in Iceland,

but for literary survivals in the Lucan writings. (See pp. 197 ff.)

No language but Greek has preserved both Subjunctive and

Optative as separate and living elements in speech, and

Hellenistic Greek took care to abolish this singularity in a

fairly drastic way. It ought to be added, before we pass

from this general introduction, that in a historical account

of the Moods a fourth, the Injunctive, has to be interpolated,

to explain certain phenomena which disturb the development

of the others, and perhaps of the Indicative as well. The

Injunctive was simply an imperfect or aorist indicative

without the augment. Lu


how largely it contributed to the formation of the Imperative.

Syntactically it represented the bare combination of verbal

idea with the ending which supplies the subject and its

prevailing use was for prohibitions, if we may judge from

Sanskrit, where it still remains to some extent alive. The

fact that this primitive mood thus occupies ground appropriate

to the Subjunctive, while it supplies the Imperative ulti-

mately with nearly all its forms, illustrates the syntactical

nearness of the moods. Since the Optative also can express

prohibition, even in the NT (Mk 1114), we see how much

common ground is shared by all the subjective moods.

Particles affect- Before taking the Moods in detail, we

ing MoodsAv. :— must tarry a little over the consideration

@An. of two important particles which vitally

affect their constructions, a@n and mh<. The

former of these is a very marked peculiarity of Greek. It is

a kind of leaven in a Greek sentence: itself untranslatable,

it may transform the meaning of a clause in which it is

inserted. In Homer we find it side by side with another

particle, ke>n or ke (probably Aeolic), which appears to

be somewhat weaker in force: the later dialects generally


select one or the other for exclusive use. The general

definition of its meaning is not very easily laid down.

"Under the circumstances," "in that case," "anyhow," may

express it pretty well.1 The idiomatic use of "just," common

in Scotland, approximates to a@n (ke>n) very fairly when used

in apodosis: e]gw> de< ken au]to>j e!lwmai, "I'll jilt tak her mysel'."

(See p. 239.) It had become stereotyped by the time we

reach Hellenistic Greek, and we need not therefore trace its

earlier development. Two originally connected usages are

now sharply distinguished. In one, a@n stands with optative

or indicative, and imparts to the verb a contingent meaning,

depending on an if clause, expressed or understood, in the

context. In the other, the a@n (in the NT period more often

written e]a

a conjunction or a relative, to which it generally imparts the

meaning -soever: of course this exaggerates the differentia in

most cases. Here the subjunctive, invariable in Attic, does

not always appear in the less cultured Hellenistic writers.

How greatly this use preponderates in the NT will best be

shown by a table2 :—

@An (e]ajoined with relative or With indic. With opt.


Impf. Aor. Pluperf. Pres. Aor.

Mt 55 1 7 0 0 0

Mk 30 0 1 0 0 0

Lk 28 2 4 0 3 1

Ac . 10 0 1 0 3 2

Jn, 1 Jn, 3 Jn 15 7 7 1 0 0

(incl. ^@deite bis)

Rev 5 0 0 0 0 0

Paul 27 3 3 0 0 0

Heb 1 4 1 0 0 0

Jas 1 0 0 0 0 0

---- --- --- --- --- ---

Total 172 17 24 1 6 3

1 Brugmann Gram.3 499 gives "allenfalls, eventuell, miter Umstanden."

2 The corresponding figures for the LXX will be instructive. A rough count

in HR gives 739 as the total occurrences of a@n (including ka@n), apart from


(in 4 Mac, an artificial work which supplies by itself 11 out of the exx. just

noted) ; 22 can be classified as iterative; 41 are with aor. indic., 6 with imperf.

and 1 with pluperf.; and 8 are abnormal (6 with relative and fut. indic., and

1 each with pres. indic. and fut. indic.). I have included all cases in which

was read by any of the authorities cited in Swete's manual edition.


The disproportion between these totals--172 and 51—would

be immensely increased if e]a

shall see later (pp. 198 and 200) that the conditional a@n is

rapidly decaying. The other use, though extremely abundant

in our period, falls away rapidly long before the papyri fail

us; and even within the NT we notice some writers who

never show it, or only very seldom. This prepares us for

the ultimate disappearance of the particle except in composi-

tion (MGr a@n if, from the old a@n;1 saas or when, from w[j

a@n—see below; and ka@n even, used like the NT ka@n=kai<, not

affecting construction).

