[B-Greek] Numeral anomalies in optative aorist.

Tjerk Muller tjerk_muller at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 7 14:52:02 EDT 2005


Numeral anomalies in optative aorist.

Although several discussion threads discuss the aorist
optative as such, I have found none that cover the
following phenomenon.

In a number of instances, the aorist optative knows a
3rd person singular where a 3rd person plural would be
in place. 

For instance 1 Thess. 3:11 "Now may our God and Father
himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you."
»may he direct: kateuthunai, 3sgl.opt.aor.act. -
katheuthunoo« (All translations are from RSV unless
indicated otherwise). 
Similarly, with a reversal in both subjects, in 2
Thess. 16f. we find "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ
himself, and God our Father (...) comfort your hearts
and establish them in every good work and word."
»may he comfort: parakalesai, 3sgl.opt.aor.act. -
parakaleoo// may he establish: stèrixai,
3sgl.opt.aor.act. - stèrizoo«
In both instances, the verb is 3rd person singular,
while the prayer adresses more than one.

An article by a lay bible teacher brought this to my
attention recently. The author suggested a theological
explanation for the phenomenon.
That seemed somewhat farfetched to me, so I sought for
(and found) other occurrences of 3rd person singular
optatives, where 3rd person plurals would be in place.

Such as the end of 1 Peter 1:2 "May grace and peace be
multiplied to you." »may be multiplied: plèthuntheiè,
3sgl.opt.aor.pass. - plèthunoo« (comp. 2 Peter 1:2). 
Jude, verse 2, holds "May mercy,peace and love be
multiplied to you." »may be multiplied: idem«  

Likewise 1 Thess. 5:23 "And may your spirit and soul
and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of
our Lord Jesus Christ." »may be kept: tèrètheiè,
3sgl.opt.aor.pass. - tèreoo«

The question is whether this is a structural
phenomenon or all instances are cases in itself.  
Such is the way Earl Richard treats the passages from
Thessalonians. 
Heinterprets 'holoklèron humoon' (yours entirely;
'sound' in RSV) as a substantive phrase, serving as
the subject of the sentence, to which 'spirit, soul,
and body' are attached as appositions. This results in
the rendering "and may your whole being - spirit, soul
and body - be kept blameless" (Earl Richard, First and
Second Thessalonians, Sacra Pagina vol. 11, Minnesota,
The Liturgical Press, 1995, 285).

Richard suggests a textual evolution of 1 Thess. 3:11.
An original prayer to God as Father of both believers
and the Lord Jesus ("May God himself, who is our
Father and that of our Lord Jesus") would have been
modified later into one to God and Jesus. (Richard,
Thessalonians, 165).

However, it is noteworthy that nowhere in the NT do we
find any 3rd person plural optative aorist where
either wish or prayer is concerned. 
This might suggest a grammatical reason why in
wishes/prayers multiple entities are referred to by
3rd person singular.

I'm interested in whether such grammatical reasons for
the optative aorist exists. If this topic is to be
found in in the archives, the exact location would be
welcome.  


T.W. Muller is currently working on a masters thesis
in Theology at the Univesity of Utrecht on the subject
of Gods violence towards His trustees, Abraham -
Jeremiah - Job.




		
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