Where the world comes to study the Bible

The Imperatival Participle in the New Testament

Related Media

Editor’s note: Travis Williams was one of my interns for the 2005–06 school year at Dallas Seminary. He read this paper at the Evangelical Theological Society’s Southwestern Regional meeting on March 24, 2006. It interacts quite well with the primary and secondary literature, and unravels the mystery of the imperatival participle in the New Testament. Happy reading!
                                                                                                                                            Daniel B. Wallace

I. Introduction

One of the more neglected and therefore misunderstood grammatical functions in the New Testament (NT) is the imperatival participle. On a brief perusal of some of the major Greek grammars, one will come to discover that the usage is normally given merely a few passing comments and is often relegated to a place of insignificance. Whether this is due to the rarity with which it occurs or simply because of its seeming lack of exegetical importance, few have ventured into serious study on this grammatical anomaly. Even among those who have taken up the challenge, the results are somewhat inconclusive. While this is not to deny the benefit that has been gained from previous efforts, there has yet to be any kind of closure on the matter in the way of a definitive work on the subject. For this reason, the usage remains somewhat enigmatic and as a result often miscommunicated. While such a fact may appear to be only a minute detail in the overall scope of biblical studies, we would caution against approaching any aspect of Scripture with the slightest hint of flippancy. In fact, the admonition of D. A. Carson rings true in this instance. He warns: “Make a mistake in the interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s plays, falsely scan a piece of Spenserian verse, and there is unlikely to be an entailment of eternal consequence; but we cannot lightly accept a similar laxity in the interpretation of Scripture. We are dealing with God’s thoughts: we are obligated to make the greatest pains to understand them truly and to explain them clearly.”2 The goal of this paper is to do just that. And while we are not so naïve to think that this paper will bring resolution to all of the unresolved questions surrounding this syntactical category, it is our hope that it will add something of benefit to the discussion.

Our attempt to flesh out the significance of the participle’s imperatival function consists of a four-fold objective. A separate section will be devoted to each. We will begin by examining the matter of validity, an issue that serves as a precursor to any discussion on the subject. Due to the fact that the usage is shrouded in obscurity some have questioned its legitimacy. For this reason, our first objective will be to determine whether it is proper to regard the imperatival participle as a valid syntactical category. If validity can be established, we will turn our attention to a second question—development. Throughout the history of discussion, there have been numerous theories pertaining to how participle came to take on an imperatival force. Our second intention is to test each proposal in light of the available data and to construct a history of origins through our own diachronic examination of the evidence. After establishing where the function came from, we will shift our focus to more pragmatic issues. Our third objective is related to how the usage is located. Often it seems as if one is left to his or her own inclinations to determine if a particular participle is a genuinely imperatival. Rarely are guidelines laid down to help direct the interpreter. Thus, we will attempt to remedy this problem by assembling principles to aid in the process of location. Finally, having discussed validity, development, and identification, the final objective will be to determine the meaning carried by the function. While most assume a difference in the semantics between the participle and the finite imperative, this assumption must be tested in order to ascertain exactly what is being communicated by the participial form.

But before entering into the specifics of this syntactical category we must first set the groundwork by defining exactly what is being discussed, looking into how the subject has been treated in the past, and suggesting a few modifications with regard to previous studies.

A. Defining of Terms

To fully grasp the issues at hand, it is imperative (no pun intended) that the form and function being analyzed is clearly articulated. The first matter that must be addressed is the definition of terms. In identifying the function there are three primary points of recognition: contextual, grammatical, and semantic. For our purposes, an “imperatival participle”3 is a participle which (a) appears where a finite imperative might have been expected, (b) is grammatically independent of any finite verb (i.e., neither modifying any preceding or following finite form and apart from the elision of any periphrastic phrase),4 and (c) which carries an imperatival force. Thus, the imperatival usage is a specific function of the participle, while the form remains unchanged.

B. History of Study

Having defined exactly what will be discussed, our attention turns to how the topic has been treated throughout the history of discussion. One of the first major treatments of the subject reached Western scholarship through G. B. Winer’s monumental grammar Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Sprachidioms als sichere Grundlage der neutestamentlichen Exegese bearbeitet.5 Of the twenty pages devoted to the participle, one-fourth were given to a refutation of the idea that the form could carry an imperatival force apart from another finite verb. While allowing for the usage among later Byzantine writers,6 his treatment attempted to point out the fallaciousness of viewing the function as a valid NT category. Chastising interpreters for assuming the usage, Winer attempted to show that such instances can rather be explained either through a connection with a finite verb in close proximity, or through the author’s state of exuberance that carries him away in his thought (i.e., anacoluthon).7 Thus, the entirety of his study was centered around one question—validity.

Between the time of Winer and the efforts of those who followed, a significant discovery was made that changed the way grammarians viewed not only the participle, but Greek grammar in general. With the publication of his Bibelstudien (“Bible Studies”) (1895), Adolph Deissmann revolutionized the study of the NT. By demonstrating the commonality between the NT and the papyri, Deissmann rendered all previous lexical works obsolete. But “what Deissmann did for lexicography, [James H.] Moulton did for grammar.”8 Through his own study of these ancient texts, Moulton set forth the first challenge to the conclusions of Winer. In his Prolegomena (1906) he maintained the validity of the function based on parallels from the papyri.9 This understanding shifted the paradigm in such a way that all other treatments after him, whether viewing his arguments in a positive or negative light, have been in agreement at this point (e.g., Robertson, BDF, Zerwick, Moule).10

However, not only did Moulton change the direction of the study by essentially establishing the imperatival participle as a legitimate syntactical category, he also made significant contribution to an area that he had been given much thought to that point—the development of the usage. He was the first to suggest genuine Hellenistic development. This view held sway for nearly half a century.

It was not until the work of David Daube (1946) that the conclusions of Moulton were questioned.11 While in agreement with Moulton on the issue of validity, Daube and Moulton split company on the issue of development. As a result of his study of Tannaitic Hebrew, Daube proposed that the usage arose out of a Semitic influence rather than Greek. Noting the parallels in the Mishnah, Daube viewed the participles as “rules of a secondary, derivative, and less absolute than biblical injunctions.”12 This view quickly became the favorite of commentators and grammarians alike.13 It was at this point that questions of legitimacy had faded, and issues of origin and development had taken center stage.

Shortly after the publication of Daube’s article, a response was offered by H. G. Meecham. In an attempt to salvage the view of development proposed by Moulton, Meecham offered further evidence from the papyri to show that the usage, while rare, was a genuine Hellenistic development. But the few extra examples provided from the papyri were not the most significant contribution of his efforts. Rather, his work was the first to suggest any kind of formal method by which the syntactical usage could be identified. Such a system was a welcome arrival considering that in treatments leading up to his study there had been little consensus regarding which passages constituted genuine examples. While subsequent discussions have attempted to supplement these rules (e.g., Thurén), most have used Meecham’s work as the paradigm from which to work.

The first to actually offer a full-scale critique of Daube’s effort was A. P. Salom (1963).14 His study showed that the correspondence between the NT and Tannaitic sources was not as precise as Daube had suspected. Salom upheld the idea that the imperatival participle was a genuine Hellenistic development as he brought in further papyri evidence for support. It was this work that served to shift the paradigm again, only this time back the position of Moulton.

Still, little attention had been given to the area of semantics. This all changed, however, in the early 90s. Three works appeared all within the span of about two years. In his study of the rhetorical practices of 1 Peter (1990), Lauri Thurén concluded that the meaning of the function was ambiguous and that it was chosen as a way of communicating two ideas at once (both a declarative and imperatival sense).15 A year later, two separate treatments of the imperatival clusters in Romans 12 concluded in another direction. Michael Thompson and Neva Miller both proposed that the participial form was used to convey a milder, less direct exhortation. It is this idea that is assumed most often by those who deal with the subject.16

It is at this point that the discussion has seemed to stall out. Perhaps this is due to obscurity of the usage. Or, perhaps most feel that every aspect of the study has been adequately covered. While a consensus seems to have been reached in relation to the legitimacy of the function,17 there is still debate as to how it came about. Furthermore, the guidelines normally used for identification and the more recent views on semantics have not been adequately proven. For this reason, the door remains opens for fresh progress.

C. Modifying Previous Studies

As is obvious from this brief survey, much has been gained from studies that have been undertaken in the past. Yet, what must be understood is that the discussion has not reached its final conclusion. Although it seems as if a consensus is drawing near in some areas, the answers that have been reached are far from complete. If further progress is to continue, a few minor modifications must be made. There are three areas in particular that need addressed.18

1. Methodology

The first area in need of slight modification is the methodology with which the study is approached. The mistake that many have fallen into has been a failure to differentiate between the validity of the imperatival function and the means by which it developed. When the topic is addressed, the various views are often divided up into three categories: (a) those who deny the validity of the function, attributing it instead to anacoluthon or connection with a finite verb (e.g., Winer); (b) those who see a Semitic influence (e.g., Daube); and (c) those who understand the function to be a natural Hellenistic development (e.g., Moulton).19 The problem with this schema is that it mixes two of the levels on which the subject needs to be addressed. The first of these levels begins with the question of validity. It answers the question, “Is the imperatival function a legitimate category within the sphere of the NT?” On this level proponents of both (b) and (c) would be in agreement, while those holding to view (a) would not. Where the former would part company would be at the second level, namely, the means by which the usage developed. By placing (a), (b), and (c) on the same level as parallel theories, it has only helped to confuse the matter.

2. Absence of Definitive Guidelines

A further impasse that has in some sense stalled understanding of the imperatival participle has been the absence of any definitive guidelines by which to identify this grammatical anomaly. For the most part interpreters are left to rely primarily on their own judgment to identify a participle as imperatival. Even where work has been done, improvements could be made. For instance, there has yet to be an attempt to differentiate between types of rules (e.g., grammatical, semantic, contextual, etc.) or to set forth a hierarchical structure to rank the rules in order of importance.

3. Neglect of Semantics

A final place where improvement could be made is in the area of semantics. The importance of this aspect cannot be overstated. If and how semantics differ from the finite imperative has a major impact on how certain passages of Scripture, and even certain books, are interpreted. To properly understand what an author intends to communicate through the participle, the interpreter must not only grasp the usage’s denotative value (i.e., most basic idea communicated by the form) but also its connotative value (i.e., additional sense[s] associated with communicative idea). Even among those who have ventured into this area, little consensus has been reached. For this reason, more effort needs to be focused on finding solutions to this topic of uncertainty.

II. Validity of the Imperatival Participle in the NT

At its most basic level, any treatment of the imperatival participle must begin with the question of validity. Before one assesses the semantic value or exegetical applicability, the legitimacy of the usage must first be established. The issue centers primarily around the existence of a distinct functional category designated as the ‘imperatival participle.’ The matter in question is whether or not the participle can appear where a finite imperative might have been expected, standing independent of any finite verb (i.e., neither modifying any preceding or following finite form and apart from the elision of any periphrastic phrase) while performing an imperatival function. It is this question that we will attempt to answer.

A. The Participle and the Expression of Command

In the NT, there are two ways in which the participle can be used to express a command. First, it can occur in periphrastic constructions.20 “Periphrasis with the participle consists essentially of a participle used in connection with another verb-form [in this case an imperative] in such a way that the two function together as a unit, as a verb-phrase which is equivalent or nearly equivalent to a simple (or ‘monolectic’) verb.”21 Thus, the construction is a round-about way of expressing the imperatival idea that is present in single finite verb. Normally the participle is connected with the imperatival form of either eijmiv (Matt 5:25; Luke 19:17) or givnomai(2 Cor 6:14). The second way in which the participle can be used in a volitional manner is its function in an attendant circumstance construction. Here it is semantically dependent upon a finite verb (in this case an imperative). However, it is translated as if it were coordinate with the main verb, deriving its “mood” (semantically) from that of the imperative.22 While the participle semantically receives less emphasis than the finite form, it does serve as a necessary prerequisite for the verb’s fulfillment, and in this way functions as a demand to be followed (Matt 2:13; Luke 5:14). All will acknowledge the fact that the participle can and does function in these roles in the NT. However, the matter in dispute is whether or not the form can carry an imperatival force while being independent of another finite verb.

B. Examining the Textual Evidence

1. Evidence from the Koine Period
a. Non-literary Papyri

A crucial element in the search for validity is the evidence provided by the non-literary papyri. The significance of these texts lies in the fact that the function’s presence or absence speaks volumes for the legitimacy of the category during the Koine period. In the absence of any specific examples, the case would suffer a damaging blow. However, if it can be established within the concomitant literature, any NT examples move beyond a dubious status to one of likely possibility. This, in fact, is exactly what one finds in an appraisal of the pertinent data. In the papyri both types of independent functions (i.e., independent proper and imperatival) are present. While the frequency with which they occur is somewhat slim, their presence cannot be denied.

(1) Independent Proper Usage

The first type of independent verbal function that shows up in the non-literary papyri is the independent proper usage. In these instances the participle appears where a finite verb might have been expected, functioning independent of any finite form while carrying a declarative force. In this way any sense of dependence is lost, and the participle functions as the main verbal idea in the sentence. Examples of this type of function include:

P.Teb. 14.12-14 (114 B.C.): tw'n ou shmainomevnwi &Hra'ti /parhggelkovte" ejnwvpi[on]th'[i] id /tou' uJpokeimevnou mhnoV" ejn Ptolemaiv (“I gave notice in person to the said H. on the 14th of the current month at P.”)

