Didômi in Ephesians 1:17

Tonight I came across an interesting form of didômi (δίδωμι: “I give”) in Eph 1:17. The form is δώῃ. This word has a variant reading, as seen in Codex Vaticanus (B), 1739, and a few other manuscripts. The variant reading has δῷ. Regardless of which variant is original, I was intrigued by the form of δώῃ. It is clear that what we have here is a subjunctive, as indicated by the ἵνα clause. However, the subjunctive form of δίδωμι in the third person singular active is δῷ, not δώῃ. I looked up the form in the Blue Hymnal, a.k.a. The Basics of Biblical Greek by Mounce. At first glance, this form, δώῃ, looks like a present subjunctive. It has the stem (δο) that appears to be lengthened and it has the third person singular active subjunctive ending (ῃ). But it is not so. If it were a present active subjunctive, there would need to be a reduplication of the first letter of the stem, which it does not have. Indeed, the second aorist subjunctive form of δίδωμι is δῷ. So what is the δώῃ of Eph 1:17? The Blue Hymnal doesn’t acknowledge this form in its appendix, which shows the various forms of the subjunctive for δίδωμι. None of the following commentaries discuss this form: Lincoln’s Ephesians; O’Brien’s The Letter to the Ephesians; Snodgrass’ Ephesians; Hoehner’s Ephesians; and Barth’s Ephesians 1-3. Both BDAG and BDF list δώῃ as a subjunctive form of δίδωμι without any explanation. So what’s going on? Let’s first take a look at δῷ, and then we will look at δῴη, and finally we will look at δώῃ.

1) δῷ: third person singular aorist active subjunctive δίδωμι “he might give”
The stem of δίδωμι is δο. To form the aorist active subjunctive, which will be a second aorist, we simply start with the stem. But the stem vowel can ablaut, and in this case, it lengthens to an omega. From here, we add on the lengthened form of the present active indicative ending for the third person singular, which is ει. This form must combine with the omega. As I learned it, a dead fish (ω) plus a crab (ε) becomes a dead fish (ω). Then the iota becomes a subscript. Thus, the third person singular aorist active subjunctive form of δίδωμι is δῷ.

2) δῴη: third person singular aorist active optative δίδωμι “he may give”
Starting with the stem and its lengthened vowel due to ablaut, δω, δίδωμι can form the aorist active optative by adding an omicron connecting vowel and ιη at the end for the mood formative, which yields δωοιη. The omega and omicron would contract into an omega and the iota would become a subscript, leaving the eta on the end (δῴη). If we remove the diacritical marks, the optative would look like the stripped form of what we find in NA27, δωη. Is NA27 making an editorial decision by putting it in as δώῃ instead of as δῴη? So far, we have come up with a logical reason as to how we can get the δωη form, that is if it is an aorist active optative. But the use of ἵνα indicates subjunctive. According to BDF (§ 369), ἵνα is never used with the optative in the NT. Likewise, it is interesting that BDAG (s.v. ἵνα § 1.d) states that ἵνα is not used with the optative “in our literature,” which implies that in other ancient literature it is used with the optative. It also adds that in Eph 1:17, δώῃ is the correct reading and it is certainly subjunctive. However, we have not seen a valid explanation as to how δώῃ is a valid subjunctive form.

3) δώῃ: third person singular aorist active subjunctive δίδωμι “he might give”
As we have already seen, the aorist active subjunctive would be formed by putting together δο and ει. Again, when it comes to μι verbs, the stem vowel can experience ablaut. In this case, it lengthens from an omicron to an omega. If we take the ει ending in its lengthened form for the subjunctive, we end up with ῃ, which adds with the omega to form δώῃ.

Based on this information, both δῷ and δώῃ are valid forms of δίδωμι. Now, the NA27 has δώῃ as the original text, whereas the likes of B have δῷ. Which one is original? That’s for a different time. At least I now know where the δώῃ form comes from. It is apparently common enough that commentators don’t feel the need to explain it, and yet, for those who are students of the Blue Hymnal, it can be a rather confusing form. Furthermore, it is possible that there could be a ἵνα + optative construction, but it has been ruled out as a valid NT construction; hence, it is not an option for Eph 1:17, at least according to BDF and BDAG. For this reason, it is likely that NA27 uses the subjunctive rather than the optative. Yes, it appears to be an editorial decision to use the diacritical marks to identify δωη as subjunctive, but it is based on the use of ἵνα throughout the rest of the NT that apparently excludes the use of the optative in this construction, and therefore it is an educated and well-grounded editorial decision.

