future indicatives as imperatives
behrman at email.unc.edu
Mon Jan 15 19:09:38 EST 2001
The Didache gives a lot of orders, a lot of them are negative, and a
lot of them use the future indicative. Some are quotations of the LXX.
Thus: OU FONEUSEIS, OU MOIXEUSEIS, OU PAIDOFQORHSEIS, OU PORNEUSEIS,
It also gives positive commands using the future inicative: AGAPHSEIS
TON QEON TON POIHSANTA SE, e.g.
Moreover, it also uses regular imperative forms (esp. for positive
My inclination is to translate these all as imperatives: e.g., for the
negatives above, "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not sodomize
children, to not engage in sexual immorality." And for the positive:
"Love the God who made you."
But one of my grad students who's reading over all my drafts for me,
and whose judgment i trust, is pushing me to go for the more conventional,
"You shall not..." and "You shall..." Her point is that this helps
preserve the allusive character of the injunctions (i.e., it sounds more
like BIble language); my point is that I never talk that way (I always
say, "Shut the blasted door," never "You shall shut the blasted door"; or
"Don't stay up too late," never "You shall not stay up too late") ((and
also that the repetitions of the shalls and shall notes gets rather
Does anyone else want to weigh in?
-- Bart Ehrman
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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