Tag Archive: New Testament



CRITICAL POST! The 4 major tenses of the derived (D) optative mood of thematic verbs in Mycenaean Linear B:

Here is the paradigm of the 4 major tenses of the optative mood in Mycenaean Linear B, based on the derived (D) template verb, naie (ancient Greek, naiein) = to dwell in, inhabit:

paradigm-of-the-optative-mood-in-linear-b

Note that we have provided two examples of derivative (D) sentences in this table of the paradigms for the 4 tenses of the optative mood in Mycenaean Linear B and ancient Greek in order to facilitate a better understanding of its functionality.

As can be seen from the table above, there are only 4 primary tenses for the optative mood of thematic (and indeed for athematic) verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, as well as in ancient Greek. These are:

the optative present
the optative future
the optative aorist (or simple past)
the optative perfect

There is no optative imperfect. It is a contradiction in terms. How is it possible that something was in fact happening, kept on happening or used to happen, when it is readily apparent that the optative mood always runs contrary to reality. The optative mood only and always refers to potentialities or possibilities, never to actual situations, which of course strictly call for the indicative mood. 

The optative mood has no equivalent whatsoever in any modern Centum or Occidental language, including modern Greek. It lapsed out of use before the advent of modern Greek. The optative mood sometimes plays a similar role to the subjunctive mood in ancient Greek, but by no means always. As a matter of course, we shall not be deriving a table of the tenses of the subjunctive mood in Mycenaean Linear B, for two conclusive reasons:
1. The subjunctive mood occurs nowhere on any Linear B tablets, i.e. it is not attested, or so it would seem so... because...
2. The subjunctive mood is virtually indistinguishable from the active in Mycenaean Linear B, whether or not we are dealing with thematic or athematic verbs, for the simple reason that Mycenaean Linear B cannot distinguish between short and long vowels. In other words, while ancient Greek allows for the subjunctive mood, which calls for the lengthening of the vowel in any person of the present tense, this is impossible in Mycenaean Linear B.

So there would simply be no point in attempting to reconstruct a mood which could not even be observed on Mycenaean Linear B tablets, even it were present. But it never is to be found on any extant tablet, i.e. it is nowhere attested (A), because Mycenaean Linear B tablets almost exclusively deal with inventories, which are by nature factual, thereby automatically calling for the indicative, and precluding the subjunctive.

It may seem counter-intuitive to find the optative on at least one Linear B tablet, but there is a tenable explanation for this phenomenon. Since the tablet in question deals with religious matters, it makes sense for the optative to be present. For instance, it is possible to say in Mycenaean Linear B,

May we all worship the Goddess of the Winds.
-or-
If only they believed in the gods!

These sentences make perfect sense in Mycenaean Greek.

But this still leaves us with the burning question, what on earth is the optative mood?

This is no easy question to answer. But I shall do my level best. To begin with, it is highly expedient to consult the Wikipedia article on the optative mood in ancient Greek:

wikipedia-optative-ancient-greek

since doing so will expedite your understanding of the functions of the optative. Essentially, these are as follows:

1. to express a wish on behalf of the welfare of someone, e.g.:

May you be happy.
May you live long and be prosperous.

2. to express the wish or hope,... if only (which is contrary to reality, as it never happened anyway, no matter how much or how dearly one might have wished it had happened), e.g.:

If only the Mycenaeans had not conquered Knossos.
If only Donald Trump had not won the U.S. Election! (Fat chance of that!)

3. The potential optative expresses something that would or could happen in a hypothetical situation in the future, e.g.

I wouldnt be surprised if the fortress of Mycenae were to fall in the next few years.
I wouldnt be surprised if Donald Trump were impeached. (Good luck for that one!)

4. Potential in the aorist or the past tense, e.g.     

The king of Knossos fled the city for fear that he might be caught and imprisoned.

5. For purpose clauses in past time, the optative can follow the conjunction so that:

The king has brought us all together so that we might discuss the situation regarding the possibility of an outbreak of war.

6. After verbs expressing fear: 

I was afraid that he had gone out of his mind.

7. for formal benedictions or prayers (primarily in the New Testament), e.g.:

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
May the Lord grant you mercy.