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13 thoughts on “Didômi in Ephesians 1:17

  1. Check BDAG.

    I'd copy and paste the relevant info, but your comment box won't let me. What's up with that?

  2. I did check BDAG, but maybe I missed something.

    I've copied and pasted into these comment boxes before, so I'm as baffled as you.

  3. Oh, I'd also suggest searching other texts for the form to see if its consistently subjunctive or not. There are 29 hits in the LXX, though I don't have time to look through them myself.

  4. Okay this is weird, but I just tried again and now its working just fine. Three try don't work, but the forth does? Really strange.

    Anyway, here's the relevant info. I'm pasting the entire first paragraph so its easy to find in your copy. The relevant stuff is in bold.

    δίδωμι (Hom.+) by-form διδῶ (B-D-F §94, 1; Rob. 311f) Rv 3:9 (δίδω Tregelles, δίδωμι v.l.), 3 sg. διδοῖ (GrBar 7:2), 3 pl. διδόασι; impf. 3 sg. ἐδίδου, ἐδίδει (Hs 6, 2, 7; cp. Mk 4:8 cod. W), 3 pl. ἐδίδουν, ἐδίδοσαν J 19:3; ptc. διδῶν (Hs 8, 3, 3); fut. δώσω; 1 aor. ἔδωκα, subj. 3 sg. δώσῃ J 17:2; Rv 8:3 v.l. (on this W-S.§14, 9; B-D-F §95, 1; Rob. 308f), 1 pl. δώσωμεν Mk 6:37 v.l., 3 pl. δώσωσιν Rv 4:9 v.l.; pf. δέδωκα; plpf. ἐδεδώκειν (and without augm. δεδώκειν Mk 14:44; Lk 19:15; J 11:57); 2 aor. subj. 3 sg. δῷ J 15:16 (δώῃ v.l.); also in the form δώῃ Eph 1:17; 2 Ti 2:25 (in both δῷ as v.l.): in all these cases read δώῃ subj., not δῴη opt., s. below; δοῖ Mk 8:37 (B-D-F §95, 2; Mlt. 55; Rdm.2 97f and Glotta 7, 1916, 21ff; GKilpatrick in Festschrift JSchmid ’63, 135), pl. δῶμεν, δῶτε, δῶσιν; 2 aor. opt. 3 sg. Hellenist. (also LXX) δῴη for δοίη Ro 15:5; 2 Th 3:16; 2 Ti 1:16, 18 (on Eph 1:17; 2 Ti 2:25 s. above); 2 aor. impv. δός, δότε, inf. δοῦναι, ptc. δούς; pf. δέδωκα LXX. Pass.: 1 fut. δοθήσομαι (W-S. §14, 8ff); 1 aor. ἐδόθην; pf. δέδομαι.

  5. Thanks, Mike.

    Yes, I saw that info from BDAG when I initially wrote my post. Let me clarify with this: BDAG doesn't offer any explanation as to why it is in the δώῃ form, and this is where my curiosity lies. It does say that it is another form of the third person singular aorist subjunctive, but it doesn't say why. Nor does BDF. They both simply list it as an alternate form. I wanted to know why δώῃ is the way it is because the Blue Hymnal doesn't ever mention it (in the 2nd ed. at least).

    It is interesting that the optative form does occur in Rom 15:5, 2 Thes 3:16, and 2 Tim 1:16, 18. It would be interesting to see if the LXX ever uses ἵνα + optative constructions as well.

  6. My guess would be that a good part of the reason for the challenge is the fact that the optative was disappearing and the subjunctive was taking over its territory during the Hellenistic period.

    Do you have Robertson's Big Grammar accessible? If so, you might want to read the discussion at page 983 (the discussion begins on 982 though). You'll also want to read on page 325f. specifically on the Optative. According to Robertson, δῴη is optative and δώῃ is subjunctive.

