Gal. 3:24

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sat May 12 08:48:33 EDT 2001

At 2:37 AM +0000 5/12/01, Mark Wilson wrote:
>Gal. 3:24
>A commentary I am reading states that the subjunctive of DIKAIWQWMEN
>is "forced" due to the use of the hINA. Further, this author goes on to
>argue that there is no element of uncertainty or doubt here, and suggests
>the translation:
>"in order that WE WOULD BE justified by faith"
>What is the Indicative counterpart to the hINA here, and why, if the writer
>did indeed
>mean to not imply any uncertainty, did he not use this Indicative
>counterpart? (sorry for all those negatives!)
>(I am here trying to avoid a theological discussion, so I guess my hope is
>you "assume for the sake of argument" this commentary's position is a valid

While I've read the other responses to this question, I have the impression
that are valid without getting to the question that Mark is really raising
here, so let me separate a couple issues:

(1) Yes, it's true that hINA commits the writer to use of a subjunctive,
but hINA + subjunctive clauses in Hellenistic Greek run the gamut from
simple noun clauses or equivalents of an infinitive to adverbial clauses of
purpose and result.

(2) One of the misleading(?) features of Koine purpose and result
constructions is that they seem to be practically, if not in fact,
interchangeable, so that, for example, the three formulations


may all mean either "for us to get justified" (i.e. "with the intent that
we should be justified") or "with the result that we are justified."--and
the third one, under the right circumstances, might even become the
equivalent of a substantive (what a gerund is in English): "our being

(3) The essential assimilation of purpose and result constructions in
Hellenistic Greek sometimes leaves the interpreter (and here I DON'T mean
the theological exegete) or translator unsure whether the author's intent
was to express purpose or to express result--or even whether the author had
in mind any distinction between purpose and result. Thus, if one determines
to his/her own satisfaction that the phrasing of the hINA clause in 3:24
was intended to express result rather than purpose, one might prefer to
"translate" it as "So the Torah has turned out in fact to be our
teacher-aide on our way to Christ, and the end-result of this is that we
are justified/made-righteous."

I'm not sure but what that's even what Paul meant to say. On the other
hand, it may not, but I do think that it is a degree of vagueness in
Hellenistic Greek grammar that makes the clear understanding of this
passage more difficult for us than we would like it to be.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at

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