[B-Greek] Athematic Aorist Subjunctive
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Fri Oct 5 11:24:24 EDT 2007
On Sep 30, 2007, at 3:12 PM, Stephen Baldwin wrote:
> No sooner mentioned Smyth and the Morphology of Biblical Greek,
> than a query has arisen.
> I'm perplexed at Mounce's listings in MBG. In ss44.2c he states
> that athematic aorists are "Root Aorists" in that the ending is
> appended directly to the root with no connecting vowel, tense
> formative etc.
This is a different -- and, it seems to me, infelicitous, use of the
term "root aorist" from the use with which I am familiar: an aorist
stem that clearly shows the original verb root without distinctive
tense-additive forms. EMAQON is a "root aorist" because it shows the
root MAQ of the verb MANQANW, whereas EMACESAMHN does not show the
root MAC of the verb MACOMAI.
As for "athematic," that term will ordinarily apply to forms that
attach verb-endings directly to the verb stem; that will NOT account
for ALL the forms of any verb whatsoever. Most commonly the term is
used for -MI verbs in distinction to -W verbs and refers
fundamentally to the present-tense forms that have no "thematic"
vowel O/E linking the stem and the personal ending.
> He also states that hISTHMI is the only athematic verb that has
> both first and second aorist forms.
Perhaps that's true if one limits the database to the GNT. I'm rather
wary of assertions about what either "all" verbs do or what "only
one" verb does.
> Clearly in the subj., a connecting vowel is used. However, when he
> comes to discuss the aorist subjunctive (ss52), he lists *STA, *QE,
> and *DO as having both first and second aorist forms: Thus: DIDWMI
> has a 1A-A-Subj form of DWSW and a 2A-A-Subj of DW. (DWSW is
> identical to the F-A-I form.)
Within the GNT we find "first aorist" forms only 2x among 24 aorists
of DIDWMI: DWSHi (John 17:2) and DWSWMEN (Rev. 19:7). They are not
really standard forms.
> So I guess my question is: Are the two forms of athematic aorist
> subjunctive mentioned in MBG [a] a mistake or [b] badly described
> (in that he lists them without sufficient explanation) or [c]
> something else? (I am suspicious because I've found errors in the
> paradigms at the back of BBG too...)
I'd say "badly described." One thing that needs to be borne in mind
is that the NT texts were composed by numerous individuals, some more
schooled (literally) in Greek than others. The Greek of the GNT is
anything but uniform.
> I did consult my Smyth who did describe athematic 2A-A-Subj
> (ss757) but who lists nothing subjunctive under athematic 1A-A/M in
> ss755. (Of course the information might be hiding elsewhere...)
The "athematic first aorist" seen in the forms cited above (DWSHi and
DWSWMEN) are really anomalous, although intelligible. I think they
probably would not have been written by native Greek speakers/writers
and are not found in Classical Attic texts. They are intelligible
because one readily discerns the root DW and an S that could be an
aorist marker. My guess is that these forms are based on analogy from
the future stem DWS- on the assumption that a future stem in DWS-
ought to be identical to an aorist stem in DWS- derived from a
In my opinion a student needs to gain instant recognition of endings,
know the tense-sign and modal infixes, and have a mastery of the
principal parts of irregular verbs. One doesn't really need to
memorize whole paradigms of athematic verbs, although it's worth
looking at the paradigms that show partial assimilation to thematic
inflection, as in the imperfect singular of DIDWMI (EDIDOUN <EDIDO-
ON, EDIDOUS < EDIDO-ES, EDIDOU < EDIDO-E) and TIQHMI (ETIQEIS < ETIQE-
ES, ETIQEI < ETIQE-E
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Ret)
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