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.