P.Oxy 2351.58-61 (A.D. 112): ejaVn deV ajdwsitikw'si ejn th'/ ajpodovsi tw'n / prokeimevnwn wJ" ejpavnw dedhvlwtai e~xon- / to" tw'/ Fatrh'/ ejntoV" tou' crovnou eJtevroi" / metamisqoi'n kaiV ejkpravssein aujtouV"(“If the lesses fail to give satisfaction in payment of the said amount as set forth above, it shall be lawful for P. with the said period to relet the land to others and to extract from them…”)

P.Teb. 42.5-8 (114 B.C.): hjdikhmevno" kaquJper- / bolhVn uJp[oV] JArmiuvsio" sunallagmatogravfou / th'" aujth'", oJ gaVr ejgk[a]louvmeno" ejn toV aujto / suneivpanto" Qra/kivda/ jApollwnivou(I have been exceedingly unfairly treated by H., the writer of contracts of the said village. The accused conspired together with T. son of A.”)23

At this stage it is important to point out the significance of the independent proper usage within the papyri evidence. While discussion of further independent usages may seem somewhat irrelevant and unrelated to the topic at hand, by establishing the independent category in general, both functions are validated. If the independent proper usage is established (the validity which most will acknowledge), the imperatival function should logically follow. The reason, as Porter has demonstrated, is because the question becomes not an issue of validity but an issue of pragmatics.24 If, as the above examples display, the participle can be used independent of any finite verb, then the matter in question becomes whether the range of usage can be stretched to include an imperatival force. Since, grammatically, there is nothing that would hinder such a usage, and since the imperatival force is merely a small step from a declarative sense, those independent functions of the participle that appear to carry an imperatival force should be viewed as such. And it is to this function that we now turn.

(2) Imperatival Usage

While the independent proper usage is important, the presence of the imperatival function is crucial for establishing the use’s validity in the NT. Within the papyri, two types of imperatival uses have been suggested: formulaic and non-formulaic. In the case of the former, the participle appears in set formulaic phrases that normally occur at the closing of a letter. On the other hand, the latter are found outside of any type of set phrase and are often used in conjunction with other finite forms.

(i) Formulaic Usage

The first of two types of imperatival constructions present in the papyri is the formulaic usage. This is the more controversial usage and the one that is often afforded the least amount of credibility. Normally occurring at the end of a letter, the phrase ejpimelovmenoi i{vnuJgiaivnte: e~rrwsqe (“Take care of yourselves that you should be fit; Keep well”) (or something similar) was often used as a friendly conclusion. A few illustrations of this function include the following:

P.Grenf. I 35.7-9 (99 B.C.): eJautw'n deV ejpimelov- / menoi i{vnuJgiaivnhte: e~smen ejn Ptolemai>di: / e~rrwsqe(“take care of yourselves so that you might be well. We are in P. Keep well”)

P.Teb. 12:12-13 (114 B.C.): taV a~lla sautou' ejpime[lovmeno"] / i{vnuJg[i]aivnh/": e~rrw[s]o(“for the rest take care of your health. Keep well”)25

These types of constructions were often used as a conventional Hellenistic formula with which one might close a composition. Due to its place at the end of a letter the phrase was capable of both expansion and modification. In fact, Barrett notes that, “it was both possible and fashionable to expand the concluding formula of a letter with more or less conventional phrases which were commonly thrown into participial form.”26 A similar conclusion was reached by Daube, who argues that, “A formula for ending letters is a very special case. Even if the ejpimelovmenoi used in finishing letters should at some date have become so detached from its governing verb that it assumed the character of a real imperative…, this would not entitle us to infer that, in Hellenistic speech, the participle might quite generally stand for the imperative.”27 This point is well taken. Therefore, it would be unwise to build a case for the function’s validity on such a prescribed usage.

(ii) Non-formulaic Usage

The second type of imperatival function is the non-formulaic usage. This particular construction is the more important of the two when it comes to establishing legitimacy. While it is possible to argue that the imperatival force found in the previous examples is due to the carelessness afforded to the grammar of the closing formula, the same objection cannot be raised in non-formulaic instances. Here the participle is used outside of any set phrases or forms. Although the presence of this function was rare in the papyri,28 the legitimacy of the usage cannot be denied. A few examples of this type of construction include:

P.Teb. 59.8-11 (99 B.C.): ejn oi" ejaVn prosdevhsqev / mou ejpitavssontev" moi proqu- / movteron diaV toV a~nwqen fobei'sqai / kaiV sevbesqai toV iJerovn (“so, whatever you may require, command my services, because of old I revere and worship the temple”)

P.Petrie II 19. 1-9 (3rd cent. B.C): ajxiw' / se metaV dehvsew" kaiV iJketeiva" ou{vne- / ka tou' qeou' kaiV tou' kalw'" e~conte" / douV" taV pistaV Mhzavkwi mhqevn me / eijrhkevnai soi kaqaujtou' mhdevpote / a~topon o{vper kaiV ajlhqinoVn e~stin kaiV / wJ" a~n tou'to poihvshi" ajxiwvsa" aujtoVn /me]tapevmyasqaiv me kaiV divesqai / ajpoV th'" fulakh'"(“I request of you with requests and prayers on account of the god indeed who is good, give faithful assurances to M. that I never said anything inappropriate to you against him on account of what is true and if you do this, request of him to send for me and to release me from prison”)

P.Hib. 78.6-13 (244-43 B.C.): e~ti ou kaiV nu'n / ejpimelev" soi e~stw ajpoluv- / ein aujtouV" th'" nu'n eij" jAla- / bavstrwn povlin leitourgiva" / diaV toV mhV ejkpes[ei']n aujtoi'" toV / nu'n leitourgh'sai, kaiV ejaVn / ejk tou' jOxurugcivtou ejpilev- / gwntai Zwivlon ajpoluvsa"(“now, therefore, let there be concern by you to release them from service now in the city of A. because it does not fall to them to serve now, and if they might choose from the O., release Z.”)29

b. Apostolic Fathers

Apart from the papyri, a further corpus from which to draw evidence is the Apostolic Fathers. Although the fathers are a considerably smaller collection, even here independent uses of the participle can be found.30 In fact, both the independent proper and imperatival functions are represented. The following examples include both:

Barn. 6:11

ejpeiV ou\n ajnakainivsa" hJma" ejn th'/ ajfevsei tw'n aJmartiw'n, ejpoivsen hJma" a~llon tuvpon, wJ" paidivwn e~cein thVn yuchvn, wJ" a~n dhV ajnaplavssonto" aujtou' hJma"

 

So, since he renewed us by the forgiveness of sins, he made us to be another type, so that we should have the soul of children, as if he were recreating us

Diogn. 2:1

~Age dhv, kaqavra" seautoVn ajpoV pavntwn tw'n prokatecovntwn sou thVn diavnoian logismw'n, kaiV thVn ajpatw'savn se sunhvqeian ajposkeuasavmeno", kaiV genovmeno" w{vsper ejx ajrch'" kainoV" a~nqrwpo", wJ" a~n kaiV lovgou kainou', kaqavper kaiV aujtoV" wJmolovghsa", ajkroathV" ejsovmeno"

 

Come, then, cleanse your mind from all of its prejudices and lay aside the custom that deceives you, and become a new man, as it were, from the beginning, as if you were the hearer of a new message, even as you yourself admit31

2. Evidence from the Classical Period

Aside from what has been found in the Koine material, the second era from which to collect evidence is Classical Greek. Just as with the papyri, examples of the function from the Classical authors provide a firm foundation upon which to build a case for validity. What is more, any traces of the use that pre-date the Koine era add substantial weight to the argument. This is due to the fact that it moves the function beyond the idiosyncrasies of the NT authors and toward a usage whose evolutionary progress was begun centuries earlier. A few examples from the Classical period include the following:

Herodotus 1.82

Lakedaimovnioi deV taV eJnantiVa touvtwn e~qento novmon: ouj gaVr komw'nte" proV touvtou ajpoV touvtou koma'n

 

And the Lacedaemonians made a contrary law that ever after they should wear their hair long; for till now they had not so worn it

Thucydides 1.25

ou~te gaVr ejn panhguvresi tai'" koinai'" didovnte" gevra taV nomizovmena

 

For neither at their common festival gatherings would they concede the customary privileges32

C. Analyzing the Grammatical Arguments

Having looked into the textual evidence in favor of viewing the imperatival function as a valid NT category, we now focus our attention on the contribution made by grammatical arguments.

1. Arguments in Favor of Validity
a. Comparative Functions

Comparatively, the participle’s imperatival function corresponds both to the use of the infinitive as well as other participial functions. (a) A somewhat less controversial and more widely accepted category is the imperatival infinitive. Here, just as in the case of the participle, the verbal element of the infinitive is stressed to the neglect of its noun side. In this way the form appears where an imperative might have been expected and carries the same volitional force. Although quite rare (Rom 12:15; Phil 3:16), most do not object to the validity of this usage. The acceptance of such a similar piece of language (the infinitive being an indeclinable verbal noun, and the participle a declinable verbal adjective) would lead us to question why the participle’s imperatival function would not be greeted with the same reception. (b) A second piece of comparative evidence is the genitive absolute. As Robertson has pointed out, due to the commonality of the genitive absolute and the participle’s function in indirect discourse, “[i]t would seem but a simple step to use the participle…in an independent sentence without direct dependence on a verb.”33

b. Nature of the Participle

A second point is that the very nature of the participle would seem to allow for the imperatival usage. The participle, in its simplest definition, is a declinable verbal adjective. As such, it participates in some verbal features (e.g., tense and voice) and some adjectival (e.g., case, number, gender). On occasions the adjectival side is stressed to the neglect of the verbal. In this case the participle functions just like an adjective, either modifying a substantive (i.e., attributive) or making an assertion about it (i.e., predicate). Conversely, why could the reverse not be true? That is, could we not assume that the participle’s very nature would allow it to stress the verbal side to the neglect of the adjectival, thus functioning like a finite verb?

c. Evidence from Comparative Languages

Finally, if the imperatival function were to be established, it would not be a peculiarity found exclusively in Greek. In Latin, the second plural middle indicative is actually a participle that has taken upon itself verbal inflection. This fact likely points to a prehistoric stage in the language in which the participle was used as indicative. Aside from this, the form sequimini (= eJpovmenoi) “not only established itself in the present, but even produced analogy-formations in [the] future and imperfect, and in the subjunctive.”34 Furthermore, in Indo-Germanic languages there is a noticeable similarity between the participle and the third person plural indicative: bheronti (ferunt, fevrousi, Gothic bairand) vs. bheront- (ferens, fevrwn, bairands).35

2. Arguments Against Validity
a. Lack of Evidence Outside the NT

The first of two proposals against the function’s legitimacy is the claim that there is a lack of evidence outside the NT. If this argument could be sustained, it would go a long way to impede the progress of any attempt to establish legitimacy. The imperatival position would have to be re-evaluated in order to determine whether or not the usage was a mere anomaly that has simply been misunderstood by interpreters. Even those who argue for validity admit the rarity with which it occurs. It could be that the few examples posed in the NT are merely a result of mistaken identity.

The problem with this type of argument is that it was originally posed by one whose time pre-dated the discovery of the papyri (i.e., Winer). Even though some continued to espouse this view even after the fact (e.g., Mayser), the evidence seems to speak for itself. To ignore or attempt to explain away the testimony of the examples produced (whether it be declarative or imperatival) is more or less an attempt to maintain one’s convictions at all costs.

b. Alternate Explanations

The second argument against viewing the imperatival function as a valid category is the notion that all examples can be explained either through anacoluthon or ellipsis. This was the primary methodological course taken by Mayser who attempted to explain away the legitimacy of the function in the papyri. In fact, Mayser’s treatment was so highly regarded by Barrett that he boldly states, “No one who has read through Mayser’s pages on the anacoluthic use of the participle will find it difficult to ascribe the few possible cases of the imperatival participle [in the papyri] to this cause.”36

While some may find such an argument appealing, there are two reasons why such a thesis should be rejected. First, anacoluthon assumes a kind of mental lapse on the part of the author that is impossible to apply in every instance. Many of the NT examples appear where no such strain can be posed. Second, the historical survey of the function’s development (below) will show that ellipsis had no part in the formation. From the beginning the participle was employed in coordination with finite forms due to the elasticity of its verbal element. Thus, to argue for the ellipsis of any type of finite form is to misunderstand the history of development.

D. Conclusion

The question of validity is foundational for any study of the imperatival participle. Before pragmatic issues can be debated, one must begin by establishing that what he or she is working with has been properly understood. If one intends to argue for the presence of an unusual syntactical category, there must be ample and undisputed evidence to show that what is being dealt with is more than just the product of the interpreter’s own imagination. Although there have been a handful of dissenters over the years, the consensus that has prevailed among interpreters has been that the imperatival participle is in fact a valid NT category. Our own examination of the evidence has upheld the majority decision, maintaining that there are instances both in the papyri and in the extra-biblical literature where the participle stands independent of any finite verb while carrying an imperatival force. Even the best arguments from those who deny the legitimacy do little in the way of casting doubt on this notion. Now that the function’s validity has been established, the next matter that needs investigation (and one that has caused much greater debate) is how it developed.

