Other Conditional Elements in New Testament Greek -- By: James L. Boyer
GTJ 4:2 (Fall 83) p. 173
Other Conditional Elements
in New Testament Greek
See James L. Boyer, “First-Class Conditions: What Do They Mean?” GTJ 2 (1981) 74-114, “Second-Class Conditions in New Testament Greek,” GTJ 3 (1982) 81-88, “Third (and Fourth) Class Conditions,” GTJ 3 (1982) 163-75.
To conclude the series of studies on conditional sentences, some conditional elements which do not constitute complete conditional sentences or which present some irregularity or secularity of form or meaning are considered.
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There is nothing inherently surprising or improper that in actual usage the recognized patterns for conditional sentences should sometimes become mixed. There are few of these, perhaps only three or four; each of these is doubtful to some degree.
Luke 17:6 shows the first-class pattern in the protasis, εἰ with the present indicative. The apodosis is usually identified as a second-class pattern, ἄν with a secondary indicative, perhaps indicating that Jesus courteously avoided using the full second-class condition, which would have stated very harshly “If you had faith, which you haven’t…,” then continued with the contrary-to-fact result. Although this is a plausible and possible explanation, the present writer prefers1 to consider this a simple first-class condition, stating a logical connection between the protasis and apodosis without any indication of censure or praise. The imperfect indicative with ἄν then is understood as a potential indicative which states the result which might be expected to follow: “If you have faith you can expect impossible things.”
John 8:39 is another example in which a first-class protasis, εἰ with indicative, is mixed with a second-class apodosis using a secondary indicative. The early textual tradition is somewhat confused, part
GTJ 4:2 (Fall 83) p. 174
of it supporting a first-class apodosis. If the imperfect ἐποιεῖτε is accepted, with or without the particle ἄν, it clearly is a second-class apodosis. In this instance the explanations suggested for the previous example will hardly work; a courteous softening of the rebuke can hardly be applicable in the light of the following verses, and the apodosis is not easily understood as a potential indicative. Rather, it seems better to understand that wh...
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