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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as "utterly ridiculous") but for the feeling that there is

a subjunctive dw<^, though he only quotes Homer. But

we must not press this, only citing from Rutherford the

statement that some MSS read "d&
Gorg. 481A, where the optative would be most obviously

out of place. If we read the opt. in 2 Tim l.c., we can

only assume that the writer misused an obsolete idiom,

correctly used in Lk 315 in past sequence. Against this

stands the absence of evidence that Paul (or the auctor ad

, if the critics demur) concerned himself with

literary archaisms, like his friends the authors of Lk, Ac,

and Heb. Taking dw<^ and a]nanh

the mh

haply God may give": cf the well-known idiom with ei],

"to see if," as in Ac 2712, Rom 110, Lk 1428, Phil 311f. See in

favour of dw<^ the careful note in WS 120, also Blass 50.2

The Optative :— We take next the Optative, which makes

Optative so poor a figure in the NT that we are tempted

Proper; to hurry on. In MGr its only relic3 is the

phrase mh> ge16

and 14 times in Rom (10), 1 Co (1) and Gal (3). This is

of course the Optative proper, distinguished by the absence

of a@n and the presence (if negative) of mh<. Burton (MT 79)

cites 354 proper optatives from the NT, which come down to

1 Note OP 743 o!loj diaponou?mai ei] !E. xalkou?j a]posays (p. 57) "idem quad frequentius a]gwniw? mh<." Aliter G. and H.

2 Unfortunately we cannot call the LXX in aid: there are a good many

exx. of d&29, Judg 929,

2 Sam 1833, Job 3133, Ca 81, Jer 92, might well seem deliberative subj., but

Ps 120(119)3 ti< doqei ti< prosteqei

ambiguity. We may regard these as real wishes thrown into the interrogative

form. The LXX use of the optative looks a promising subject for Mr Thackeray's

much-needed Grammar. We will only observe here that in Num i.e. the

Hebrew has the simple imperf.—also that A has a tendency to change opt. into

subj. (as Ruth 19 d&? . . . eu!rhte), which accords with the faint distinction

between them. In Dt 2824ff. we have opt. and fut. indic. alternating, with

same Hebrew. A more surprising fusion still—worse than 2 Tim l.c. with

d&24 e]a prosape

3 But see p. 240. 4 Read 38: I correct the remaining figures.


23 when we drop mh> ge(Rom 155. 13, Philem 20, 2 Tim 116. 18 416, the rest in 1 and

2 Th), while Mk, Lk, Ac, Heb, 1 Pet and 2 Pet have one

apiece, and Jude two. ]Onai20 is the only

proper optative in the NT which is not 3rd person.1 Note

that though the use is rare it is well distributed: even Mk has

it (p. 179), and Lk 138 and Ac 820 come from the Palestinian

stratum of Luke's writing. We may bring in here a com-

parison from our own language, which will help us for the

Hellenistic optative as a whole.2 The optative be still keeps a

real though diminishing place in our educated colloquial: "be

it so" or "so be it," is preserved as a formula, like mh> ge

but "Be it my only wisdom here" is felt as a poetical archaism.

So in the application of the optative to hypothesis, we should

not generally copy "Be it never so humble," or "If she

be not fair to me": on the other hand, "If I were you"

is the only correct form. "God bless you!" "Come what

may," "I wish I were at home," are further examples of

optatives still surviving. But a somewhat archaic style is

recognisable in

"Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small."

We shall see later that a Hellenist would equally avoid in

colloquial speech a construction like

ei] kai> ta> pa

ta> pa

e@lasson h} w!ste dou?nai

The Hellenist used the optative in wishes and prayers very

much as we use our subjunctive. It is at home in formuhe,

as in oaths passim: eu]orkou?nti me ta>

—ii/A.D.), . . . paradw

301—ii/A.D.), etc. But it is also in free use, as OP 526

(ii/A.D.) xai

(ii/iii A.D.), mhdei poih1 Some support for the persistence of this optative in the Koinh< may be found

in its appearance in a curse of iii/B.C., coming from the Tauric Chersonese, and

showing two Ionic forms (Audollent 144, no. 92).

2 Cf Sweet, New English Grammar: Syntax 107 ff.


BU 741 (ii/A.D.) o{ mh> gei de> geeu]hmerei?n, BCH 1902, p. 217, kexolwme

in Hypothesis, clauses with ei], as is shown by the negative's

being mh<, as well as by the fact that we can

add ei], si, if, to a wish, or express a hypothesis without a

conjunction, by a clause of jussive or optative character. Ei]

with the optative in the NT occurs in 11 passages, of which

4 must be put aside as indirect questions and accordingly

falling under the next head. The three exx. in Ac are all in

or. obl.: 2016 ("I want if I can to . . . "), and 2739 ("We

will beach her if we can"), are future conditions; and 2419

puts into the past (unfulfilled) form the assertion " They

ought to bring their accusation, if they have any" (e@xousi).

The remainder include ei] tu10 1537, the only

exx. in Paul, and two in 1 Pet, ei] kai> pa14 and ei]

qe17. The examination of these we may defer till

we take up Conditional Sentences together. We only note

here that HR give no more than 13 exx. from LXX of ei]

c. opt. (apart from 4 Mac and one passage omitted in uncials):

about 2 of these are wishes, and 5 are cases of w!s(per)

ei@ tij, while 2 seem to be direct or indirect questions.

Neither in LXX nor in NT is there an ex. of ei] c. opt.

answered with opt. c. a@n, nor has one been quoted from the

papyri.1 To the optative proper belongs also that after final

particles, as we infer from the negative mh< and from its being

an alternative for the (jussive) subjunctive. It does not how-

in Final clauses ever call for any treatment in a NT grammar.

We have seen already (p. 55) that i!na doi?

and i!na gnoi? are unmistakably subjunctives: if i!na d&

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