The Revisers And The General Supposition. -- By: George W. Gilmore

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 047:186 (Apr 1890)
Article: The Revisers And The General Supposition.
Author: George W. Gilmore


The Revisers And The General Supposition.

George W. Gilmore

The following study is submitted with all deference to the scholarly attainments of the body of men who revised the translation of the New

Testament, and with due appreciation of the difficulties of their task. It is acknowledged that principles may have guided them in dealing with the particular form of condition we are to discuss in this paper which to us are unapparent. It is possible that a subtle understanding of the text which has not made itself known to us was present to them; and that what looks like inconsistency and a lack of perception of the difference between future and general suppositions is really only a profounder knowledge of Greek syntax. If such is the case, we apologize in advance, and shall suffer, in the disapproval of scholars, the consequences of our rashness in questioning the accuracy of a part of their work. Hence we offer this examination with the desire to contribute to more accurate knowledge of the New Testament, and not in a hypercritical spirit of faultfinding.

Every student of Greek is aware that there are two kinds of conditional sentence in which the forms of the protasis may be exactly the same. These are what Professor Goodwin (whom we follow closely) calls the “vivid future” and “present general “suppositions. Both take ἐάν and the subjunctive in the protasis; but the former takes a future form in the apodosis, the latter requires a present form expressive of continuance or repetition. It is evident, therefore, that when we find a protasis containing a subjunctive joined with ἐάν we can determine whether it is future vivid or present general (in Hellenistic Greek also past general, since the optative is little used) only by noting the tense meaning of the apodosis. We must also take cognizance of the fact that temporal and conditional relative protases containing ἄν can be and are to be classified under those forms of condition. One point further. It is a principle of classic Greek that “in ordinary protasis the (present) subjunctive refers to the future; if the supposition is general… . the subjunctive is indefinite in its time: “ and that “in ordinary protasis the (aorist) subjunctive refers to the future; in general suppositions … it refers to indefinite time represented as present.”3 That is, the sense of the condition is determined by the tense meaning of the apodosis. In other words, there is no ground in classic Greek for translating an aorist subjunctive in a general supposition by a future....

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