John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics
Scott Lawson
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John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Post by Scott Lawson » December 15th, 2016, 4:34 pm

I'm wrestling with John 17:3. Specifically the ἵνα clause. It seems ἵνα γινώσκωσιν substitutes for an infinitive, which BDAG confirms, but how?

John 17:3 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωὴ ἵνα γινώσκωσιν σὲ τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν καὶ ὃν ἀπέστειλας Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν.

BDAG:
e. ἵνα can also take the place of the explanatory inf. after a demonstrative (B-D-F §394; Rdm. 192.—Wsd 13:9; Just., D. 14, 2 τοῦτο γάρ ἐστι τὸ σύμβολον τῶν ἀζύμων, ἵνα μὴ . . .) Mk 11:28. πόθεν μοι τοῦτο ἵνα ἔλθῃ (for τὸ ἐλθεῖν τὴν κτλ.) Lk 1:43 (cp. GJs 12:2). τοῦτο προσεύχομαι ἵνα Phil 1:9. cp. 1 Cor 9:18. This is a favorite usage in J: τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ ἔργον τοῦ θεοῦ ἵνα πιστεύητε (for τὸ πιστεύειν ὑμᾶς) 6:29; cp. vs. 50. μείζονα ταύτης ἀγάπην οὐδεὶς ἔχει ἵνα . . . θῇ (for τοῦ θεῖναι) 15:13; cp. 3J 4.—J 6:39 17:3; 1J 3:11, 23; 4:21; 5:3; 2J 6a. ἐν τούτῳ: ἐν τούτῳ ἐδοξάσθη ὁ πατήρ μου ἵνα . . . φέρητε (for ἐν τῷ φέρειν ὑμᾶς ἐδοξάσθη) J 15:8; cp. 1J 4:17.—S. also Hs 9, 28, 4, and ποταπὴν ἀγάπην ἵνα 1J 3:1

Caragounis has some comments that may shed light on why ινα + subjunctive can be used as a substitute for an infinitive. I welcome help in exegeting Caragounis' comments. Do his comments give an explanation for why ινα + subjunctive may function as an infinitive? - See pics below.

Accepting that ινα + subjunctive can substitute for an infinitive then we would use γινώσκειν resulting in αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωὴ το γινώσκειν σὲ.

In our restructured sentence γινώσκειν is a substantival infinitive in apposition to the demonstrative pronoun αὕτη. Wallace says that apposition differs slightly from epexegetical in that it typically defines the noun rather than describing it. Also, the appositional infinitive can stand in for the noun or pronoun whereas the epexegetical infinitive cannot. But the two are so closely related that Wallace says if the distinction between the two categories is too fuzzy to discern then likely it will make little or no different for exegesis. GGBB pgs 606-607

But we can go a step further in restructuring our sentence by replacing the demonstrative pronoun with το γινώσκειν we get το γινώσκειν σε ἡ αἰώνιος ζωὴ ἐστιν.

Perhaps the above circumlocutions are unnecessary since it is obviously that an oblique mood cannot work in a subset proposition since it states a fact.

A couple more questions remain 1) Does the present tense form of γινώσκω/γινώσκειν imply continuous action? 2) Is the sense of "acquiring knowledge" present in γινώσκω at J17:3?

BDAG:

2. to acquire information through some means, learn (of), ascertain, find out a. w. acc. as obj. (1 Km 21:3; 1 Ch 21:2; 4 Macc 4:4) τοῦτο (1 Km 20:3) Mk 5:43. τὰ γενόμενα what has happened Lk 24:18. τὸ ἀσφαλές Ac 21:34; 22:30. τὰ περὶ ἡμῶν our situation Col 4:8; your faith 1 Th 3:5. Pass. become known to someone w. or without dat. of the pers. who is informed: of secret things Mt 10:26; Lk 8:17; 12:2. Of plots Ac 9:24 (cp. 1 Macc 6:3; 7:3, 30 al.). b. w. ὅτι foll. (PGiss 11, 4 [118 AD] γεινώσκειν σε θέλω ὅτι; 1 Esdr 2:17; Ruth 3:14) J 4:1; 5:6; 12:9; Ac 24:11 v.l. c. abs. (1 Km 14:29; 3 Km 1:11; Tob 8:12 al.) μηδεὶς γινωσκέτω nobody is to know of this Mt 9:30. ἵνα τις γνοῖ that anyone should obtain knowledge of it Mk 9:30. d. γ. ἀπό τινος ascertain fr. someone 15:45.
Scott Lawson

Stephen Carlson
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Re: John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 15th, 2016, 7:02 pm

I'm not sure what you're asking. It might help if you posted the pictures from Caragounis.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Scott Lawson
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Re: John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Post by Scott Lawson » December 15th, 2016, 11:01 pm

First, here is a portion from Margaret G. Sim's work on ινα and οτι:
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IMG_4582.JPG (391.94 KiB) Viewed 985 times
Scott Lawson

Scott Lawson
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Re: John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Post by Scott Lawson » December 15th, 2016, 11:09 pm

Here's the comments from Caragounis I mentioned:
IMG_4577.JPG
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IMG_4578.JPG
IMG_4578.JPG (1.47 MiB) Viewed 984 times
Scott Lawson

Paul-Nitz
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Re: John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Post by Paul-Nitz » December 16th, 2016, 9:33 am

The two grammar excerpts did not help me. Let me try conjecture.