  7. NSF says the same thing as what you have reported from Robertson. My emphasis here was to explore the dōē form as subjunctive because Mounce did not mention it. What happened was this: when I originally came across this form, I recognized it as subjunctive. Then last Thursday, I realized that the 3rd sg aor active subj should be according to Mounce. So I set out to explore dōē. The discussion, however, has to include the possibility of the optative form, as it is comprised of the very same letters as the subjunctive. I was not attempting to give a reason for the subjunctive over the optative, but rather, I was attempting to show how dōē could be subjunctive when Mounce doesn't mention it and to show that it looks like the optative when the diacritical marks are stripped away.

    I would still be interested in seeing if the LXX used the hina + optative, but I'll do that at another time.

  8. It is true that W. H. read ἵνα δῴη in the text of Eph. 1:17 (ἵνα δώῃ or δῷ in the margin), but this is after a primary tense, οὐ παύομαι. It is the volitive use of the optative and is not due to ἵνα. It is like the optative in a future wish.1 This use of the opt. with ἵνα after a wish is not unknown to classic Greek.2 It is the subj., not the opt., that is seen in ἵνα πληροῖς (Col. 4:17), ἵνα παραδοῖ (Mk. 14:10) and in the sub-final ἵνα γνοῖ (Mk. 9:30).[note 4]

    Note 4:
    … Moulton finds only one pap. of this period with opt. with ἵνα, O.P. 237 (late ii/a.d.), ἵνα—δυνηθείην. In iii/a.d. he notes L.Pw., ἵνʼ—εἴηι in primary sequence. Tb. 1 (ii/b.c.) actually has ἠξίωσα χρηματισθήσοιτο.

    Robertson, 983.

  9. So, is Robertson making the case that it should be read as optative in Eph 1:17? And is he saying that ἵνα has no bearing on δωη, that the use of ἵνα does not require us to see δωη as subjunctive? Or is he saying that the use of ἵνα + optative was a classic Greek construction that was on its way out in koine Greek, which would indicate that the construction we have in Eph 1:17 leads us to the subjunctive form of δωη? All of the commentators listed above take this form to be subjunctive. Why did they not follow Robertson if he is indeed arguing that δωη ought to be understood as an optative? When did his grammar get published?

  10. It is interesting that Hoehner cites Robertson 983 in support of the use of the subjunctive for Eph 1:17.

  11. The fourth and final edition of Robertson was published in 1934. Its essentially a reprint with corrections of the third edition from 1919.

    My understanding of it is that Robertson isn't making a claim for it being Subjunctive or Optative. He's using Westcott and Hort as his base text, so since WH put the iota subscript under the ω rather than the η, he's following that – elsewhere in his discussion he says that the text is uncertain. My guess is that Hoehner is citing Robertson less as an authority for his view and more for the purpose of noting a relevant discussion.

    What is striking in Hoehner is that Hoehner explicitly states, "Except for the Atticists and much later writers (first to third century A.D.), the final optative does not follow a present tense as would be the case here." He cites Turner of Moulton Howard & Turner, Syntax vol, 3, 129.

    What Turner says is this:
    "It is unlikely that the pointing in Eph 1:17 is δῴη (WH text); B has δῷ (WH mg); and in any case the ἵνα may be imperatival; final opt. does not come very well after a present tense, except with the Atticists and much later writers, and makes the achievement of the purpose more remote than the author could have intended" (128-129; my emphasis).

    What's striking is that its the exact opposite of what Robertson says in what directly follows from what I quoted above:
    "In the N. T. the optative in final clauses after secondary tenses is non-existent. In 2 Tim. 2:25 μή ποτε δῴη is after a primary tense as in Eph. 1:17, and here again the text is uncertain (cf. δώῃ in margin and ἀνανήψωσιν in text.)" (983, my emphasis).

    I think what it comes down to is that the grammarians are as less sure of themselves as you and I are. Or perhaps they are sure of themselves, but disagree so much that perhaps we shouldn't be too sure of them.

    So my guess is that commentators really just don't know what to do with it and so, since the optative was disappearing anyway, its easier to just call it subjunctive than make a definite judgment on the issue. To be honest, I'm not sure what I'd do either.

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