III. Development of the Imperatival Participle

If, as we have argued above, the imperatival usage is a legitimate category, the most natural follow-up question would be, “How did it develop?” or “Where did it come from?” Therefore, the goal of this section will be to determine the timeframe in which the development took place as well as the impetus that led to such a process. Throughout the history of discussion the answer to the question of development has taken one of two directions. In the early stages of research it was assumed that the function arose naturally out of the Hellenistic language. However, the in middle of the 20th century this thesis was challenged and for the most part replaced for a time with understanding that the use owed its establishment to Semitic influence. Today proponents remain divided on both sides. Thus, it is out intent to test each of the major development theories in order to determine which offers the best explanation of the available data. If none sufficiently accounts for what is found in the Greek literature, a new model might have to be proposed.

A. Semitic Influence

1. Delineation of the Semitic Position

As the issue of the function’s development has been contemplated, a view that is has been held by numerous interpreters is one that assumes the primary impetus behind the function as being a Semitic usage. While there are numerous interpreters who have held to such a view,37 the seminal work in this area was done by David Daube.38 With reference to the occurrence in the NT, he suggested that, “the participles in question may be due to Hebrew or (though less probably) Aramaic influences.”39 According to Daube, the imperatival function of the participle closely resembles a similar phenomenon found in Tannaitic Hebrew.40 While absent in Classical (or Biblical) Hebrew,41 a common feature present both in the Mishnah and Tosefta is the use of the participle with a volitional force.42 This function commonly appears in codes of conduct as well as certain religious precepts. Herein the reader/hearer is told what he or she ought to do (i.e., what is appropriate). Due to its very nature, the form is limited to specific areas of employment. In particular, there were two types of situations to which Daube restricts the usage. First, the imperatival participle is “never used in a command addressed to a specific person on a specific occasion.” Furthermore, it “cannot be indiscriminately employed even for every kind of rule.” That is, it is never found “in an absolute, unquestioned and unquestionable law.”43

2. Critique of the Semitic Position
a. Evidence from the Papyri

For Daube, a dilemma is posed by the existence of the imperatival function in any extra-biblical material. In order for his view to be correct, this particular usage cannot pre-date the Tannaitic sources (oral or written) in literature that has been unaffected by a Semitic influence. That is, if one were to discover the use in secular literature from the Koine period (e.g., non-literary papyri), then independent development must be posited, and Daube’s thesis would crumble. It was for this reason that he thought it crucial to explain away any and all examples from the papyri. However, his efforts were unsuccessful.

As shown above, there is solid evidence in the papyri both for the formulaic and non-formulaic usages. The presence of both constructions rules out any attempt to explain away the function by attributing it to a conventional concluding formula at the end of letters. Many of the examples set forth appear in the heart of compositions apart from any hint of formulaic affinity. Furthermore, the existence and validity of independent proper participles corroborates the legitimacy of the papyri evidence. That is, since there is merely a pragmatic difference between the imperatival and independent proper functions, and since the independent proper usage in the papyri is not debated, it would seem that the imperatival function should be confirmed as well. This is a point that Daube neither refuted nor even acknowledged. It is possible that the fact simply slipped past the periphery of his awareness, but it would be difficult to substantiate since Moulton’s treatment of the independent proper usage in the papyri appeared on the same page as his discussion of the imperatival function. Either way the point is an injurious blow to his theory.

b. Lack of Functional Correspondence

As noted above, one of the primary concentrations of Daube’s study was an unyielding attempt at disproving the legitimacy of the evidence afforded by the non-literary papyri. However, at one point in his treatment a concession is made: “Even if the evidence from the papyri were valid in itself, it would yet be inapplicable to the cases from the New Testament that it is sought to explain.”44 The reasoning behind such a statement is what Daube saw to be an insurmountable dissimilarity between the usage in the papyri and the in NT.45 However, under closer examination he appears to be mistaken on both accounts. First, the Semitic view does rest heavily on the evidence from the papyri. If there are any traces of an imperatival usage (or independent proper) within the secular literature of the Koine period, then some type of independent Hellenistic development must be acknowledged, especially if these sources pre-date the biblical account. Nevertheless, even if a theory of independence is adopted, one question is still left unanswered, “Where were the biblical authors drawing from?” When surveying the possibilities, those writers who employed the function could have simply been conforming their style to a certain pattern which they had grown accustomed as a result of their Jewish upbringing. On the other hand, they might have been utilizing a function of the participle that was present, although rare, in the vernacular of that day. To decide which scenario is most probable, a comparison must be made of each type of usage (e.g., non-literary papyri vs. NT and Tannaitic vs. NT). Through this assessment the second point of Daube’s argument (i.e., the dissimilarity between the papyri and the NT evidence) will be shown to be incorrect as well.

A major problem with Daube’s proposal is the lack of correspondence between the function in the Tannaitic tradition and in the NT.46 At least two areas of dissimilarity are substantial: (1) Whereas Tannaitic participles are used exclusively in rules or codes of conduct, thus eliminating any type of command addressed to a specific person on a specific occasion, imperatival participles in the NT appear outside the Haustafeln and are employed as directives for particular courses of action (2 Cor 8:24).47 (2) Semantically, imperatival participles found in the NT can carry the same volitional force as that of a finite imperative. As such, the author is able to impose his will upon his readers.48 However, this is not the case in Tannaitic Hebrew where the participle functions in a general or gnomic sense, indicating what should be done or what ought to be carried out. Had the NT writers been attempting to capture this obligatory sense, the most natural translation would have the impersonal verb dei'or ejavw.49

Unlike the dissimilarity that exists between the function in the NT and in Tannaitic literature, the evidence from the papyri lines up fairly closely to what we find in the biblical record. Although numerous similarities could be suggested (e.g., use in a conditional sentence, paratactic coordination, etc.), there are two primary characteristics that establish the common origin of both the papyri and NT functions: (1) In both the participle can be used to address a specific situation in which it provides either a command or prohibition for a particular circumstance. (2) In both places the participle functions like an imperative in that each can convey not simply what should be done, but what must be done. In this way the function moves past the realm of suggestion into the realm of volition where the author imposes his will on his audience.50

c. Difficulty of Establishing Dependence

A further problem from which the Semitic position suffers is the fact that dependence is difficult to demonstrate. In fact, proof of dependence is the key omission in Daube’s proposal. Although he details the participial function in Tannaitic literature and describes the imperatival function of certain participles in the NT, the two are never linked together in any concrete manner. His discussion merely points out similarities between the two, similarities, which in many cases are not all that similar. A better conclusion is that since there is nothing about the essential character of the participle that would rule out its natural development within either the Hebrew or Greek language, independent development should be suggested.

d. Date of Tannaitic Literature

A point that is often brought up against the Semitic position, especially against the thesis of Daube, is that the Tannaitic sources post-date the writings of the NT.51 The recent consensus within Rabbinic scholarship is that the Mishnah, which is the earliest rabbinic material, was not complied into its final product until ca. A.D. 200.52 In response to this, some have argued that the conservative nature of the oral tradition authorizes the retracting of the timeframe to a period prior to the Christian era,53 not to mention the fact that the use was already evident in Aramaic.54 This point is well taken, and for this reason, the argument is not given as great a priority in the hierarchy of critique. However, the objection remains and will remain because of the previous argument.

e. Familiarity of Audiences

A final argument against Semitic development is the lack of familiarity that NT audiences would have had with such a usage. If the imperatival function was a nuance taken from Tannaitic Hebrew, and therefore foreign to those unfamiliar to Rabbinic sources, how were Gentile audiences like those in Rome or those in Asia Minor expected to pick up on such an obscure linguistic phenomenon?55

B. Hellenistic Outgrowth

A second proposal, and one that stands on the opposite side of the spectrum from the Semitic position, is that the imperatival participle was a natural development out of the Hellenistic language. In particular, two proposals have been suggested in order to explain how this development took place. The first argues that the function was an outgrowth of the form’s periphrastic usage, while the second posits an evolutionary progression from an attendant circumstance function.

1. Outgrowth of the Periphrastic Usage
a. Delineation of the Periphrastic Position

One of the first interpreters to argue for a Hellenistic outgrowth in any type of thorough manner was J. H. Moulton. For Moulton, the imperatival function could be traced back to the ellipsis of an unexpressed finite form, ejstev. Moulton’s proposal has garnered only a handful of followers over the years.56 However, this fact may say more about how few scholars have actually tackled the question of development rather than the relative quality of his proposal. If this suggestion is correct, it absolves the interpreter from attributing the phenomenon to anacoluthon, as so many have attempted.

The strongest piece of evidence in favor of the periphrastic position is the fact that imperatival adjectives often appear in the same contexts as imperatival participles (cf. Rom 12:9-19; 1 Pet 3:8f). In such cases, most would agree that the adjectives demand the unexpressed imperative ejstev, a particular usage that is for some reason not found in the NT. Along the same lines, it would only be natural for the participle to require such an imperative as well.57

b. Critique of the Periphrastic Position

(1) Methodological Flaws

One of the strongest if not the strongest piece of evidence against the periphrastic view is its failure to properly identify the initial stages in the function’s development. This was due to a key methodological flaw in Moulton’s approach: constructing the function’s developmental formation based on corresponding structures (e.g., the imperatival adjective). While the participle may seem to require a finite form, no such formulation is requirement. In fact, by tracing the participle through its use in the Greek language, it becomes evident that such an assumption is ill-founded. As we will demonstrate below, the independent usage initially developed as a result of its ambiguity and cumbersome inflection. To avoid the problems raised by the form, authors began placing the participle in paratactic coordination with finite verbs. In this way it carried the same declarative or imperatival force as the corresponding finite form. Moreover, even if this theory of development is proven incorrect, Moulton’s treatment nonetheless fails to demonstrate why such periphrastic constructions might have developed in the first place.

(2) Rarity of Imperative Periphrasis

A second problem, as Fanning has pointed out, is that imperative periphrastic expressions of this sort are very rare.58 In the NT, there are only two examples (possibly three – Eph 5:5), both appearing in the second person singular (Matt 5:25; Luke 19:17). In addition to this rarity, it should also be noted that in indicative periphrasis the equative verb is almost never omitted.59

(3) Contradictory Phraseology

A final point that is somehow missed by the proponents of this view is the fact that if one attempts to explain the use of the participle by supplying a finite form of eijmiv, the function moves out of the realm of independence and into an adverbial category (or more specifically, a supplementary category). Once the finite verb is assumed, the construction becomes periphrastic, and thus no longer independent. The two are mutually exclusive. Therefore, while it is possible to explain the development of the function as arising through periphrasis, when one continues to assume that the finite verb is understood (as done by many of the proponents), he/she contradicts the very point that earlier discussions were set forth to prove, namely, that the participle can function independent of any finite form.

2. Outgrowth of the Attendant Circumstance Usage
a. Delineation of the Attendant Circumstance Position

A final suggestion with reference to the development of the function is that its origins can be traced back to an outgrowth of the attendant circumstance usage. Just as in the case of the previous option, this position views the function as a natural Hellenistic development. The first to clearly delineate this view was Buist M. Fanning.60 While he is not the only scholar to hold to such a position,61 his work, unlike the treatment of many others, brought implicit ideas to the surface and spelled out a distinct evolutionary process through which the function embarked. For Fanning, the transformation from attendant circumstance participle to imperatival participle was not direct. Between these two functions a transitional stage is proposed. He describes this process as follows:

An intermediate step along the way from this [i.e., attendant circumstance] towards the independent imperatival participle can be seen in instances where a participle is dependent in this adverbial way on an imperative-like verb, but only by ‘lax agreement.’ In these the participle is construed as dependent upon another verb, but it appears in nominative plural form (since that is most common in adverbial use), even though there is nothing in the main clause with that form.62

Thus, the participle moves from a function that is totally dependent upon a finite verb (attendant circumstance) to one with less dependency (transitional) and ultimately to independence (imperatival). A few of the examples that are set forth in support of this intermediate stage include: Eph 4:1-3; Col 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:12, 15-16. From these forms, it is argued, derives the imperatival function as seen in the NT.

b. Critique of the Attendant Circumstance Position

(1) Historical Anachronism

One of the weaknesses of the attendant circumstance position is that its suggested historical development is anachronistic. As pointed out earlier, the independent function was already present, though rare, in the Classical period. While little work has been done in this area, the attendant circumstance function likely derived out of Semitic usage.63 This means that it was contemporaneous with if not antecedent to the attendant circumstance usage. But even if this thesis were to be proven incorrect, the most that could be shown would be that both existed at an early stage and thus developed independently. Therefore, it is unlikely that the imperatival participle evolved from the attendant circumstance usage.

(2) Unnecessary Transitional Forms

The second problem with the Attendant Circumstance position is that the proposed intermediate forms are unnecessary. This is due to the fact that the theory of progression that is argued for does not adequately take into account the differences between the semantic situation of the attendant circumstance and the imperatival usages. The primary difference between the two is emphasis. In the case of the former, the participle is simply the prerequisite that must take place before the action of the main verb can occur. The primary emphasis in such a passage is placed on the finite verb. On the other hand, the semantic weight of the latter is not dependent upon any other finite form for its force. When the participle is connected to finite imperatives by way of a copulative conjunction both are coordinate and therefore received the same emphasis. The distinguishing characteristic between the two functions is the presence of a coordinate conjunction. For example, the insertion of a kaiv between an attendant circumstance participle and its main verb would result the participial force being strengthened and coordination being established. Thus, it would seem that if one were to argue for the imperatival participle’s derivation out of an attendant circumstance usage, no transitional form or intermediate stage would be necessary.