Scott’s composed sentence reads:
  • αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωὴ το γινώσκειν σὲ. [This then is eternal life: to know you]
Would it work to include in this sentence an Accusative of Reference ( “Accusative as Subject of an Infinitive”).
Could we write as follows?
  • αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωὴ το γινώσκειν αὐτοὺς σὲ. [This then is eternal life: them to know you]
I have no grammatical rule to quote against it, but it doesn’t feel right. With a preposition it feels right and is common. εἰς τὸ παρακαλέσαι ἡμᾶς Τίτον 2 Co 8:6

Could it be that you the need movement, a telic / purpose/ “to this end” idea, that the preposition gives,
in order to use the Accusative of Reference to point a finger at the “subject” of the infinitive?

I searched the NT trying to prove my intuition wrong. The few “τὸ + Infinitive (without preposition)“ examples that I found had no Accusative pointing at the "subject" of the infinitive. I searched my other tagged Koine resources and found many more “τὸ + Infinitive (without preposition)“ examples. None that I scanned had an Accusative of Reference. I’m no expert at this sort of corpus research, so I’ll be happy to hear otherwise.

If Accusative of Reference is not an option, then the choice of the ἵνα + Subjunctive construction makes the subject clear. “That THEY may know you.”
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi

Scott Lawson
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Re: John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Post by Scott Lawson » December 16th, 2016, 11:57 am

Stephen et al,

My main question is how can a subjunctive function as an indicative?

Ινα γινωσκωσιν is dubious when it should be factual to make sense of the propositional statement. But since ινα + subjunctive is evidently equal to the infinitive the problem is resolved. But I want to know how this shift developed in hopes that it will shed light on this exception to subjunctives expressing the irrealis mode.

Caragounis' comments seem to move toward an explanation. They at least address a bit of the history of the competition for supremacy between ινα + subjunctive, ινα + indicative and the infinitive.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 17th, 2016, 2:17 am

In terms of why the subjunctive is used, I think it picks up on the notion that in v.2 this eternal life was given to everyone given to him. In other words, I see v.3 as explicating what eternal life is in terms of its purpose, why it was given. (In Aristotelian terms, this is an explication by its "final cause": why something exists.) Eternal life is something given so that those who get it will know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent. Purpose is handled well with ἵνα + subjunctive.

I hope this helps; there's a lot going on in your question, and I don't want to get into grammatical differences between two dialects (classical and Koine), which is the way some grammars are written, as I don't think that's what at the core of the issue.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Scott Lawson
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Re: John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Post by Scott Lawson » December 17th, 2016, 12:05 pm

Thanks Stephen and Paul for your help.

Paul, I need more time to work through your thoughts. Again thank you for your help!

Stephen, if I'm understanding you correctly you are saying that John 17:3 is explaining the purpose of everlasting life, which is so that they will have the necessary time to learn about God, to get to know him. This turns the propositions around 180 degrees from how most translators read J17:3. Is that right?
Scott Lawson

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » December 18th, 2016, 12:57 pm

John 17:1 Ταῦτα ἐλάλησεν Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἶπεν· πάτερ, ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα· δόξασόν σου τὸν υἱόν, ἵνα ὁ υἱὸς δοξάσῃ σέ, 2 καθὼς ἔδωκας αὐτῷ ἐξουσίαν πάσης σαρκός, ἵνα πᾶν ὃ δέδωκας αὐτῷ δώσῃ αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 3 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωὴ ἵνα γινώσκωσιν σὲ τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν καὶ ὃν ἀπέστειλας Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν.

It might help to think of ἵνα as a signal that indicates what follows is a presentation of a thought. Cooper[1] compares the following thought to oratio obliqa (indirect speech). We see this more clearly in John 17:3 than the ἵνα clauses in John 17:1-2. The main clause αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωὴ prepares us to expect a presentation of a thought.


[1]Guy Cooper, Attic Greek Syntax, vol. 1, p713, §54.8.0.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

Robert Crowe
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Re: John 17:3 ινα + subjunctive = to an infinitive?

Post by Robert Crowe » December 18th, 2016, 2:54 pm

Scott Lawson wrote:My main question is how can a subjunctive function as an indicative?

Ινα γινωσκωσιν is dubious when it should be factual to make sense of the propositional statement. But since ινα + subjunctive is evidently equal to the infinitive the problem is resolved. But I want to know how this shift developed in hopes that it will shed light on this exception to subjunctives expressing the irrealis mode.

Caragounis' comments seem to move toward an explanation. They at least address a bit of the history of the competition for supremacy between ινα + subjunctive, ινα + indicative and the infinitive.
I see the quandary arising from our tendency to transpose the way the English subjunctive is expressed back into the Greek where it is on a continuum from actuality to probability. The English subjunctive constructed with a modal auxiliary such as 'may' or 'should' puts emphasis on the non-actual end of the spectrum, which is not necessarily the meaning here.

I think the main force of the subjunctive here is to emphasise stative aspect.
Tús maith leath na hoibre.

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