procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

passive imperatives in Phil. 4

I'm trying to understand the difference in emphasis between the two passive imperatives in Philippians 4.5,6:

5 (τὸ ἐπιεικὲς ὑμῶν) γνωσθήτω πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις. [aorist]
6 (τὰ αἰτήματα ὑμῶν) γνωριζέσθω πρὸς τὸν θεόν. [present]

5 let (your gentleness) be known by all people
6 make (your requests) be known to God

they stand out in that they have essentially the same construction except for the verbal aspect.
now, the roots are fairly similar, and i don't know if you can make much of the difference between them (they both are from that gnosis word, knowledge).
so the difference then must be the aspect in the verbs.
but the difficulty comes in understanding the emphasis in a passive imperative.

with the aorist, the force might be toward a result, with a summary aorist; may people come to the knowledge of your gentleness.
with the present, it's about making God aware of something, namely, your requests; may God now know of your requests.

i think my question is to do with how do i get across the parallel construction and emphasis, which i think Paul had in mind, in a way that i and others can grasp hold of?

this is where i'm up to at the moment anyway.

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Blogger Robert Marshall Murphy said...

Outside of the indicative mood, aspect is all that matters. "I went to the store" vs. "I was going to the store" carry the same tense but only differ in aspect. Only context can tell you if "I was going the store" and I got interrupted, or actually made it there. Aspect is typically part of word painting and not something to lean on for meaning. I think this is a case were the Greek is more subtle than English can be. You could over-translate the present and add the word "keep"...

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