An Alternative Explanation For The Alleged ‘Imperatival’ Participles Of Romans 12:9-21 -- By: Jeffrey S. Lamp

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 61:2 (NA 2010)
Article: An Alternative Explanation For The Alleged ‘Imperatival’ Participles Of Romans 12:9-21
Author: Jeffrey S. Lamp


An Alternative Explanation For The Alleged ‘Imperatival’ Participles Of Romans 12:9-21

Jeffrey S. Lamp

Summary

The participles of Romans 12:9-21 have occasioned much discussion among grammarians and commentators. The primary debate concerns whether the participles are functioning imperativally or whether they might be connected with a finite verb in the context of the passage. This article suggests that the participles might indeed be connected with a finite verb, but one that is unexpressed in the passage.

1. Introduction

The participles of Romans 12:9-21 have fostered much discussion concerning their function. Many recent commentaries on Romans have concluded that the participles are functioning imperativally, and virtually all English translations render them in this way. This paper will re-examine the function of these so-called ‘imperatival participles’, with the dictum of A. T. Robertson in view: ‘In general it may be said that no participle should be explained this way [imperativally] that can properly be connected with a finite verb.’1 Robertson himself concluded that the participles in Romans 12:9-21 could not be connected with any verb in the context and thus function imperativally. The present discussion will suggest that the participles are indeed contextually dependent on another verb, but one that is unexpressed in the passage: the imperative copula.

This discussion will first list the proposed solutions for the usage of the participles in Romans 12:9-21.2 The present proposal will then be stated, followed by several considerations in support of the proposal.

2. Previous Solutions

These participles are explained in one of two general ways.3 One position sees them as dependent on some finite verb in the context.4 Differences between solutions in this position centre on the identification of the verb upon which the participles are dependent. The other frequently advanced position is that the participles are ‘imperatival’. Some with this position argue that the NT usage is shaped by Semitic influence,5 while others suggest that the NT usage is a natural development in the Greek language itself.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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