(3) Invalid Transitional Forms

Not only are the proposed transitional forms unnecessary, each can be explained in a more natural way. In the case of Eph 4:2-3 Wallace has shown that the participle’s nominative case can be attributed to constructio ad sensum rather than any kind of function as an intermediary construction.64 Due to the fact that the indicative and infinitive combined to create a single imperatival idea, the participle agrees in sense to what would be a finite imperative (peripathvsate). As such it is best understood as denoting the means by which the command takes place. The same can be said for 1 Peter 2:11-12.

The third example (1 Pet 2:15-16) falls short as well. It is not that the participles in these verses fulfill any kind of imperatival function or even serve as transitional elements. These are simply adverbial participles of means that modify an implied imperatival idea (peripathvsate). Finally, with regard to the final suggestion (Col 3:16-17), nothing about the form would seem to demand any type of transitional element. While this is certainly the most difficult of the four to explain, it is not without a resolution. On the one hand, it is possible to suppose the participles are functioning independently and carrying an imperatival force. In this case they would be full-blown imperatival participles. On the other hand, it is possible to view the variation in case as an example of nominative ad sensum (cf. Col 2:2)65 and to understand the forms as adverbial modifiers of ejnoikeivtw. Either way they are not transitional forms. Therefore, what this reveals is the absence of any kind of transitional construction between attendant circumstance and imperatival participles.

(4) Lack of Structural Correspondence

A final point against the attendant circumstance position is the lack of any type of functional correspondence between the attendant circumstance, the transitional element, and the imperatival usage. Some of the more recent work that has been done on the attendant circumstance function has revealed a certain structural pattern in which the use occurs: (a) the tense of the participle is usually aorist; (b) the tense of the main verb is usually aorist; (c) the mood of the main verb is usually imperative or indicative; (d) the participle will precede the main verb–both in word order and time of event; (e) attendant circumstance participles occur frequently in narrative literature, infrequently elsewhere.66 However neither the final forms (i.e., imperatival usage) nor the transitional forms correspond in any way to such a structure. This raises the question of how a transitional form could serve as an intermediary link while giving no evidence of any real ties to the initial form.

C. Examining the Evidence

Now that we have analyzed each of the previous suggestions, our attention will turn to an examination of relevant data for constructing a developmental theory. Two pieces of evidence are pertinent for such a task. First, it is important that we understand some of the precursory matters that led to the participle’s independence. Here we will analyze the nature of the form as well as how it was perceived in popular speech. The second matter to be explored is paratactic coordination within the Classical and Koine periods. The principal question that must be answered is, “Were paratactic constructions used to connect participles with finite verbs?” As we will see below, such an investigation is crucial for determining when the form gained functional independence.

1. Precursors to Independence

The first matter to be taken into consideration when postulating a theory of development is the nature of the participle. Being a declinable verbal adjective, there are various usages in which one dimension of the form becomes more prominent than the other. At times the adjectival side comes forth more strongly, in which case it modifies (i.e., attributive) or asserts something about a substantive (i.e., predicate). What is more, the form can also function in the place of noun (i.e., substantival). In each of these cases, the verbal element is suppressed. In the same manner, it is possible for the verbal side to be emphasized over and even to the neglect of the adjectival element. In this way the participle was prime to be put into service where finite verbal forms might have been expected.

The second point that must be kept in mind is the difficulty created by the adverbial participle in common speech. In his historical survey stretching as far back as the Classical period, Jannaris notes that the participle “did not appeal to the taste and needs of popular speech because of its ambiguity and inconvenient inflection. For apart from its vagueness in regard to person, it did not even specify its own nature and meaning, but subordinated it to the context.”67 Yet, what is more, he adds, “To avoid such ambiguities as well as the mental strain involved by the frequent use of the participles, even [Attic] writers, though fond of participial construction (filomevtocoi), very often resorted to the expedient of a lengthy but clearer and easier analysis into a subordinate clause.”68 Clearly, the form’s ambiguity and inflection made it troublesome for many a native Grecian, not to mention the difficulty it caused for those to whom Greek was a second language.

2. Initial Traces of Independence

The second task that is crucial for constructing a theory of development is pinpointing the initial traces of the participle’s independence. There are three areas in particular that aid in our search. Each of these served as a precursor to the form’s actual independence. The first area in which the participle breaks away from its normal adverbial function and into an independent status is paratactic coordination. By combining two independent clauses—one whose controlling verbal idea consisted in a finite form, the other being controlled by a participle—by way of copulative conjunctions (e.g., kaiv, dev, etc.) the author presents the clauses as on par with one another.69 Such a connection would make it seem as if both the participle and finite verb convey the same semantic force (whether it be declarative or imperatival).70 This phenomenon was present both during the Koine71 and Classical72 periods. Thus, it is apparent that the paratactic coordination used by biblical authors was not a peculiarity of their own making, nor was it a recent development. The initial stages of the construction can be traced back to some of the earlier periods of the Greek language.73

A second indication of the participle’s emerging independent status was its employment in conditional sentences. In the Classical period there were times when either the protasis or apodosis of a conditional sentence was expressed by means of a participle.74 When this occurred the form would carry the force of the mood it represented, whether it be indicative or optative.

The final trace from the Classical period is its appearance in indirect discourse. Within the literature there were times when the participle would provide indirect assertions and declarations instead of the usual construction, o{vti + finite form.75 The specifics of this phenomenon are further delineated by Smyth: “After verbs signifying to know, be ignorant of, learn (not learn of), remember, forget, show, appear, prove, acknowledge, and announce, the participle represents a dependent statement, each tense [i.e., participial form] having the same force as the corresponding tense [i.e., finite form] of the indicative or optative with o{vti or wJ".”76

The results of this survey have great implications for our understanding the independent function as well as its development within the Greek language. While the existence of the independent verbal participle in Classical Greek is sometimes denied,77 its paratactic coordination with finite verbs, its use in conditional sentences, and its employment in indirect discourse reveals at least the seedlings of the independent usage, if not fully blown autonomy. If such were the case, it would mean that the participle gained independence fairly early in the history of the language.

D. Conclusion

In conclusion, historically, it appears that the formation of the participle’s imperatival function can be attributed to a somewhat simple process of renovation.78 The first step toward independence found its impetus in the very nature of the form itself. Due to the fact that it did not appeal to popular speech—as a result of its indefiniteness (i.e., lack of specificity related to person) and need for inflection—the adverbial usage began to be neglected and replaced with simpler forms. In order to avoid these ambiguities, communicators resorted to lengthier and clearer subordinate clauses to get their message across. In this restructuring of its formal duties, the participle was employed in numerous usages that corresponded to the tasks ordinarily performed by finite verbs. It was used in coordinate connection with parallel finite forms. Often it was forced to carry the weight of a verb as it was used both as a protasis and apodosis in conditional sentences. Furthermore, the form was put into use in indirect discourse, rendering its service in instances where an indicative would have been expected. Such tasks were only possible as a result of the elasticity of its range of usage (i.e., being a verbal adjective). In each of these cases the participle functioned just like its corresponding finite form, even carrying the same declarative or imperatival force. It is in these constructions, that the first glimpses of the form’s independence can be seen. This status was further legitimized as it was employed outside of these perimeters in ways that corresponded to independent finite forms. Once it moved into this position, the question of semantic force became simply a matter of pragmatics. Since the independent function had already been established, the form was available for use in either a declarative or imperatival manner. It is this usage that is picked up on by many NT writers and employed to suit their individual authorial needs.

IV. Identification of the Imperatival Participle

To this point in our study the focus has been primarily centered around the legitimacy and development of the particular syntactical category under examination. We have verified that it was in fact a valid NT category, which in turn led us to undertake a search for the process of development. While this information is beneficial on a grammatical level, the study remains incomplete if not applied to the exegetical process. While the theory of development may aid the interpreter in understanding the category, it does one little good if the function cannot be located. For this reason, we will address a pragmatic question that has been neglected thus far: “How does one actually locate an imperatival participle?” In a sense we will move from theory into practice. As mentioned above, little work has been done in order to assist in the identification process. In the absence of guiding principles one is left to his or her own inclinations to ascertain valid examples. In many cases, this has allowed authorial inclination to take precedence over solid grammatical principles. That is, it is not unusual for a participle to be labeled ‘imperatival’ simply due to the fact that the work in which it finds itself is known its for frequent employment (e.g., 1 Peter). Our efforts will be an attempt to remedy this problem by offering solid guidelines by which one can more confidently distinguish the imperatival function from other related uses.

A. Guidelines for Identification

1. Previous Suggestions

The first to propose any type of guidelines for locating imperatival participles was H. G. Meecham. In his brief Expository Times article, Meecham laid out three rules to aid interpreters in this process. He argued that for a participle to be imperatival: (1) it must be textually certain; (2) it must not be grammatically connected with any preceding or following finite verb; and (3) it cannot be due to loose apposition or anacoluthon.79 For the most part these guidelines have served as a template for all subsequent treatments.

One of the first (and really the only) to branch out from this list was Lauri Thurén. His rules were produced primarily from examples found in the epistle of 1 Peter.80 Although the guidelines of Meecham are maintained as foundational elements in his study, Thurén moves beyond his predecessor to propose more nuanced suggestions. He begins by differentiating between formal (i.e., structural) and logical indicators. Within the former, three rules are set forth: (1) it must be in the nominative case; (2) it cannot be attributive or equivalent to a noun (i.e., substantival); and (3) it cannot be part of a conditional or final clause. Within the latter, two points commend themselves as indicators: (1) it should be directly connected to the addressees; and (2) it should not have too passive of a meaning.81

2. Critique of Previous Guidelines

In the past, the guidelines presented above have served the important task of aiding the exegete in locating this grammatical obscurity. However, despite the obvious benefit provided by these directives, room for improvement still exists. In order to move the discussion forward, the older theories need to be reassessed. On a general level, two areas of weakness will be considered: (a) the lack of any type of categorical distinction between types of rules and (b) the lack of any hierarchy to set the guidelines apart from one another in terms of importance. On a more specific level, the validity of three previous guidelines will be examined.

The first general critique that could be offered is that for the most part no categorical distinction has been made between the types of rules (e.g., grammatical vs. contextual vs. semantic).82 Instead, the categories remain mixed. Although Thurén made an attempt in this direction, his efforts did not go far enough. Even where distinctions were drawn, the blending was never truly remedied. For example, under the “logical” guidelines he combines a semantic rule (it should not have too passive of a meaning) with a contextual guideline (it should be directly connected to the addressees). Therefore, in order to create the most efficient set of rules a categorical distinction must be made.

A second area in which previous approaches could be improved upon is in ranking existing guidelines by levels of importance. As it stands, each rule is equally as important in determining what constitutes an imperatival participle as any other. Yet, some type of hierarchical structure must exist. Certainly one would view the participle’s textual certainty to be more foundational than whether or not it was part of a conditional clause. Thus, in order to move the discussion forward, some type of distinction must be made.

Apart from these general observations, there are also a few specific problems that need to be addressed. In particular, Meecham’s first rule in a sense goes without saying. It serves more as guideline for interpretation in general than for locating imperatival participles. Therefore, it need not be a rule for location, since it is a foundational tenant for all exegesis. However, one further note of caution should be added to this area. The interpreter must allow for some textual variation due to one of the basic canons of textual criticism: the harder reading is to be preferred. This tenant takes into account the tendency of scribes to smooth out a text rather than to create difficulties. Thus, in this case, we would expect numerous manuscripts to contain finite verbs instead of participles (i.e., exchanging a more difficult reading for an easier one).

A second correction should also be made with regard to Thurén’s “formal” guideline number three, which disallows the participle’s function in a conditional or final clause. In actuality it is neither true of the imperative in general nor of the imperatival participle in particular. An example does exist in which the participle serves as an apodosis in a conditional sentence (Rom 12:18). Furthermore, related to its correspondence to the finite form, it should be noted that an imperative can function as the protasis of a conditional clause.83 Therefore, nothing about the function rules out the possibility that it could be part of a conditional sentence.

Finally, just as in the case of Thurén’s third rule, his second “logical” directive is neither true of the imperative mood in general nor of the imperatival participle in particular. If the participle carries the sense of an imperative, and if the imperative is often found in the passive voice, then why would we not expect to find a passive participle used as an imperative? This is in fact exactly what we find in a handful of the participles that have been determined to be imperatival (Rom 12:16; Heb 13:5; 1 Pet 1:14).

