τί followed by Aorist Subjunctive or Future Indicative

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MGV Hoffman
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τί followed by Aorist Subjunctive or Future Indicative

Post by MGV Hoffman » December 29th, 2011, 2:23 am

(My question is actually more specific, and I am just not confident enough with my Greek to make a definitive conclusion. Any help is appreciated.)

In Mark 10.17, the guy runs up to Jesus and says, "Good Teacher, τί ποιήσω in order that I might inherit eternal life?"
Every analysis scheme I can find (I have 4 different ones in BibleWorks) except one (http://en.katabiblon.com/us/index.php?t ... terlin=off) treat ποιήσω as an Aor Subjn and do not even offer the possibility of it as a Future Indicative.
The difference is slight, but I would understand the subjunctive along the lines of "What should I do...?" With the indicative, I understand him to be expecting a more specific answer to the question, "What shall I do?"

I searched for constructions of τί followed by either the Aor Subjn or the Fut Indic, and there are plenty examples of both. That made me wonder why the Fut Indic is not considered in Mark 10.17.
I noticed, however, that perhaps there is something unique going on specifically with the verb ποιεω in the 1st person. I searched for constructions of τί followed by ποιεω in the 1st person, and every instance of the 1st plural is in the Aor Subjn (except for the somewhat odd present Indic in John 11.47).
Is the distinction between Aor Subjn and Fut Indic worth considering?
Is this an instance where where τί followed by ποιεω in the 1st person in questions should always be treated as Subjn on the basis of the unambiguous instances of 1st plural Aor Subjn?

Thanks for your responses.
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cwconrad
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Re: τί followed by Aorist Subjunctive or Future Indicative

Post by cwconrad » December 29th, 2011, 9:07 am

mgvh wrote:(My question is actually more specific, and I am just not confident enough with my Greek to make a definitive conclusion. Any help is appreciated.)

In Mark 10.17, the guy runs up to Jesus and says, "Good Teacher, τί ποιήσω in order that I might inherit eternal life?"
Every analysis scheme I can find (I have 4 different ones in BibleWorks) except one (http://en.katabiblon.com/us/index.php?t ... terlin=off) treat ποιήσω as an Aor Subjn and do not even offer the possibility of it as a Future Indicative.
The difference is slight, but I would understand the subjunctive along the lines of "What should I do...?" With the indicative, I understand him to be expecting a more specific answer to the question, "What shall I do?"

I searched for constructions of τί followed by either the Aor Subjn or the Fut Indic, and there are plenty examples of both. That made me wonder why the Fut Indic is not considered in Mark 10.17.
I noticed, however, that perhaps there is something unique going on specifically with the verb ποιεω in the 1st person. I searched for constructions of τί followed by ποιεω in the 1st person, and every instance of the 1st plural is in the Aor Subjn (except for the somewhat odd present Indic in John 11.47).
Is the distinction between Aor Subjn and Fut Indic worth considering?
Is this an instance where where τί followed by ποιεω in the 1st person in questions should always be treated as Subjn on the basis of the unambiguous instances of 1st plural Aor Subjn?

Thanks for your responses.
Text: Mark 10:17 Καὶ ἐκπορευομένου αὐτοῦ εἰς ὁδὸν προσδραμὼν εἷς καὶ γονυπετήσας αὐτὸν ἐπηρώτα αὐτόν· διδάσκαλε ἀγαθέ, τί ποιήσω ἵνα ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω;

It's an interesting question. My thinking about it is: (1) that it's worth considering although I suspect most readers wouldn't give it a second thought, and (2) that a deliberative subjunctive ("Should I do this?") is more a question put to oneself, whereas a future indicative is more a question put to another, "What am I going to do?" But, going one step further, it strikes me that this might even better be understood as an indirect question; how so? It might be understood as "(Tell me) what I am to do." That too would require a subjunctive.