We proceed to mention a few miscellaneous points in

the NT use of a@n. There are three places in which the old

Iterative a@n. iterative force seems to survive: Ac 245 and

435 kaqo2

w[j a}n h@gesqe.2 "As you would be led (from day to day)

translates the last by an English iterative construction which

coincides with the conditional, as in Greek: Goodwin MT

249 pleads for a historical connexion of these two uses of

a@n. The aorist no longer appears in this construction as in

w[j a@n. classical Greek. Then we should note the

appearance of w[j a@n in constructions which

foreshadow the MGr idiom just mentioned.3 Rom 1524 is

an interesting case, because of the present subjunctive that

follows: "when I am on my way" (durative) transfers into

the subjunctive the familiar use of present for future. In

1 Co 1134 it has the easier aorist, "whenever I shall have

arrived," and so in Phil 223. In 2 Co 109, however, it

means "as it were."4 MGr till has gone further, and takes

the indicative as an ordinary word for when. The weakening

of the connexion between compounds of a@n and the sub-

junctive is seen in the appearance of the indicative with
1 On a@n and e]aif) in NT see above, p. 43 n.

2 Winer (p. 384) would make all these parallel with the use of o!pou a@n c.

indic. in Mk 656 and the like. I deal with the question below.

3 For vernacular evidence see Par P 26 (ii/B.C.—with gen. abs.), 46 (ii/B. C.—

with aor. subj.); BM 20 (ii/B.C.) suneOGIS 9023

(ii/B.C.—the Rosetta Stone) w[j a@n . . . sunesthkui
4 Both the exx. of a@n c. partic. quoted by Winer (p. 378) are w[j a@n: add 2 Mac

124. I have noted one ex. of genuine a@n c. ptc. in a Koinh< inser., IMA iii. 179

dikaioSyll. 356, a despatch of Augustus).


o!tan and e]aif), and other words of the kind. So not

infrequently in Mk, as 311 o!tan e]qew25 o!tan sth

!Otan, etc. 1119 o!tan e]ge9 o!tan dw

c. indic. 81 o!tan h@noicen. Parallel with these are

Mk 656 o!pou a@n ei]seporeu

h!yanto, Rev 144 o!pou a}n u[pa

entirely free to spell u[pa

in the least cultured of NT writers, and include presents and

futures as well as past tenses, we should hardly class them

with the cases of iterative a@n just given from well-educated

writers such as Luke and Paul, though there is an obvious

kinship. If a@n added -ever to the force of a relative or con-

junction, there seemed no reason to forbid its use with a past

tense where that meaning was wanted. The papyri yield

only a small number of parallels, showing that in general

the grammatical tradition held. Thus BU 607 (ii/A.D.)


Par P 26 (ii/B.C.) o!tan e@bhmen kat ] a]rxa>j ei]j to> i[ero

( = merely when), BU 424 (Will A.D.) e]pa>n e]puqo

. . .when), BM 331 ii/A.D.) o!sa e]a>n parelaboa The

tendency to drop the distinction of when and wheneverb may

be connected with the fact that o[po

in papyri—so the later uncials in Lk 63. ]Ea

tive is found in 1 Th 38 sth15 oi@damen, to mention

only two cases in which indic. and subj. are not formally

identical in sound. Winer quotes even e]a>n h#sqa, from Job

223 (^#j A), just as in Hb P 78 (iii/B.c.), where h#sqa is cer-

tainly subj., and e]a>n h#san in Tb P 333 (iii/A.D.). They are

probably extensions from the ambiguous e]a>n h#n, which is

normally to be read ^#: see CR xv. 38, 436, and above, p. 49.

We may add a selection from papyri:—Par P 18 e]a>n maxou?sin

met ] e]sou?. 62 (ii/B.C.) e]a

(ii/B.C.) e]a>n dei?. BU 546 (Byz.) e]a>n oi#den. OP 237 (ii/A.D.)

e]a>n d ] ei]sin fai

@An dropped from The same lesson is taught by conjunctions

its compounds. which still take the subjunctive, though a@n has

been allowed to fall out. It does not seem to

make any difference whether e!wj or e!wj a@n is written. So

with many other compounds. Thus PP i. 13 (Ptol.) o!sa

a See p. 239. b See p. 248.


o]feio!sa au]t&? proste

(i/B.C.) e!wj katab^?j, OP 34 (ii/A.D.) mhn au]t&?


the papyri with conjunctions meaning until (a@xri, me

me tou?, etc.), is paralleled in the NT:

cf Mk 1432, 2 Pet 119, Lk 138, etc. see the list in WM 371.

With pri>n (h@), however, the a@n occurs in the only place (Lk

226) where it is used with subjunctive.1

Ei] mh5 mh> a]posterei?te a]llh

ei] mh

culty] e]k sumfwj kairo

tion which seems to be matched in the papyri.2 So BU 326

(ii/A.D.) ei@ ti e]a>n a]nqrw

n meta> tau?ta


latter phrase is repeated subsequently without e]a

rather illiterate will. OP 105 (ii/A.D.) ei@ ti a@llo ai]a>n (e@lxw.

