Conjugation of "forgive" in 1Jn 1:9

Grammar questions which are not related to any specific text.
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Kelly Larsen
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Conjugation of "forgive" in 1Jn 1:9

Post by Kelly Larsen »

What is the proper conjugation of the verb ἀφῇ in 1 John 1:9? Stephen Smalley, in his commentary on 1 John (WBC series), conjugates it as present tense, but other resources I have conjugate it as an aorist subjunctive along with καθαρίσῃ. I can't find a good resource to verify the proper conjugation. Any help?
Bob Nyberg
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Re: Conjugation of "forgive" in 1Jn 1:9

Post by Bob Nyberg »

It seems like whenever I see "ἵνα" in scripture the verb following it is usually subjunctive. For that reason aorist subjunctive seems reasonable to me.
Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Conjugation of "forgive" in 1Jn 1:9

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

The present subjunctive would be ἀφιῇ. The ι (iota) is part of the present stem. ἀφῇ without the iota is aorist subjunctive. Any grammar which includes paradigms should have this, usually under the simplex form ἵημι.

I have no idea why Smalley would parse it as a present. It's either an outright error, or perhaps he's reading a different text (i.e., it's a text critical issue).
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
Hefin J. Jones
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Re: Conjugation of "forgive" in 1Jn 1:9

Post by Hefin J. Jones »

My electronic text of Smalley has its own textual issue at this point, but it is fairly clear that he's made an error re. the parsing (not conjugating) of the verb. He's not got another text in front of him.
Hefin Jones

instructor in New Testament - Koinonia Theological Seminary, Davao
Louis L Sorenson
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Re: Conjugation of "forgive" in 1Jn 1:9

Post by Louis L Sorenson »


Look at Smyth's 'A Greek Grammar for Colleges', §777, ... Monographs in the section 'Irregular Mi Verbs'. The verb you are inquiring about is ἄφιημι which is a compound of ἀπό and ἵημι. Smyth §777 gives the inflexions of ἴημι. Smyth is a historical grammar that gives mostly Attic and Homeric forms; but the verb ἴημι in Koine Greek (ca. 100 A.D.) identical to that of Attic Greek.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Conjugation of "forgive" in 1Jn 1:9

Post by cwconrad »

For what it's worth (not much, I guess), way back in the course of my second year of Greek (I was reading mostly Homer at the time), I made up a mnemonic for myself to recognize inflected forms containing the verbal base (root) from ἵεημι/ἱέναι: If you subtract prefix(es), augment (making allowances for the rough breathing), mood-markers (ο/ε, ω/η, οι/ι), and personal (or participial or infinitive) endings, and what's left is -η- or -ε- (-ἡ- or -ἑ-), then you've got a compound of ἵημι. Prior to "inventing" that mnemonic I used to get stumped by aorist forms like ἐφεῖτο, ἀφέθησαν or ἀφῇ. Pretty soon I was recognizing those forms right away when I encountered them in new texts that I was reading.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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