There are even more uses of the optative, but I do not wish to belabour the point. Suffice it to say, this mood is extremely flexible in ancient Greek. It always references actions or situations contrary to reality. It is often quite difficult for us in this present day and age to really get a grip on the various functionalities of the optative tense in ancient Greek, but get a grip we must if we are ever to really, clearly grasp what ancient Greek sentences relying on the optative actually mean, once we have embarked on that most challenging of journeys, to learn ancient Greek, to easy matter, let me tell you from personal experience.

CRITICAL POST: The active middle voice template, akeomai = I repair or I make amends for...  in the five major tenses in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient Greek:

In all of the ancient East Greek dialects, right on down from Mycenaean Linear B to Arcado-Cypriot, its closest cousin (ca. 1100-400 BCE), through to Homeric Greek (ca. 800 BCE, a hodgepodge amalgam of various early ancient Greek dialects), to Ionic and Attic Greek (ca. 500-400 BCE), right on through to Hellenistic Greek (ca. 300-100 BCE) to New Testament Koine Greek (ca. 100 AD) and even to modern Greek, the active middle voice was extremely common, playing an indispensable role in the expression of verbal actions. In fact, it was probably even more common than the standard active voice, which we have already covered under the verb kauo = to burn.

In Mycenaean Linear B and in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects, the template for active middle voice is here represented by the verb, akeomai = I repair -or- I make amends (for myself). The 5 major indicative active tenses represented are, once again:

the present active middle voice
the future active middle voice
the imperfect active middle voice
the aorist (or simple past) active middle voice
the perfect active middle voice

all conjugated in full in this table:

mycenaean-linear-b-active-middle-verbs-akeomai-620

What is the function of the active middle voice in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient (as well as modern) Greek?

It is a very good thing to ask — in fact, it is crucial to the proper understanding of the critical difference between the standard active voice and the middle voice of verbs in Greek. The two voices are simply not the same. The standard active voice, as in the verb, kauo (present), kauso (future), ekauon (imperfect), ekausa (aorist or simple past) & kekausa (perfect) simply indicates something that someone does, will do, was doing, did or has done, with no further qualifications.

The active middle voice is quite another kettle of fish. It is much more active (quite literally!) and much more dynamic. The active middle voice denotes any of the following activities:

1. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject takes a powerful personal interest in whatever action he or she is undertaking;
2. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject acts strictly on his or her own behalf, without any direct influence of or consideration of whatever anyone else may think or adjudge about said action;
3. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject acts independently, of his or her own volition, regardless;
4. Any action undertaken by the subject, which is of a reflexive nature, ie. by means of which the subject does something for or to oneself.

It goes without saying that an active present voice as so utterly complex as the active middle voice exists in no modern language, except for the fourth (4th.) application. The middle voice was of primal importance to the ancient Greeks because they were highly individualistic and egocentric (as opposed to being egoistic, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the active middle voice, except in rare instances). Reflexive verbs (4) are common in practically all modern languages. Thus, we have:

in English: I wash myself, you wash yourself, we wash ourselves etc.
et en français : je me lave, tu te laves, nous nous lavons – et ainsi de suite,
to cite just two examples.

On the other hand, the strict emphasis on personal responsibility for one’ s actions which is the preeminent characteristic of the active middle voice in Mycenaean Linear B and in ancient and modern Greek is nowhere to be found in modern Centum (Occidental) Indo-European languages such as English, French, Italian, Spanish, German etc. etc. In order to express the emphasis on direct personal responsibility innate to the active middle voice in ancient and modern Greek, modern languages have to resort to (sometimes cumbrous) circumlocutions. For instance, to express the first (1.) function of the active middle voice in ancient Greek, English has to resort to this circumlocution:

I am taking a powerful personal interest in repairing... etc.

And for the second (2.) function, this is what English has to resort to:

I am acting strictly on my own behalf in repairing (regardless of what anyone else thinks of it)

And for the third (3.) function:

I am acting entirely on my own (or independently) to repair etc.

Quite the circumlocutions in comparison with the active middle voice in ancient Greek, which is always so compactly and eloquently expressed by a single word, regardless of tense!

Consequently, it is virtually impossible to grasp the several meanings (at least 4) inherent to the active middle voice in ancient Greek, unless one has a firm grasp on the 4 principal functions I have outlined here. I repeat, the distinction between the simple active voice and the active middle voice in both ancient and modern Greek is fundamental to a proper understanding of the divergent functioning of these two active tenses, the simple active and the active middle.