3. New Proposal

As you can see there are still areas in which our understanding of the function can be improved upon. In fact, after investigating the function from every angle, the conclusion that has been reached concerning guidelines for locating its usage is this: less is more. This is due primarily to its fluidity. As we will discuss below, in many ways it corresponds directly to the imperative. The fact that it can appear in essentially any tense, number, or voice makes narrowing down the morphological idiosyncrasies somewhat difficult. Moreover, its range of usage serves to complicate the issue. Since the form can be employed to portray each of the primary imperatival forces (i.e., command, prohibition, request), and since it is capable of addressing general or specific situations, it is impossible to narrow down a particular context in which one might expect the function to appear. Not to mention the fact that its presence in authors at various ends of the literary quality spectrum complicates the matter even further.84

For this reason our approach will be two-fold. We will begin by simply listing some of the nuances of the function. Here, as proposed above, we will differentiate between the types of categories. The observations will be divided up between two levels. Each will be separated on the basis of the field to which it contributes. Within these categories the nuance will be listed according to its measure of importance. In this way we hope to show the extent to which the function can be taken. Or to put it another way, our goal is to describe what an imperative participle could look like. In the next section we will turn our investigation in another direction. The scope of our study will be narrowed in order to find the common denominator between the forms. In this way we will attempt to establish guidelines that mark off what an imperatival participle must look like.85

a. Nuances of the Imperatival Participle

(1) Grammatical (Morphological, Structural)

  • As all verbal participles, it is always anarthrous.
  • Just like the finite imperative, it is used in any voice (active, middle, or passive).
  • It will always be in the nominative. When addressing a group, the nominative plural is employed (e.g., all NT examples), but the nominative singular is used to address an individual (e.g., papyri).
  • All NT imperatival participles are in the present tense. In the papyri, it appears in the present and aorist tenses (it seems possible that it could be found in the perfect; there is an example of the independent proper participle in the perfect [P.Teb. 14:12-14]).
  • It can be the apodosis both of a comparative (1 Pet 4:10) and conditional clause (Rom 12:18).
  • It can be connected either to a finite imperative (1 Pet 1:14 [ajllav]; Rom 12:19 [ajllav]) or to another imperatival participle (1 Peter 3:9 [dev]) by way of a coordinate conjunction.
  • It can be modified by a subordinate clause (1 Pet 2:18; 3:1, 7, 9; 4:8; Heb 13:5).
  • It is negated by mhv (Rom 12:11, 16, 17, 19; 1 Pet 1:14).

(2) Contextual

  • It appears where an imperatival idea might have been expected (i.e., where it seems that the author is imposing his will on the audience, whether in a greater [command] or lesser manner [request]).
  • It often occurs in the context of general codes of conduct in which it is connected either with other imperatival participles, imperatival adjectives, or imperatives all of which being attached by way of asyndeton, creating a kind of staccato effect (Rom 12:9-19; Heb 13:5; 1 Pet 4:8, 10). However, it is not limited to such a context (cf. 2 Cor 8:24).

(3) Semantic

  • It can function just like an imperative in that it can convey a command (1 Pet 2:18), prohibition (Rom 12:16), or request (2 Cor 8:24).
  • It can be used with a definite subject (addressed directly in the vocative) (1 Pet 2:18; 3:1, 7).
  • It can be used to command general codes of conduct (Rom 12:9-19; Heb 13:5) or to address a specific situation (2 Cor 8:24; cf. papyri).
b. Proposed Guidelines

From these observations, a hierarchical structure can be constructed. In what follows we will compose a minimal list of characteristics that must be met in order for a participle to qualify as imperatival. Each will be listed in descending order by levels of importance.

Grammatical (Syntactic)

  • It must function independent of any finite form (which excludes subordinate modification, periphrasis, anacoluthon, and formulaic usage86).87

Semantic

  • It must carry an imperatival force (i.e., command, prohibition, request).

Grammatical (Morphological, Structural)

  • It must be in the nominative case.
  • It must be anarthrous.

B. Examination of NT Examples

Now that reliable guidelines have been constructed, we will attempt to implement these rules in the task of interpretation. Through them we will assess certain texts that are often set forth as valid NT examples. In each case we will judge whether or not such claims are accurate.

1. Valid Examples88

2 Cor 8:24

thVn ou\n e~ndeixin th'" ajgavph" uJmw'n kaiV hJmw'n kauchvsew" uJpeVr uJmw'n eij" aujtouV" ejndeiknuvmenoi eij" provswpon tw'n ejkklhsiw'n

 

Therefore, show them openly before the churches the proof of your love and our boast in you

Heb 13:5

jAfilavrguro" oJ trovpo", ajrkouvmenoi toi'" parou'sin

 

Let your way of life be free from the love of money; be content with what you have

1 Pet 2:18

oiJ oijkevtai uJpotassovmenoi ejn pantiV fovbw/ toi'" despovtai"

 

Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence

2. Questionable Examples89

Rom 13:11

kaiV tou'to eijdovte" toVn kairovn

 

And do this, because we know the time / And know this, namely the time

 

As in the case with 2 Pet 3:3, this particular phrase may be a type of formulaic usage. If so, the function would not be classified as an imperatival participle.

Col 3:16

oJ lovgo" tou' Cristou' ejnoikeivtw...didavskonte" kaiV nouqetou'nte" eJautouv"

 

Let the word of Christ dwell…with the result that you teach and admonish / Let the word of Christ dwell…Teach and admonish one another

 

While the participles (nominative plural) lack of agreement with either lovgo" (nominative singular) or uJmi'n(dative plural), it is possible to view the variation in case as an example of nominative ad sensum (MHT 3:230; cf. Col 2:2). If such were the case, one would not need to posit an imperatival function.

3. Invalid Examples90

Luke 24:47

kaiV khrucqh'nai...ajrxavmenoi ajpoV jIerousalhVm

 

And to preach…beginning from Jerusalem

 

Against the suggestion of Moulton (MHT 1:182), it is best not to follow the punctuation of Westcott and Hort’s marginal reading: “Begin ye from Jerusalem as witnesses of these things.” First of all, such a reading creates an unusual function for a~rcw. Never it is used in the imperative in the NT, and when it is employed as a finite form it normally takes a complementary infinitive not a direct object. Second, this interpretation causes mavrture" (v. 48) to function either in some sort of a predicate nominative capacity apart from an equative verb or as a direct object in the nominative case. Overall, it is much easier to assume an adverbial function for the participle. Luke uses a similar structure elsewhere (Luke 23:5; 24:27; Acts 1:22; 8:35; 10:37; cf. also Matt 20:8; John 8:9). This is in line with the suggestion made by Robertson, who pointed out that no participle should not be taken imperativally if it can be connected to another verbal element (Grammar, 1133-1134).

Eph 4:2-3

parakalw' ou\n uJma'" ejgwV oJ devsmio" ejn kurivw/ ajxivw" peripath'sai...ajnecovmenoi ajllhvlwn ejn ajgavph/...spoudavzonte" threi'n thVn eJnovthta tou' pneuvmato"

 

Therefore, I, the prisoner in the Lord, exhort you to walk worthy…by bearing with one another in love…by making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit

 

Due to the fact that the indicative and infinitive combined to create a single imperatival idea, the participle agrees in sense to what would be a finite imperative (peripathvsate). As such the participle’s nominative case can be attributed to constructio ad sensum rather than to an imperatival function (cf. Wallace, Exegetical Syntax, 652).

1 Pet 5:6-7

tapeinwvqhte ou\n uJpoV thVn krataiaVn cei'ra tou' qeou'...pa'san thVn mevrimnan uJmw'n ejpirivyante" ejpaujtovn

 

Be humbled under the mighty hand of God…by casting all your worries upon him

 

While many modern versions translate it as an imperative (e.g., NIV, RSV, NSRV), the participle is more likely an adverbial modifier of tapeinwvqhte (“be humbled”). As such, it denotes the means by which this act of humbling takes place. Furthermore, it helps us to better understand what is meant by the verb: “The true Christian attitude is not negative self-abandonment or resignation, but involves as the expression of one’s self-humbling the positive entrusting of oneself and one’s troubles to God.”91

IV. Semantics of the Imperatival Participle

Having defended the validity of the participle’s imperatival function and having traced its development throughout the history of the language, we are now in a position to discuss issues of semantics and purpose. When the two are compared, it is evident that the former gives rise to the latter. That is, for us to determine the significance of the use’s employment, there must be something about its meaning that an author intends to communicate. Therefore, in this section we will attempt to answer the question, “What is the meaning conveyed by the function?” (a question of semantics) which, in turn, will aid us in the answering the question, “Why is the function being used?” (a question of purpose).

A tacit assumption made by most who deal with the subject is that an author’s choice of the participle reveals something about what he is intending to convey. Most interpreters assume that behind the participle lies a softer, gentler appeal. However, such an opinion has been based primarily in supposition rather than extensive grammatical analysis. In this section, we will examine such a notion in order to test its validity. Our goal will be to determine exactly what is being communicated by the participial form and how it differs from the standard imperative.

A. Previous Suggestions

One of the most neglected areas in the study of the imperatival participle has been the area of semantics and purpose. With regard to those who have tackled the issue, a common assumption seems to be shared by all: the NT authors employ the participle because the form conveys something other than what could be communicated through a finite form. The specifics of this thesis have gone in two directions. Some believe that the participle expresses a milder appeal, and therefore was used to soften the tone of address. Others have suggested that the meaning was just as elusive in the first century as it is now; thus it was employed to create intentional ambiguity.

1. Milder Appeal

Many who have dealt with the usage have come to conclude that the reason why authors employed the participle rather than the finite verb was because of their desire to communicate a softer, gentler appeal. Behind this idea lies a conception of the function’s semantic value as being similar to the imperative of request (i.e., a polite appeal which is less forceful than a imperative of command). One of the first to suggest such an idea was David Daube. In his study, Daube argues that “the participle is in its place in all admonitions to a proper conduct and even the vast majority of fixed and exact precepts; but not where a precept is an unqualified, hard, fundamental ‘must’ or ‘must not’, having absolutely nothing to do with custom.”92 In this way it expresses what should be done rather than what must be done. While the volition of the addressee is engaged, the force behind the engagement is not quite as strong.

Another similar suggestion can be found in the work of Neva Miller. Her focus centered primarily around Romans 12. After describing the caution taken by the apostle in addressing the Roman believers, and after pointing out the frequency of the participial use rather than finite verbs, she claims that the “patterning suits the apostle’s purpose to convey directions without giving direct commands.”93 For the most part Miller would agree with Daube’s thesis. She contends that, “the participial injunctions appeal to reason and the emotions more than to the will.”94 For this reason, Paul’s readers would not have felt as if he was attempting to throw his weight around; instead, they would have been open to the mutual benefits that the exhortations supplied.

Along somewhat different lines, Michael Thompson has proposed that the imperatival participles of Romans 12 are employed as a result of the unfamiliarity of the author with those to whom he is writing.95 More specifically he argues that, “the choice of participles here may be attributed to the fact that [Paul] did not know the majority of his readers. A string of imperatives such as occurs in 1 Thess. 5 might not go down as well with strangers as the more descriptive exhortations subtly conveyed by participles.”96 Behind this suggestion, just as with the two previous proposals, is the assumption that the participle carries a weaker force than the ordinary finite form, thus creating a softer and gentler form of imperative.97

2. Strategic Ambiguity

A second option concerning the semantics of the function was proposed by Lauri Thurén. In his study of 1 Peter, Thurén argues that the participial constructions were used to create intentional semantic ambiguity. Such a technique was employed as part of the author’s larger rhetorical strategy. He understands the driving force behind the letter to be a conflict of interests due to outside social pressures. On the one hand, some have reacted to the pressure by merely assimilating into the non-Christian society. On the other hand, there are those who have responded by attempting to avenge the injustice. Due to the fact that the epistle is intended for a mixed audience, the participial forms are chosen as a way of simultaneously addressing both groups. Thus, the author creates a dual meaning: “His task is to encourage some and assure them of God’s grace, but to discourage others and tell them that their new status is not self-evident and guaranteed.”98 In this way the forms “challenge the interpreter to make a choice between understanding them as encouraging utterances, which describe the addressees and their situation, or as injunctions.”99 Behind this theory lies a conception of the function’s semantic value as being mysterious or even unknown to the first century audience. It is built on the idea that the meaning could have been taken in various ways. When the overall effect of Thurén’s proposal is taken into consideration, the implications for both the participle and the interpretation of 1 Peter are immense. If the theory is substantiated all subsequent interpretations must take into account the ambiguity created by the author’s rhetorical technique.100

B. Semantic Value

If one intends to understand why an author might choose to employ the imperatival participle it is crucial to establish what the usage actually communicates. That is, we must wrestle with semantics.101 As we have seen above, those who have treated the issue in the past have all been in agreement that an author’s choice of the participle over a finite imperative correlates to the communication of a force other than what would have been conveyed through the finite form. Such a deduction would seem appropriate, even welcomed, as a result of much of the vagueness that often characterizes grammatical analysis. It was this problem over which Wallace lamented several years ago. He noted that a major obstruction within NT grammatical study was that many interpreters were satisfied with “presenting the structural phenomena of the NT in a descriptive manner (i.e., a mere tagging of structures as belonging to certain syntactical categories), while hardly raising the question of the differences in the fields of meaning that ‘synonymous’ structures [i.e., those that are structurally distinct, yet semantically equivalent] can possess.”102 Certainly each of those who have dealt with the issue has avoided falling prey to such a minimalist mentality. In fact, they are all to be commended for their attempts to move the discussion past a surface level analysis and into a more careful search for meaning. However, even now, the question of semantics has yet to be fully answered. The reason for this is that no theory has been able to adequately account for the numerous variations within the usage itself. In most cases this is due to the fact that the studies have focused on individual pericope to the neglect of those examples outside their designated areas of study.103 Therefore, to remedy this problem it is crucial that every example from the Koine period be examined in order to assess the complete range of usage. Only in this way will we be able to determine exactly what is being communicated.

