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Greek third person imperatives and "let"

Greek grammar

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#1 EricC



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Posted Yesterday, 12:51 PM

I am wondering what resources are available in Accordance that address this topic. Below is a revised section of an e-mail I sent to a friend for advice. Maybe there are others here who also would like to chime in.


My question: Is there any objective criterion to distinguish whether the Greek third person imperative is best rendered "let" or is best rendered more forcefully, with something like "must" or "should"? Or, must the translator rely on the context alone? (I have a hunch there is no objective criterion, but I'd like to read what others have written on this, if they have.)


E.g., Jas 5:20 has this (KJV): "Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way …" (TR-Scr: γινωσκέτω ὅτι ὁ ἐπιστρέψας ἁμαρτωλὸν ἐκ πλάνης ὁδοῦ). This clearly is not a command such as "He must know" or "He is required to know" or "he should know".


However, there are other passages where a translation that communicates merely that something is desired or permitted seems too weak. I think Jas 5:13-14 has verbs that are stronger than desirable or permissible actions. The folks spoken of there should pray, should sing psalms, and should call the elders. The third person imperatives there are not denoting just suggestions of desirable or permissible actions, but things that must be done in order to obey God's Word.


Thus my question: Is there any objective criterion to distinguish this? Where can I learn more?


Do you know of any resources that discuss this? I have Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics in Accordance, but I did searches for "third person imperative(s)" and didn't find anything. I also have the Theological Journals in Accordance, so maybe there's some article in there that would shed light on this. But if there is, I'm not smart enough to find it :) [I have never figured out how to search the Journals efficiently and find what I'm looking for.] I'm open to resources not in Accordance, too, if you know of them.


I may not be able to respond to your comments quickly here in the forum, but please know that I appreciate your input. Thank you.

#2 דָנִיאֶל



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Posted Yesterday, 02:41 PM

Wallace makes mention of this under his treatment of the command imperative under section B.


I did a quick Research query for : let him imperative


That showed up Stevens, Burton, BDF and Wallace.




Sola lingua bona est lingua mortua

ἡ μόνη ἀγαθὴ γλῶσσα γλῶσσα νεκρὰ ἐστιν

lišanu ēdēnitu damqitu lišanu mītu


"Du stammst vom Herrn Adam und der Herrin Eva ab", sagte Aslan. "Und das ist zugleich Ehre genug, um das Häupt des ärmsten Bettlers zu erheben, und genug, um die Schultern des größten Kaisers auf Erden zu beugen. Sei zufrieden." Aslan, Die Chroniken von Narnia, Prinz Kaspian von Narnia. CS Lewis. Übersetzt von Wolfgang Holbein und Christian Rendel.


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#3 Mike Thigpen

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Posted Yesterday, 08:25 PM

I don't have the Theological Journals but I believe this article is likely in there and might be the kind of resource you're looking for.

James L. Boyer, " A Classification of Imperatives: A Statistical Study" Grace Theological Journal 8.1 (1987) 35-54.

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