The virtual invariability of the most archaic athematic MI verbs in ancient Greek from 1200 BCE (Linear B) – New Testament Koine Greek (ca. 100 AD):

The following table clearly illustrates that the most archaic of ancient Greek verbs, namely, athematic verbs in MI, underwent only barely perceptible changes over a span of 1,700 years.

didomi-linear-b-archaic-new-testament

This is because these verb forms were already fully developed even as early as in the Mycenaean Greek dialect, written in Linear B (ca. 1600-1200 BCE). This phenomenon falls under the purview of diachronic historical linguistics, whereby the term diachronic means “linguistic change or lack of it over an extended period of time”. The importance of the minimal changeability of archaic athematic MI verbs cannot be over stressed. Regardless of the period and of any particular dialect of ancient East Greek (early: Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, middle: Homeric Epic, an amalgam of various dialects, Classical: Ionic & Attic) & late (Hellenistic & Koine Greek), very little change occurred.  In fact, only the second & third person singular underwent any change at all. In Mycenaean Greek alone, the second person singular was didosi & the third person singular was didoti. In all subsequent dialects, the form of the 2nd. person singular became that for the third, while the second person singular itself morphed into didos in all ancient East Greek dialects pursuant to Mycenaean. This was the one and only change the conjugation of the present tense of archaic athematic verbs such as didomi underwent diachronically from 1,600 BCE to 100 AD. The verb didomi effectively serves as the template for the conjugation of the present active of all athematic verbs in MI throughout this historical period.  This is just one notable aspect of progressive (D) derived Linear B grammar. There are many others, which of course we shall address in the gradual reconstruction of ancient Mycenaean Greek grammar over the next few months. 

My Sonnet pursuant to the 2 haiku about sheep: Easy Prey


Easy Prey

easy-prey-greek

Matthew 18:12

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them
has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains
and go in search of the one that went astray?


Since Hell’s self resurrected on the mad,
the sane dare not consort with the insane,
unless they find themselves as ironclad
in mind as soul to shear across the grain
of equipoise and suffer the untold,
to cast themselves on Sinai’s desert rocks,
to wander off  and stray beyond the fold
where they’ll fall easy prey to Satan’s hawks.
But pause... and ask yourself if you’d submit
to humiliation, the same embraced
by martyrs such as they, or counterfeit,
and by the latter token be defaced.
      The wolf has left his lair, and shall attack
      the sane and the insane... and can’t turn back. 
      

Richard Vallance,


January 9, 2017



The Stone is Cast

the-stone-is-cast-greek

The Stone is Cast

John 8:7

So since they kept on and on nagging him, he answered them, and said,Let the one among you who is sinless be the first to cast a stone at her.”

As stones are cast against the inner walls,
the lessee of the castle wracks his brains,
while wicked winter rails against its halls
and shakes the filings off his dungeon’s chains
where he’s incarcerated serfs at whim,
because they’d dared defy his iron will:
his fingers drew the rusty bolt on him
as well as them, and held him, freezing, still, 
until he fled that vile, ensanguined room, 
their blasted thane — unconscious of his sin,
though conscious of what cold impending doom
was, as winter is, to do him in.
     Oh when it does, its frozen blast shall blind
     him to the shattered mortar of his mind.

Richard Vallance,

January 3, 2017       
  
crumbled-castle-walls

Dictionary of New Testament Greek: FREE!


This site is well worth investigating. The free interlinear copy of the New Testament in Greek and English is worth downloading.

Homiletique

NT Grk DictionaryNow that you’ve begun exploring the world of New Testament Greek via your FREE! Greek and English Interlinear New Testament in conjunction with the FREE! Greek Video Lessons, you’re ready to move to the next step.

That’s right, you need a Greek dictionary to help you understand the varied and nuanced meanings of the New Testament words you’re coming across. Should you accept the translators’ rendering of a Greek word? Is their theology causing them to drift from translation to interpretation? What is the semantic range of a particular word you’re thinking about?

This FREE! resource will help you begin to address those and other questions: Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament

Do you want a hard copy of a New Testament Greek dictionary for your desk? You’ll be impressed with Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

Homitique Dot

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