FP 130 (iii/A.D.) ei@ tinoj h]a>n xri

(iv/A.D.) ei@ ti a@n a[pacaplw?j a]nalw

are too illiterate for illustrating Paul: some early scribe is

more likely to be responsible than the apostle. Note that

Origen quotes e]a>n mh

on the whole preferable to the alternative cited from Buttmann

in WM 380 n. Winer's editor himself compared the a@n to

that in ka@n and w[j a@n which does not affect construction:

cf Tb P 28 (ii/B.C.) ei] ka@n du

Mh< More important still in its influence on

the moods is the subjective negative mh<, the

distinction between which and the objective ne (replaced in

Greek by ou]) goes back to the period of Indo-Germanic unity,

and survives into the Greek of the present day. The history

of mh< has been one of continuous aggression. It started in

principal clauses, to express prohibition. As early as Homer

1 Luke once uses it with subj. and once with opt., both times correctly with

a negative clause preceding (Lk 1.c., Ac 2519. The papyrus writers are not so

particular. Elsewhere in NT the infin. construction is found.

2 See Deissmann BS 204 n. He quotes BU 326, but will not allow that ei]

mhn mh

Blass2, p. 321, has not summarised him quite adequately, if I understand Deiss-

mann correctly. The point is that a@n is added to ei] mh

or o!te, meaning unless in a given case, unless perhaps. See further p. 239.


mh< had established itself in a large and complex variety of

uses, to which we have to appeal when we seek to know

the true nature of the modal constructions as we come to

them. Since every Greek grammar gives the ordinary rules

distinguishing the uses of ou] and mh< we need not examine

them here in their historical relationship: what must be said

will come up best as we deal with the moods seriatim. But

the broad differences between Hellenistic and earlier Greek in

this respect raise questions affecting the moods as a whole,

and especially the verb infinite. We must therefore sketch

the subject briefly here.

Blass's Canon. The difference between ou] and mh< in the

Koinh< of the NT becomes a very simple

matter if we accept the rule which Blass lays down (p. 253).

"All instances," he says, "may practically be brought under

the single rule, that ou] negatives the indicative, mh< the other

moods, including the infinitive and participle." In review-

ing Blass, Thumb makes the important addition that in

MGr de

as we can easily understand from many of its adverbial

uses in NT) belongs to the indicative and mh<(n) to the sub-

junctive. The classical paper of Gildersleeve in the first

number of his AJP (1880), on encroachments of mh< upon ou]

in the later Greek, especially in Lucian, makes it very clear

that the Attic standard was irrecoverable in Lucian's day

even by the most scrupulous of Atticists: cf the parallel case

of the optative (below, p. 197). It is of course obvious

that the ultimate goal has not been completely reached in

NT times. Mh< has not been driven away from the indicative.

Its use in questions is very distinct from that of ou],1 and is

1 Blass (p. 254 n.) thinks that mh5 "hardly lends itself to the

meaning 'certainly not I suppose.'" But the tone of this word, introducing a

hesitant question (as Jn 429), is not really inappropriate. We often hear "I

suppose you haven't got . . . on you, have you?" Moreover, the papyri show

us that prosfa

Expos. viii. 437, to which I can now add OP 736 and 738 (cir. A.D. 1). The

apostles had left even a@rtoi behind them once (Mk 814): they might well have

left the "relish" on this occasion. It would normally be fish ; cf Mk 638.

(While speaking of Jn 1.c., I should like to add that the address Paidi

"Lads!", may be paralleled in MGr, e.g. in the Klepht ballad, Abbott 42--


maintained in NT Greek without real weakening. Mh< re-

mains after ei] c. indic. in unfulfilled conditions, except in

Mk 1421 (and Mt). But in simple conditions ei] ou] is common

Luke has 6, Jn 3, Paul 16, Jas 2, and Mt, Heb, 2 Pet, and

Rev one each. Against this total of 31, we have 4 exx. of

ei] mh< in simple conditions with verb expressed, and three of

these (1 Co 152, 2 Co 135, Gal 17) are anything but normal:1

1 Tim 63 is more ordinary, according to classical standards.

Blass adds ei] de> mh> oi#daj from the agraphon in D at Lk 64.

Ei] mh< is three times as common in NT as ei] ou], but we

soon see that it is restricted to three uses: (1) in protasis

of unreal conditions; (2) meaning except, much like plh

(3) with de,< meaning otherwise, without verb expressed. Lk

913, with a deliberative subjunctive following, is exceptional.