Of course there's a dubious but not uncommon assumption held by many, that the sigmatic future indicative derives from the sigmatic aorist subjunctive, but the linguistic historians, so far as I'm aware, don't support that notion.

The upshot of my thinking: the initial appeal of the future indicative has subsided in favor of the aorist subjunctive reading. Whether that's better understood as a shared deliberative construction ("I ask myself what I am to do? What do you say?") or an indirect question -- "(Tell me") what should I do?" -- is not readily determined. I guess we can kick this around a bit and see what people think.

I take this opportunity to reiterate my ever-deeper conviction that we understand these texts immediately and that our endeavors to analyze how they work are altogether secondary to our understanding what the texts mean.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Stephen Carlson
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Re: τί followed by Aorist Subjunctive or Future Indicative

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 29th, 2011, 10:05 am

cwconrad wrote:Of course there's a dubious but not uncommon assumption held by many, that the sigmatic future indicative derives from the sigmatic aorist subjunctive, but the linguistic historians, so far as I'm aware, don't support that notion.
That's my understanding too. For example, Andrew L. Sihler:
Sihler, New Comparative Grammar, 556 § 500.1b wrote:A theory once more widely endorsed than it is nowadays traces the G future to a short-vowel subjunctive of the σ-aorist. The form and meaning accord tolerably well, but these similarities are accidental. Roots of certain shapes reveal the formal distinction clearly, ...
The example that Sihler uses is τείνω, τενῶ, ἔτεινα.

Stephen
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

MGV Hoffman
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Re: τί followed by Aorist Subjunctive or Future Indicative

Post by MGV Hoffman » December 29th, 2011, 3:02 pm

Thank you, cwconrad. Your post does make good sense of the alternatives, and I can see where the subjunctive might be preferred.
Maybe there is something to the 1st person questions: when posed to one's self they tend to be deliberative; when posed to others there may be more in the nature of indicative requesting actual advice.
Ultimately, as you note, the sense is clear either way, and there is not much distinction between them. Still, the analytical schemes might do better to offer both options.
Thanks again.
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Iver Larsen
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Re: τί followed by Aorist Subjunctive or Future Indicative

Post by Iver Larsen » December 30th, 2011, 1:59 am

It is an interesting question, Mr./Mrs./Miss mgvh, so let me kick it around a bit more.

I doubt the question can be resolved completely syntactically by asking whether the construction is a question or not and who is being questioned. It is true that if one askes oneself, then the question involves doubt, and a subjunctive would be expected. It may be the degree of uncertainly that dictates the form to be used.

John 11:47 was mentioned:
Τί ποιοῦμεν ὅτι οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος πολλὰ ποιεῖ σημεῖα;
We might have expected a subjunctive here: What shall we do, because this man is doing many signs?
The use of the present may indicate that the speaker is not in doubt about what should be done, but rather saying: Why haven't we done anything about it yet? It would then function more as a rhetorical question: Why aren't you/we doing what needs to be done?

I assume the subjunctive option for Matt 19:26 and Mark 10:17 is influenced by the subjunctive used in similar constructions in the plural in places like Luke 3:10,12,14, John 6:28.

There is an interesting pair in Luke 16:3-4

3. εἶπεν δὲ ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὁ οἰκονόμος, Τί ποιήσω, ὅτι ὁ κύριός μου ἀφαιρεῖται τὴν οἰκονομίαν ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ;...
This is clearly subjunctive, because he is asking himself not knowing what is best to do.

4. ἔγνων τί ποιήσω, ἵνα ὅταν μετασταθῶ ἐκ τῆς οἰκονομίας δέξωνταί με εἰς τοὺς οἴκους αὐτῶν.
I know what I am going to do so that when...

In the last one, I would interpret it as future, because there is no longer any uncertainty, similar to Luke 12:18. Michael Holmes GNT has interpreted both Luke 16:4 and 12:18 as future, but AGNT has the first as subjunctive.
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