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The comparative optative: a Homeric reminiscence in the Greek Pentateuch?

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The potential optative subordinated in a clause of comparison is extremely rare in extra-Biblical Greek, though found already in Homeric Epic. In the Septuagint it is relatively frequent. There are nine examples in the third century B.C. Greek Pentateuch and a further nine in later books. It will inevitably be suspected that some sort of Hebraistic influence on these translation Greek documents prompts the usage. Yet analysis of the comparative optative's relationship to text components in the underlying Hebrew reveals no specific motivation from that quarter. We are dealing with an independent Greek phenomenon. The argument of this paper, based on consideration of a large sample of Ancient Greek, is that Homeric reminiscence, far fetched as it must seem prima facie, offers the likeliest explanation of the Pentateuchal usage.


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