subjunctive versus indicative.

Brian Swedburg brian at
Wed Jan 22 16:57:11 EST 2003

on 1/22/03 7:15 AM, Carl W. Conrad at cwconrad at wrote:

> At 6:18 AM -0600 1/22/03, <greek-list at> wrote:
>> How does one tell the difference between the various subjunctive forms and
>> those in the indicative that are exactly the same?
>> For example, LUH is both the present middle/passive indicative, 2nd person
>> singular, but also the present subjunctive 3rd person singular. I have a
>> feeling the answer is simply context?
> In this instance, at least, your gut feeling is right on target. However,
> the context is usually quite sufficient to indicate which of the ambiguous
> forms you're dealing with.

Carl, Matthew & List,
   I had class in Philippians a couple summers ago and was responsible to
analyze all the verbal data.   I have cut and pasted (and adapted!) an
excerpt from that paper which pertained to the subjunctive.  It suggests
nothing other than Paul's usage in that letter, and often I am not dogmatic.
I toss it out because in the case of Philippians, I believe the data shows
that Paul typically uses the subjunctive to elucidate the purpose of the
main clause.  has anyone done this sort of study in other letters or NT
writings and authors?  I am aware that we will not all agree on syntactical
and discourse categories, and am not terribly concerned if you agree with my
'labels'. But, I am interested in what you have found that is compatible or
in conflict with what I offer.

I hope this grid comes out readable for you all!

The function of the subjunctive mood in the letter

Subjunctive         Address    Tense        Function
An + Subj           2:23        Aorist    5th class condition dependent

Ei pwv + Subj     3:11       Aorist    Purpose/why? Dependent clause

Ei + Subj           3:12        Aorist    Purpose/why?  Dependent clause

Hortatory Subj  3:15        Present    Imperatival

Ina + Subj          1:26; 2:19; 2:28;     Present    Purpose/motive
Dependent Clause
Ina + Subj
2:10; 2:11; 2:15; 2:27; 2:28; 2:30; 3:8;. 3:9    Aorist    Purpose
Dependent Clause

Ina + Subj      1:9 & 1:10    Present    Epexegetical OR Dirct Obj. OR

Oti + Subj          1:27    Present    Purpose? Imperatival?

   15 of the 19 occurrences of the subjunctive mood are textbook dependent
INA clauses, serving to identify a motive or purpose for the main clause.
While this does not mean that looking only to the subjunctives in the letter
will clarify the purposes of the main clauses (Infinitives and prepositions
serve this purpose as well), it does recognize that, with only 2 exceptions
(2:23, a conditional clause & 3:15, an imperatival hortatory subjunctive),
the subjunctives in this letter serve to elucidate purpose in the main
clause. Such consistent use on Paul¹s part provides valuable exegetical

Thanks for the dialogue,
Brian P. Swedburg
Student (Almost done!) 
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the B-Greek mailing list