Before we begin this step an important distinction must be made. In order to properly grasp the semantic value, we must differentiate between the function’s denotative and connotative values. By “denotative value” we mean the most basic or essential idea that is communicated. By “connotative value” we mean any additional sense or senses associated with what the function communicates. For example, image if someone were to be set up on a blind date. Afterwards, when asked to describe his date, the man graphically portrays her in the following manner: “she looked like she had been beaten half-to-death with an ugly-stick.” The denotative value would be the same as if he had said, “her appearance was not appealing”; both communicate the fact that the woman was unattractive. However, the connotative value of the former goes beyond that of the latter. Saying that someone “looks like they had been beaten half-to-death with an ugly stick” is much more forceful than merely stating that she is unattractive. It reveals the vehemence with which the communicator holds the person’s appearance in contempt. Thus, the denotative value is the same in both cases, but the connotative value is different—one carrying a milder sense, the other bearing a more negative one. With this distinction in mind, we now turn to an examination of the evidence.

1. Denotative Value

The first aspect to be examined is the participle’s denotative value. When all of the pertinent data is gathered and all of the examples are compared, what becomes clear is that the form’s imperatival function behaves very similar to, if not parallel with, the finite imperative. As described by Wallace, the imperative is the “mood of intention…the mood furthest removed from certainty…[the mood which] moves in the realm of volition (involving the imposition of one’s will upon another) and possibility.”104 Within the specific uses of the form, three are by far the most common: command, prohibition, and request. When compared to one another, the similarity between the participle and the finite form becomes striking. Of the 38 examples that have been collected from the Koine period, 27 are used to command a particular action.105 In each case “the intention of the communicator is to strongly direct the recipient toward the intended action.”106 With the same force, the participle is used three times to convey a prohibition (Rom 12:16, 17, 19). On the other end of the spectrum of force, the form is also capable of weakening its strength to communicate a mild request (2 Cor 8:24; P.Hib. 78.6-13; P.Pet. II 19.1-9; P.Fay. 109.10-11). As we attempt to piece this information together, the denotative value of the form becomes clear: the function is used to engage the volition of the recipients in order to direct them toward a particular action. Such direction can be communicated both in a strong or mild manner. Therefore, as far as its denotative value, the form is essentially equivalent to the finite imperative.107 What this means is that if the desire of an author would have been to give a command, set forth a prohibition, or make a request either of these two forms would have adequately communicated the idea.

2. Connotative Value

The second matter to be analyzed is the form’s connotative value. While its denotation aids our understanding of the participle’s semantics, its connotation reveals why an author might choose the participle over another synonymous form. But unlike the denotative value, the matter of the form’s connotation is somewhat more difficult to determine. The reason for this difficulty lies in the complex variation within the usage. While in the NT the imperatival function appears primarily in some of the better writers, there are instances in the papyri where it is found in very bad Greek. At times it is used when an author wants to be gentle or less direct with his audience. Yet, on the other hand, it can also be employed when the intent is to be more direct or forceful. It is true that the form shows up in moral codes, but it is also used to address particular individuals on particular occasions. Confronted by this roadblock, the next logical step might be to analyze the function within individual authors. But even this is a dead end. Among those who employ the participle most often, no set patterns are developed. Therefore, while it seems safe to say that the variation in form brings with it some type of connotative distinction, any additional sense(s) included in an author’s use of the form must be determined on a case by case basis as a result of a thorough contextual investigation.

C. Exegetical Applicability

The final aspect of our study is attempting to determine how the results of our research apply to exegesis. For one who comes to this work in search of golden exegetical nuggets he or she will certainly walk away disappointed. However, if the desire of the reader is to better understand the language of the NT, and in turn, better equip him or herself in the task of interpretation, the benefits are commendable. The primary value of the study is essentially preventative in nature. Along with Carson, it is our hope that “by talking about what should not be done in exegesis, we may all desire more deeply to interpret the Word of God aright.”108 Thus, our results are intended to serve as a fence of protection guarding against any unwarranted exegetical leaps with relation to this grammatical function. The preventative character of our conclusions will serve this task in two ways. First, it will guard against attributing more to the function than an author originally intended. Errors of this type include claims such as “the participle is employed because the author intended a vividness that was not attainable through the finite imperative,” or “the author uses the participle because of his desire to be gentle and tender with his audience.” Furthermore, it will also keep the interpreter from falling prey to interesting yet erroneous notions that have led entire monographs astray (e.g., Thurén’s dissertation on the ambiguity in 1 Peter). Second, it will guard against arbitrary exegesis. More than a few interpreters have been guilty of classifying a participle as “imperatival” simply because the category exists. This danger is especially prominent in books like 1 Peter where the usage is abundant. But from our study, we have shown that authorial inclination is no longer sufficient grounds for such an interpretive tactic.

VI. Conclusion

The imperatival participle is a grammatical mystery that interpreters have wrestled with for years. While a consensus has been reached concerning many aspects of the function, a few questions still remain unanswered. The goal of this paper was to fill that void by examining the usage from every possible angle. The first matter of investigation was the usage’s validity. In our treatment, a range of texts from the papyri to the Apostolic Fathers was produced to demonstrate that the participle was in fact used independently to convey a volitional idea. Thus, its legitimacy during the Koine period was confirmed. Even the strongest objections from dissenters were not enough to dissuade us from such a conclusion.

As the discussion moved into the issue of development, we found the greatest debate among interpreters. The primary question that needed to be answered was, “How did this syntactical category develop?” Through an analysis of previous developmental theories we discovered that none adequately accounted for all of the applicable data. For this reason we undertook the task of constructing a new theory. From our investigation we proposed that the process was carried out as follows: from the beginning the participle was difficult for the common reader to grasp. Due to its indefiniteness (i.e., lack of specificity related to person) and need for inflection, it quickly began to be replaced with simpler forms even in the best Classical writers. As a result of this lack of popular appeal, its formal duties were reconstructed. The form began to be employed in numerous functions that corresponded to the tasks ordinarily performed by finite verbs (e.g., coordinate constructions, conditional sentences, and indirect discourse). In each of these cases the participle came to be used just like its corresponding finite form, even carrying the same declarative or imperatival force. This status was further legitimized as it was employed outside of these perimeters in ways the corresponded to independent finite verbs. It is at this stage that we find the imperatival function.

Moving from theory to practice, the next topic that was taken up was the matter of pragmatics. The first task was to establish reliable guidelines for locating the function. While previous attempts created a great jumping-off point, they were lacking two key elements: any type of categorical distinction between types of rules and a hierarchy to set the guidelines apart from one another in terms of importance. After offering a few corrective comments and pointing out the great variation within the usage, we noted that the most significant methodological point for constructing reliable guidelines was: less is more. For this reason we suggested four rules: Grammatical (Syntactic): it must function independent of any finite form (which excludes subordinate modification, periphasis, anacoluthon, and formulaic usage). Semantic: It must carry an imperatival force (i.e., command, prohibition, request). Grammatical (Morphological, Structural): (a) it must be in the nominative case; (b) it must be anarthrous.

The final section of our analysis was devoted to the semantics of the category. As we noted, most who have treated the subject in the past have assumed some type of distinction between the use of the participle and the use of the finite imperative. However, when that theory was tested, it came up wanting. Through an examination of the all the pertinent data, we concluded that the semantic force of the participle was very close if not identical with the finite form. However, in order to attain greater specificity and to account for the variation in forms, a distinction was made between the participle’s denotative and connotative values. Concerning the former, we argued that the form was used to engage the volition of the recipients in order to direct them toward a particular action. This injunction could be communicated in either a strong (e.g., command) or mild (e.g., request) manner. As such it carries the same semantic weight as a finite imperative. Concerning the latter, we concluded that any additional sense(s) included in an author’s use of the form must be determined on a case by case basis. This was a result of the complex variation within the usage itself.

So what is so important about an insignificant piece of Greek grammar like the imperatival participle? Is there any reason why so much time was spent pouring over something so miniscule? To these questions I believe there is an answer. It was captured best centuries ago in the words of none other than the great Martin Luther. He stated: “it becomes Christians then to make use of the Holy Scriptures as their one and only book and it is a sin and a shame not to know our own book or to understand the speech and words of our God.”109 While these words rang true back then, they ring even louder for us today. It is our hope that from this paper we have all learned a little more about an “insignificant” piece of grammar, and that understanding it, each of us would come to view even the minor pieces as significant.


1 This paper is dedicated to the memory of Stan Ballard, a man of God through whom I have learned the preciousness of Christian hope.

2 D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (2nd ed; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 15.

3 To properly capture this phenomenon, the designation “imperatival participle” is employed rather than “imperative participle.” The terminological distinction is important, for it differentiates between form and function. This is a point that more than a few interpreters have missed (e.g., David Daube, “Participle and Imperative in I Peter,” in The First Epistle of St. Peter by E. G. Selwyn [2nd ed; London: Macmillan, 1947], 467-488; H. G. Meecham, “The Use of the Participle for the Imperative in the New Testament,” ExpTim 58 [1946-47]: 207-208; Robert L. Hamblin, “An Analysis of First Peter with Special Reference to the Greek Participle” [ThD diss., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1960]; Lauri Thurén, The Rhetorical Strategy of 1 Peter [Åbo: Åbo Academy Press, 1990]). Within the latter designation, there is a subtle insinuation that the participle actually is a finite verb, as if its nature had somehow been transformed. However, no such change has taken place. The participle always remains a participle; yet it operates in various capacities. In this way, one could say that the participle is used instead of a finite verb, but never used as finite verb (Cf. Stanley E. Porter, Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood [Studies in Biblical Greek, ed. D. A. Carson, vol. 1; New York: Peter Lang, 1989], 374-375).

4 Not all would be in agreement with this parenthetic statement. Some argue both for independence as well as ellipsis or anacoluthon. Others have misunderstood the parenthesis, lumping the attendant circumstance usage with the imperatival function (cf. James L. Boyer, “The Classification of Participles: A Statistical Study,” GTJ 5 [1984]: 52 n. 40). We will deal with these matters in a later section.

5 The work went through six editions in Winer’s lifetime and was amplified by Gottlieb Lunemann in the seventh edition. An eighth edition was undertaken by Wilhelm Schmiedel but never completed. The work was first translated from German by W. F. Moulton in 1870. It passed through three English editions, the final of which was released in 1882: G. B. Winer, A Treatise on the Grammar of New Testament Greek (Translated by W. F. Moulton; 3rd rev. ed; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1882).

6 Winer, Treatise, 440 n. 5.

7 Ibid, 440-441.

8 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 25.

9 J. H. Moulton, Prolegomena. A Grammar of New Testament Greek. Vol. 1 (ed. J. H. Moulton; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1908), 180-183, 222-225. [Hereafter referred to as MHT 1]

10 A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (4th ed; Nashville: Broadman, 1915), 944-946, 1132-1135; BDF, 245 [§468]; Maximilian Zerwick, Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples (Translated by Joseph Smith; Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici, vol. 114; Rome: Editrice Pontifico Istituto Biblico, 1963), 129-130 [§373-375]; C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek (2nd ed; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), 179-180.

11 Daube, “Participle and Imperative in I Peter,” 467-488.

12 Charles. H. Talbert, “Tradition and Redaction in Rom XII.9-21,” NTS 16 (1970): 83.

13 E.g., C. E. B. Cranfield, A Commentary on Romans 12-13 (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1965), 40 n. 3; Matthew Black, Romans (NCB; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), 153-154; C. K. Barrett, “The Imperatival Participle,” ExpTim 59 (1947-48): 165-166; idem, The Epistle to the Romans (2nd ed; BNTC; Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991), 220-221.

14 A. P. Salom, “The Imperatival Use of the Participle in the New Testament,” ABR 11 (1963): 41-49.

15 Thurén, The Rhetorical Strategy of 1 Peter, 4-20.

16 Michael Thompson, Clothed with Christ: The Example and Teaching of Jesus in Romans 12:1-15:13 (JSNTSupp 59; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991); Neva Miller, “The Imperativals of Romans 12,” in Linguistics and New Testament Interpretation: Essays on Discourse Analysis (ed. David Alan Black; Nashville: Broadman, 1992), 162-182.

17 Recent (i.e., 1980–present) grammars that list the imperatival participle as a legitimate syntactical category include: Porter, Verbal Aspect, 370-377; idem, Idioms of the Greek New Testament (2nd ed; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1994), 185-186; Buist M. Fanning, Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 386-388; K. L. McKay, A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek: An Aspectual Approach (Studies in Biblical Greek, ed. D. A. Carson. vol. 5; New York: Peter Lang, 1994), 82-84; Richard A. Young, Intermediate New Testament Greek: A Linguistic and Exegetical Approach (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 160; Wallace, Exegetical Syntax, 650-652; David Alan Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 124. Recent (i.e., 1980–present) monographs and articles include: Paul S. Karleen, “The Syntax of the Participle in the Greek New Testament” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1980), 158-159; Philip Kanjurparambil, “Imperatival Participles in Rom 12:9-21,” JBL 102 (1983): 285-288; James L. Boyer, “A Classification of Imperatives: A Statistical Study,” GTJ 8 (1987): 52; Thurén, The Rhetorical Strategy of 1 Peter, 4-20; Miller, “The Imperativals of Romans 12,” 162-182; Scot Snyder, “Participles and Imperatives in 1 Peter: A Re-examination in the Light of Recent Scholarly Trends,” FNT 8 (1995): 187-198.