Such being the facts, it is difficult to combat the assertion

that ei] ou] came to be the norm;2 though doubtless several of

its exx. were correct according to classical standards, as in

Rom 89, where a single word is negatived rather than a

sentence. A few survivals of mh< in relative sentences pre-

serve literary construction; so Ac 1529 D, 1 Jn 43 (unless we

desert the extant MSS for patristic evidence and read lu

with Wiling and Blass), Tit 111, 2 Pet 19. A genuine

example of the old distinction is traceable in the otherwise

identic phrases of Jn 318 and 1 Jn 510: the former states

the charge, quod non crediderit, the latter the simple fact, quod

non credidit. But it must be allowed that this is an isolated

case.1 We will leave to the next chapter the only other excep-

tion to Blass's canon, the limited use of ou] with the participle.

The First among the Moods we take up the

Imperative :-- Imperative. It is the simplest possible form

of the verb. @Age the imperative of a@gw, and

a]ge< the vocative of a]go

by isolating the root and adding no suffix—the thematic vowel

e is now generally regarded as a part of the root rather than

a suffix. In our own language, where nouns and verbs have

in hosts of cases reunited through the disappearance of suffixes,

we can represent this identity easily. "Murder!", in Russia

or Armenia, might be either verb or noun—a general order to
1 See below, p. 239. 2 See p. 240.


soldiers charging a crowd, or the scream of one of the victims.

The interjection, as we might expect, was indifferently used

for 2nd and 3rd person, as is still shown by the Latin agito,

Skt. ajatat, (= age + tod, the ablative of a demonstrative pro-

noun, "from this (moment)," added to make the command more

peremptory). How close is the kinship of the interjection

and the imperative, is well shown by the demonstrative

adverb deu?ro, "hither," which only needs the exclamation

mark to make it mean "come here": it even forms a plural

deu?te in this sense. We shall recall this principle when we

describe the use of the infinitive in commands.

Tone of There being in Greek a considerable

Imperative. variety of forms in which one man may

express to another a wish that is to control

his action, it will be necessary to examine the tone of that

mood which is appropriated to this purpose. As we might

expect from our own language, the imperative has a very

decided tone about it. The context will determine how much

stress it is carrying: this may vary from mere permission, as

in Mt 832 (cf e]pe13) or

1 Co 715, to the strongest command. A careful study of the

imperative in the Attic Orators, by Prof. C. W. E. Miller

(AJP xiii. 3 9 9 ff.), brings out the essential qualities of the

mood as used in hortatory literature. The grammarian Her-

mogenes asserted harshness to be a feature of the imperative;1

and the sophist Protagoras even blamed Homer for addressing

the Muse at the beginning of the Iliad with an imperative.2

By a discriminating analysis of the conditions under which

the orators use the imperative, Miller shows that it was

most avoided in the proem, the part of the speech where con-

ciliation of the audience's favour was most carefully studied;

and the criticism of Protagoras, which the ancients took

more seriously than many moderns have done, is seen to

be simply due to the rhetorician's applying to poetry a rule

that was unchallenged in rhetoric. If a cursory and limited

observation may be trusted, the ethos of the imperative

had not changed in the age of the papyri. Imperatives

1 Sxh traxen ta> prostaktika<.

2 Ap. Aristotle Poetics ch. 19.


are normal in royal edicts, in letters to inferiors, and among

equals when the tone is urgent, or the writer indisposed to

multiply words: they are conspicuously few in petitions.

When we come to the NT, we find a very different state

of things. The prophet is not accustomed to conciliate

his hearers with carefully softened commands; and in the

imperial edicts of Him who "taught with authority," and

the ethical exhortations of men who spoke in His name,

we find naturally a large proportion of imperatives. More-

over, even in the language of prayer the imperative is at

home, and that in its more urgent form, the aorist. Gilder-

sleeve observes (on Justin Martyr, p. 137), "As in the Lord's

Prayer, so in the ancient Greek liturgies the aor. imper.

is almost exclusively used. It is the true tense for 'instant'

prayer." The language of petition to human superiors is

full of de

whereby the request may be made palatable. To God we

are bidden by our Lord's precept and example to present

the claim of faith in the simplest, directest, most urgent

form with which language supplies us.

Tenses of The distinction between present and

Imperative. aorist imperative has been drawn already,

to some extent, in the discussion of pro-

hibitions; for though the subjunctive has to be used in the

aorist, it is difficult to question that for this purpose the

two moods hardly differ—the reason for the ban on mh>


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