18 Another potential cause for confusion is found in the treatment of A. T. Robertson. In his discuss, he sets aside seven pages to explain and defend the validity of the function (944-946, 1132-1135). Where confusion could arise is in the fact that he argues that, “because of ellipsis or anacoluthon, the participle carries on the work of either the indicative or the imperative” (Grammar, 1133; italics mine). On the surface this may seem to contradict the function’s independent nature. Yet, while we would allow for such an interpretive option, we would be in disagreement with it. We are of the opinion that, if the function can be explained through ellipsis or anacoluthon, it ceases to be an independent usage. In the case of ellipsis, the participle would then be explained as periphrastic. On the other hand, to say that the usage is anacoluthon fails to take into account the semantics of the function. Since (as we will argue below) it was used both in the NT as well as the papyri as an alternative way of expressing an imperatival idea, there is no reason to argue that the sentence has been rendered ungrammatical. Moreover, what Robertson fails to realize is that the two options are mutually exclusive. As Turner has point out, if a copula is assumed (i.e., ellipsis), then anacoluthon is ruled out (Nigel Turner, Syntax. A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. 3. [ed. J. H. Moulton; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1963], 343; hereafter referred to as MHT 3).

19 A possible reason for this confusion is Daube’s adamant rejection of the evidence from the papyri. In this way, both he and Winer would on the same side, arguing against the position of Moulton. (This scenario, of course, assumes that, having known about the papyri evidence, Winer would have rejected it. Ultimately, such a hypothesis cannot be substantiated.) On the surface, such a denial is what one would expect from a proponent of the position that completely discards the validity of the imperatival function (e.g., Winer). Yet, Daube’s stance flows not from his views on the function’s legitimacy but from his conclusions concerning the development of the function. For him, the imperatival function is a valid category found within the pages of the NT. However, it arose not out of Hellenism but from Semitic influence. Because this point is not often brought to the surface, it appears as if Daube and Moulton are split on a point in which they are actually in agreement.

20 MHT 3:87-88; BDF 179-180 [§353].

21 Fanning, Verbal Aspect, 310.

22 Wallace, Exegetical Syntax, 640-645.

23 Further examples of the independent proper participle in the papyri include: P.Fay. 113.10-12 (A.D. 100); P.Fay. 114.3-5 (A.D. 100); P.Fay. 116. 3 (A.D. 104); P.Giss.Univ-Bibl 21.3-4 (2nd cent. A.D.); P.Lond.Inv No 1575.2-3 (3rd cent. A.D.); P.Lond. 234.17-20 (4th cent. A.D.); P.Gen. 55.6ff (4th cent. A.D.); P.Lond. 412.11-12 (A.D. 351); B.G.U. 1676.6-10 (2nd cent. A.D.); P.Oxy. 244.3-7 (A.D. 23); 725.47-48 (A.D. 183); P.Teb. 58.50-51 (111 B.C.).

24 Porter, Verbal Aspect, 376.

25 Further examples of the formulaic usage of the imperatival participle in the papyri include: P.Grenf. I 30.6-11 (103 B.C.); P.Par. 63.18ff (164 B.C.); Path.P. 1.11f (?); P.Teb. 19.14-15 (118 B.C.); P.Teb. 20.10 (113 B.C.); P.Lond. 42.32 (168 B.C.).

26 Barrett, “The Imperatival Participle,” 165.

27 Daube, “Participle and the Imperative in I Peter,” 468.

28 Basil G. Mandalaris, The Verb in the Greek Non-Literary Papyri (Athens: Hellenistic Ministry of Culture and Studies, 1973), 372-373.

29 Further examples of the non-formulaic usage of the imperatival participle in the papyri include: P.Fay. 109. 10-11 (1st cent. A.D.); P.Fay. 112.8-14 (103 B.C.); P.CairoZen. 59154.1-3 (256 B.C.); P.CairoZen. 59251.6-7bis (252 B.C.).

30 Henry B. Robison, Syntax of the Participle in the Apostolic Fathers, in the Editio Minor of Gerbhardt-Harnack-Zahn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1913), 40.

31 Further examples of the independent use of the participle in the Apostolic Fathers include: Barn. 19:1; Ign. Smyrn. 1:1.

32 Further examples of the independent use of the participle in the Classical period include: Q 307;Y 546; Thucydides 1.111; 4.16; Plato, Phaedrus 228; Plato, Phaedo 74b; Plato, Philebus, 30; Sophocles, Antigone, 404. cf. R. Kühner and B. Gerth, Ausfürliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache: Satzlehre (4th ed; Leverkusen: Gottschalksche, 1955), 2:109.

33 Robertson, Grammar, 944.

34 MHT 1:223-224.

35 Ibid, 224.

36 Barrett, “The Imperatival Participle,” 166.

37 E.g., Barrett, “The Imperatival Participle,” 165-166; Moule, Idiom Book, 179-180; idem, “Peculiarities in the Language of II Corinthians,” in Essays in New Testament Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 158-161; Talbert, “Tradition and Redaction in Rom XII.9-21,” 83-94; W. D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980), 329; Kanjurparambil, “Imperatival Participles in Rom 12:9-21,” 285-288; Max Wilcox, “Semitisms in the New Testament,” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt (ed. H. Temporini and W. Haase. vol. 25, pt. 2; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1984), 1016; Miller, “The Imperativals of Romans 12,” 173-174; David Alan Black, “The Pauline Love Command: Structure, Style, and Ethics in Romans 12:9-21,” FNT 2 (1989): 17. Cf. also Joseph Viteau, (Etude sur le grec du Nouveau Testament: le verbe, syntaxe des propositions [Paris: Emile Bouillon, 1893], 200ff) who explains it as a Hebraism from its use in the LXX.

38 Daube, “Participle and Imperative in I Peter,” 467-488. Although some of the proponents of the Semitic position may not agree with Daube at every point, our assessment of the position and following critique will center mainly on his work. There are two reasons for such an approach: (1) Daube was one of the first major proponents of the position (if not the first). For this reason, most who have come after him have simply accepted his conclusions without further inquiry. Thus the position has stayed somewhat stable over the years. (2) Daube is one of the only proponents to provide a thorough defense of the position. Again, this probably ties into the first point. Apparently those who have followed him agree that the view was set forth and defended adequately at its initial introduction.

39 Daube, “Participle and Imperative in I Peter,” 471.

40 The Tannaitic era is one of two major periods into which rabbinic writings are divided (the other being Amoraic). Its timeframe extends from ca. 50 B.C. to A.D. 200. More specifically, it stretches from the establishment of the early academies of Shammai and Hillel to the completion of the Mishnah under Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi (A.D. 135-217) in the first decade of the third century A.D.

41 Notice the absence in some of the standard Classical Hebrew grammars: Wilhelm Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (ed. E. Kautzsch. 2d ed. Translated by A. E. Cowley; Oxford: Clarendon, 1910), 355-362; Paul Joüon, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Translated and revised by T. Muraoka. 2 vols. Subsidia biblica 14; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1991), 409-418, esp. 410; Bruce K. Waltke, and M. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN.: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 612-631. Cf. also Amnon Gordon, “The Development of the Participle in Biblical, Mishnaic, and Modern Hebrew,” Afroasiatic Linguistics 8 (1982): 121-179.

42 M. H. Segal, A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew (Oxford: Clarendon, 1927), 159; Miguel Perez Fernandez, An Introductory Grammar of Rabbinic Hebrew (Translated by John Elwolde; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 137.

43 Daube, “Participle and Imperative in I Peter,” 474-475.

44 Ibid, 470.

45 Three points of dissimilarity are suggested by Daube (“Participle and Imperative in I Peter,” 470-471): (1) In the NT the adjective is used alongside the participle, both carrying an imperatival force. Yet, in the papyri, no such adjectival use can be found. (2) The imperatival participle in the NT is only used for rules and codes of conduct, while in the papyri there are examples seemingly used as direct commands. (3) In the NT, unlike the papyri, the imperatival function is restricted to one particular context: the Haustafeln and similar types of rules.

46 Recently, Philip Kanjuparambil (“Imperatival Participles in Rom 12:9-21,” 285-288) has proposed parallels between Rom 12:9-19 and The Manual of Disciple (1QS). In this way, he attempts to remedy one of the major problems that has plagued Daube’s position, namely, finding parallels that pre-date the biblical sources. But despite his efforts, Kanjuparambil’s treatment contains two major weaknesses that impede any inherent value: (1) a failure to differentiate between grammatical and contextual/exegetical comparisons; (2) the absence of any substantial evidence that the imperatival forms operate in a similar manner to those in the NT. This same omission is what stalled the work of Daube. While depicting the imperatival usage in two different traditions, there was never any conclusive proof set forth to establish dependence on the part of the biblical authors. In fact, when all the evidence was considered, the NT usage came closer to the papyri than any Hebrew sources. Kanjuparambil does not answer this problem, but simply restates the invalid assumption of Daube, namely, that both participles (i.e., those in 1QS and NT) were used for commands of a derivative nature. Thus, in essence, his work moves the discussion no further than that of Daube. Apart from this there are three major differences (acknowledged by the author himself) between the two texts that seem to make dependence unlikely: (a) While Romans is a direct exhortation in the second person, 1QS is indirect, thus placed in the third person. (b) Rom 12:9-19 is made up primarily of exhortation; on the other hand, 1QS has diverse determinations and explanations. (c) A different “spirit” animated Paul and his respective community than the one related to 1QS.

47 Although Daube mistakenly restricted the imperatival use to the Haustafeln, thereby limiting the participle’s full range of usage, a helpful corrective has been provided by Salom (“The Imperatival Use of the Participle,” 43). While acknowledging that examples exist outside the household codes, he argues that the presence of the function in merely one type of NT context would not eliminate the possibility of a genuine Hellenistic development. As proof he offers the increased use of parataxis in Hellenistic literature, a usage that is limited primarily to a certain type of narrative in the NT. Yet, none would deny that is was a natural development out of the language of Hellenism.

48 This is evident from the participles’ connection with other imperatival forms. Not only do they appear alongside finite imperatives in lists of exhortation (cf. Rom 12:9-19), they are also connected in a coordinate manner with finite forms. In each case the same volitional force is carried by both forms (cf. Rom 12:19; 1 Pet 1:14-15).

49 Salom, “The Imperatival Use of the Participle,” 44.

50 The only difference between the use in the papyri and in the NT is the fact that biblical usage is limited as to the case, number, and gender that is employed. In each instance the biblical authors use the nominative masculine plural form. However, in the papyri no such limitations are found.

51 Nigel Turner, Grammatical Insights into the New Testament (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1965), 165-168; Porter, Verbal Aspect, 373.

52 Jacob Neusner, The Mishnah: An Introduction (Northvale, NJ.: Aronson, 1989), 42-53; idem, The Mishnah Before 70 (Brown Judaic Studies 51; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987), ix; Abraham Goldberg, “The Mishnah – A Study Book of Halakha,” in The Literature of the Sages (ed. Shmuel Safrai. Part 1; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), 215; Hyam Maccoby, Early Rabbinic Writings (Cambridge Commentaries on Writings of the Jewish and Christian World 200 BC to AD 200. vol. 3; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 30.

53 Talbert, “Tradition and Redaction in Romans XII.9-21,” 93 n. 6.

54 Max Wilcox, “Semitisms in the New Testament,” 1016.

55 Bastiaan Van Elderen, Jr., “The Pauline Use of the Participle” (ThD diss., Pacific School of Religion, 1960), 154 n. 1.

56 E.g., MHT 3:343; Van Elderen, Jr., “The Pauline Use of the Participle,” 142.

57 In response to this argument three points need to be made. First, within the various imperatival forms in Romans 12 there is one instance in which the finite imperative is present alongside the adjective (Rom 12:16). The remarkable thing is that the verb is givnesqe not ejstev. Secondly, while the imperatival use of ejstev is not found in the NT, this does not mean that it was non-existent in the Koine period (cf. 1 Clem. 45:1). Third, simply because the adjective seems to demand the ellipsis of a finite imperative does not necessarily imply that the participle requires any elided form to produce a volitional force. This is the mistake made by Fanning (Verbal Aspect, 386 n. 81) who attempts to correct Moulton’s suggestion by positing the ellipsis of an imperatival participle before the adjectives. What he fails to realize is that the two forms are not inter-related as if the form and function of one dictates the form and function of the other.

58 Fanning, Verbal Aspect, 386 n. 81.

59 Ibid.

60 Ibid.

61 E.g., Karleen, “The Syntax of the Participle,” 158-159. Although Karleen’s work pre-dates that of Fanning, it was the latter who brought the issues to an explicit level. McKay (A New Syntax of the Verb, 82-84), like many interpreters confuses the attendant circumstance function with the imperatival. Therefore, he could be placed in this category as well.

62 Fanning, Verbal Aspect, 386.

63 Cf. Cleon Rogers, Jr., “The Great Commission,” BSac 130 (1973): 258-267.

64 Wallace, Exegetical Syntax, 652.

65 MHT 3:230.

66 Wallace, Exegetical Syntax, 640-643.

67 Antonius N. Jannaris, A Historical Greek Grammar Chiefly of the Attic Dialect (London: Macmillan, 1897), 504.

68 Ibid, 505.

69 Robertson, Grammar, 1178.

70 One objection that could be posed is this: “Does the syntactic equality found in Classical and Koine periods necessarily correlate to semantic equality?” That is, does the mere connection of a participle and a finite verb by a coordinate conjunction prove that the two ideas are semantically coordinate (thus placing the two verbal forms on the same level of force)? If the paratactic connection between the participle and other finite forms is simply a stylistic variation of hypotaxis, then this would be a damaging blow for anyone who attempts to argue for an independent function in the Classical period. Nevertheless, this objection does not hold up because it forces a Semitic style and mindset onto the language hundreds of years before the influence of the NT. While there is an overabundance of syntactically paratactic / semantically hypotactic constructions in Hebrew as well as much of the literature in the NT, one should not assume the same is true in classical Greek. When the evidence is evaluated, this is clearly not the case. In Classical literature, the participle is used in semantically paratactic constructions (e.g., Herodotus 4.185.2; Thucydides 1.25.4; 1.42.1). Thus, it would be valid to say that the participle did gain some measure of independence in the Classical period, an independence that carried on into the time of the NT.

71 In the NT there are a handful of instances where an independent proper participle is connected in a coordinate manner with a finite verb (Rom 5:11; 1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 5:12; 7:5; 11:6; 2 Thess 3:8). As far as imperatival participles connected with finite imperatives, the number is somewhat less (Rom 12:19; 1 Pet 1:14-15) (cf. MHT 3:343). Imperatival participles are also connected in a coordinate manner (Rom 12:16; 1 Pet 3:9).

72 Examples of paratactic coordination from classical Greek include: Herodotus 4.185.2; Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 1.3.5; 2.3.8, 17, 21; 3.3.9; 4.2.10; 5.3.30; 5.4.29; 8.2.24; Thucydides 1.25.4; 1.42.1; 1.57, 58; 4.100; Plato, Theaetetus, 144c; Demosthenes, 57.11 (cf. William E. Jelf, A Grammar of the Greek Language (4th ed; Oxford: James Parker, 1866), 410-410; Jannaris, An Historical Greek Grammar, 505; J. H. Moulton and W. F. Howard, Accidence and Word-Formation. Vol. 2, A Grammar of New Testament Greek [ed. J. H. Moulton; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1929], 428-429; Eduard Schwyzer, Griechische Grammatik auf der Grundlage von Karl Brugmanns Griechische Grammatik. Vol. 2. Syntax und Syntaktische Stilistik. Ed. A. Debrunner [Munich: Beck, 1950], 2:406-407; Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Grammar. Revised by G. M. Messing [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956], 477). For further examples, see Kühner-Gerth, Grammatik, 2:109.

73 BDF 245 [§468 (2)] suggests a similar idea. They postulate that the function arose out of its coordination with finite forms.

74 Examples of the protasis expressed by a participle include: Demosthenes 18.209; 21.120; Aristophanes, Nubes, 904; Xenophon, Anabasis, 3.1.2. Examples of the apodosis expressed by a participle include: Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.1.10 (cf. Smyth, Greek Grammar, 530-532; William W. Goodwin, Greek Grammar [Rev. C. B. Gulick; Boston: Ginn, 1930], 300).

75 Examples of the participle’s use in indirect discourse include: Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.10.16; Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 1.6.6; Lysias 4.7 (cf. Basil L. Gildersleeve, Syntax of Classical Greek, from Homer to Demosthenes [New York: American, 1900-1911], 142-143; Smyth Greek Grammar, 470; Albert Rijksbaron, The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek: An Introduction [Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1984], 114-115).

76 Smyth, Greek Grammar, 470.

77 E.g., Daube, “Participle and Imperative in I Peter,” 467; Verlyn D. Verbrugge, “The Collection and Paul’s Leadership of the Church in Corinth.” (PhD diss., University of Notre Dame, 1988), 208. Porter (Verbal Aspect, 370-371) seems to portray Moulton as oblivious to the phenomenon in classical Greek. He describes his view as follows: “the imperatival participle, while not found in classical Greek, is a phenomenon attested in Hellenistic Greek if only sporadically” (italics mine). However, Moulton’s argument never denies the function’s pre-Koine existence. In fact, he quotes from Thumb who observes the function in both classical and Hellenistic Greek (MHT 1:225). Nevertheless, the language used in the Moulton-Daube conflict (e.g., the strong insistence to validate or invalidate the evidence from the papyri) seemed to imply that both parties considered the usage a recent development.

78 Jannaris, Historical Greek Grammar, 504-505.

79 Meecham, “The Use of the Participle for the Imperative,” 207-208.

80 A subsequent set of guidelines for 1 Peter was presented by Scot Snyder (“Participles and Imperatives in 1 Peter,” 197-198). His rules include: (1) the imperatival participle is a genuine category; (2) it must stand independent of a main verb; (3) the number of imperatival participles in 1 Peter is fewer than some suppose; and (4) imperatival participles do exist in 1 Peter. While his attempt should be commended, these guidelines are somewhat less than useful. The first is not a guideline for determining imperatival participles; instead, it is the assumption upon which such a search is built. To say that the imperatival participle is a genuine category says nothing about how to pick out such an occurrence. Similarly, the third rule offers little in the way of helping one to understand what constitutes an imperatival participle; instead, it is merely a statistical observation pertaining to a certain locale. Furthermore, the final guideline is essentially the same as rule number one, only with more location specificity. The second rule is the only actual guideline for determining the characteristics of imperatival participles. However, it is not a new principle, for others have suggested the same guideline in previous treatments.

81 Thurén, The Rhetorical Strategy of 1 Peter, 6-7.

82 If such a distinction were to be made it would be as follows: Grammatical (morphological, structural, etc.): (a) it must be nominative plural; (b) it cannot be attributive or equivalent to a noun (i.e., substantival); (c) it cannot be part of a conditional or final clause; and (d) it cannot be due to loose apposition or anacoluthon. Textual: the reading must be textually certain. Contextual: it should be directly connected with the addressees. Semantic: its meaning should not be too passive.

83 E.g., Matt 7:7ter; Mark 11:29; Luke 10:28; 11:9ter; John 2:19; 7:52; 16:24; Acts 16:31; Eph 5:14bis; Jas 4:7, 8, 10; Cf. James L. Boyer, “The Classification of Imperatives: A Statistical Study,” GTJ 8 (1987): 38-40; Daniel B. Wallace, “ jOrgivzesqe in Ephesians 4:26: Command or Condition?” CTR 3 (1989): 367-371.

84 In the NT the usage can be found in works that are considered some of the better, more literary Greek in the NT (e.g., Hebrews, 1 Peter, Paul). On the other hand, there are traces of the function in literature that is characterized by very bad Greek as well (e.g., P.Teb. 42.5-8).

85 To understand what we are attempting in this section we will take an illustration from the animal world. Across our planet today there are numerous types of birds. Each species varies from another in areas such as wingspan, shape of beak, size of talons, etc. Thus, one way to study the animal would be to list all the various traits of each species. In this way, one would have an exhaustive list of what a bird could look like. Another way to study the bird would be to find the common denominator between every species. In this way, the study would determine the specific characteristics that distinguish a bird from other animals. Here the analysis would center around what a bird must look like.

86 As in the case of many of the examples from the papyri, the participle was used to carry an imperatival force in the closing form of a letter. However, as point out above, since conventional phrases were often thrown into participial forms in closing formulas, the use does not seem to be equivalent with non-formulaic instances elsewhere. Thus, it will be excluded from our list of valid examples.

87 Although the frequency with which the statement is employed has made it almost cliché, Robertson’s word of caution still rings true as the most important guideline for locating an imperatival participle: “In general it may be said that no participle should be explained in this way that can properly be connected with a finite verb” (Robertson, Grammar, 1133-1134; a similar point is made in an earlier discussion: “This use of the participle should not be appealed to if the principal verb is present in the immediate context” [946]).

88 Further examples of the imperatival participle in the NT include: Rom 12:9-19 (17 times); 1 Pet 1:14; 3:1, 7, 9; 4:8, 10.

89 Further instances of questionable examples include: 2 Pet 3:3.

90 Further instances of invalid examples include: 2 Cor 6:3-10; 9:11, 13; Eph 3:17; 5:16, 19-21, 22; Phil 1:30; 2:3; Col 2:2; 3:16; 1 Pet 1:22; 2:12; 3:15-16.

91 J. N. D. Kelly, A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and Jude (BNTC; London: Black, 1969), 208.

92 Daube, “Participle and Imperative in I Peter,” 475-476.

93 Miller, “The Imperativals of Romans 12,” 173.

94 Ibid, 174.

95 Michael Thompson, Clothed with Christ: The Example and Teaching of Jesus in Romans 12:1-15:13 (JSNTSupp 59; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991).

96 Ibid, 90 n. 2.

97 Thompson’s position, namely, that unfamiliarity is the reason for the employment of the participle, suffers from three problems: (1) It fails to note the kind of language used by the apostle throughout the rest of the epistle. In the book of Romans, Paul uses the finite imperative 39 times (excluding quotations and closing salutations) (Rom 6:11, 12, 13bis, 19; 11:18, 20bis, 22; 12:2bis, 14ter, 16, 19, 20bis, 21bis; 13:1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 14bis; 14:1, 3bis, 5, 13, 15, 16, 20, 22; 15:2, 7; 16:17). Thus, there does not appear to be any hint of hesitancy on the part of the apostle to employ a more forceful construction. (2) The letter to the Colossians is evidence that Paul was not afraid of offering commands to a congregation whose members he had not known personally. There the finite imperative is used a total of 28 times (excluding salutations and quotations). Furthermore, in some cases where this type of softer directive might have been called for, the imperative is applied (compare Col 3:18, 19, 22 with 1 Pet 2:18; 3:1, 7). (3) The imperatival participle is used in situations where both the author and recipients are well acquainted with one another (2 Cor 8:24). As such, the lack of familiarity between the author and his audience does not seem to an adequate explanation to the problem.

98 Thurén, The Rhetorical Strategy of 1 Peter, 125.

99 Ibid, 28.

100 However, if such an approach is to be followed, it will have to be grounded in something other than the ambiguity created by imperatival participles. Thurén’s position, while interesting, falls short of convincing as a result of his failure to demonstrate his thesis outside of 1 Peter. While it may be possible to construe the evidence in order to support such a theory within an individual epistle, no such success can be achieved when the reading is carried over into the rest of the NT corpus.

101 By semantics we are referring to “meaning as it is conveyed by language, specifically by the particular forms of language [in this case, participles which appear where finite imperatives might have been expected]” (Porter, Idioms, 313). A more precise definition has been offered by Joseph D. Fantin: “semantic meaning is the meaning which a grammatical form brings to the communication process unaffected by context or lexical content” (“The Greek Imperative Mood in the New Testament: A Cognitive and Communicative Approach,” [PhD diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 2003], 163).

102 Daniel B. Wallace, “The Semantics and Exegetical Significance of the Object-Complement Construction in the New Testament,” GTJ 6 (1985): 92.

103 This strategy contains both positive and negative aspects. Positively, it allows the interpreter the opportunity to analyze the function on its own merits, without any preconceptions of how it works in other places. In this way it becomes easier to pick up on a particular nuance intended by an individual author. On the other hand, it would be wrong to think that a function could be separated from its use outside a given pericope. Only through an examination of all known examples can one gain an understand of the function’s range of usage. Furthermore, and along with this, any methodology which assumes that significant deductions can be drawn concerning the semantics of a given structure without a sufficient database from which to draw is seriously flawed (cf. Wallace, Exegetical Syntax, 1).

104 Wallace, Exegetical Syntax, 485.

105 Rom 12:9-19 (14 times); Heb 13:5; 1 Pet 1:14; 2:18; 3:1, 7, 9; 4:8, 10; P.Teb. 59.8-11; P.Fay. 112.8-14; P.CairoZen. 59154.1-3; P.CairoZen. 59251.6-7bis; Diogn. 2.1ter.

106 Fantin, “The Greek Imperative Mood in the New Testament,” 178.

107 This is verified in two ways: (1) Historically, the imperatival function arose as a natural Hellenistic development (as argued above). As a part of this development the participle performed many of the duties of a finite form (e.g., protasis, apodosis, indirect discourse, etc.). Thus, from the beginning it carried the full weight of its verbal dimension. (2) Structurally, the use of imperatival participles in paratactic coordination and synonymous parallelism with finite imperatives reveals a comparable force explicit in both forms. This thesis is further corroborated by McKay’s work on the aspect of imperatival constructions. He notes that, “when a participle replaces an imperative or jussive subjunctive it preserves the aspect the verb would have had in that mood” (“Aspect in Imperatival Constructions in New Testament Greek,” NovT 27 [1985]: 224. For further information on the aspect of imperatival constructions, see J. P. Louw, “On Greek Prohibitions,” Acta Classica 2 [1959]: 43-57; Porter, Verbal Aspect, 335-361; Fanning, Verbal Aspect, 325-388; Dave Mathewson, “Verbal Aspect in Imperatival Constructions in Pauline Ethical Injunctions,” FNT 9 [1996]: 21-35). Although he confuses the imperatival function with attendant circumstance, his analysis still contains benefit.

108 Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, 15.

109 Martin Luther, “To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany That They Establish and Maintain Christian Schools,” in Luther’s Works, vol. 45, ed. W. Brandt and H. Lehman (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1962), 364.

Related Topics: Grammar