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THE USE OF OU MH IN THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS:

EMPHATIC OR MILD NEGATION?

___________________

A Paper
Presented to
Dr. Daniel B. Wallace
Dallas Theological Seminary

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In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Course
NT205 Advanced Greek Grammar

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by
Richard Bradley Morris
April 2014
File #587

THE USE OF OU MH IN THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS:


MILD OR EMPHATIC NEGATION?
Introduction
Some of the most cherished passages of Scripture are those where God promises the
permanence of his presence and acceptance. As an example, the Lord says in John 6:37:
. At the heart of these passages is the Greek negation
. Generally, the purpose of this paper is to explore this negation in the Apostolic Fathers (AF).
The paper is in three parts in order to accomplish this task. The first section provides the
introductory matters which will undergird the rest of the paper. The second section provides an
analysis of all AF references which have the double negation. The third section summarizes the
papers findings. All in all, this study recommends that in the Apostolic Fathers has
retained its emphatic force from classical Greek.1
Section One: Introductory Matters
Understanding the Problem
For well over a century, scholars have drawn fairly decisive lines on whether or not
the double negative has retained or lost its emphatic force from classical Greek in the Koine
period. Most scholars believe was used in order to denote either a strong denial of a

Abera Mitiku Mengestu reached a similar conclusion in, The Use of OU MH in the New Testament:
Emphatic Negation or Mild Negation? (ThM thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 2005), 10. Contra W. G.
Ballantine reached a similar conclusion in, Negative Futures in the Greek New Testament, American Journal of
Philology 18 (1897): 453, 459.
1

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potentiality or a strong prohibition in classical Greek.2 In other words, the combination of the two
negatives with a finite verb was stronger than merely using or before a finite verb.3 The
table below summarizes this understanding.
EMPHATIC
MILD

+ aorist subjunctive
+ future indicative
+ indicative mood
+ any other mood

Table 1 Classical Usage of the Double Negation

However, some scholars doubt the double negation retained its emphatic force in the
Hellenistic period since the Greek language continued to change as time moved forward and the
double negation was used more frequently in biblical literaturenamely, the Septuagint (LXX)
and the New Testament. Gildersleeve, commenting on Ballantines Negative Futures in the
Greek New Testament, noted:
Nothing is more natural than exaggeration and emphasis in the use of an adopted
languageSo here, , however explained, belongs to the dramatic domain of
classical Greek. It has very little scope outside of dialogue, and, in my judgment, can
only be accounted for by a certain amount of passion. But it would be hard to see any
special passion in many of the examples that Professor Ballantine cites, and we must
suppose that the stress has been lost by over-familiarity.4

Antonius N. Jannaris, An Historical Greek Grammar Chiefly of the Attic Dialect, reprint (Hildesheim:
G. Olms, 1968), 433; H. W. Smyth, Greek Grammar, rev. by G. M. Messing (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1956), 62627; B. L. Gildersleeve, Syntax of Classical Greek from Homer to Demosthenes, vol. 1 (New
York: American Book Company, 1900), 1014.
3

And thus we have the definition of emphasis.

4
B. L. Gildersleeve, Note by the Editor, American Journal of Philology 18 (1897): 460. See also,
Ballantine, Negative Futures in the Greek New Testament, AJP 18 (1897): 45359, and James Moulton Hope, A
Grammar of New Testament Greek: Prolegomena, 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1908), 18792. Among the
grammarians who do believe the double negation retains its force in the New Testament are: Daniel B. Wallace,
Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
1996), 468; N. Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek: Style, vol. 4 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1976), 33, 69;
Stanley E. Porter, Idioms of the Greek New Testament (Sheffield: Academic Press, 1994), 283. A. T. Robertson, A
Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research, 4th ed. (New York: Hodder & Stoughton,
1923), 1174; W. D. Chamberlain, An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament (New York: Macmillan,
1941), 158.

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One cannot deny that stress in a language could be lost due to over-familiarity and overuse.
But extra-syntactical observations such as these have long mired the debate on whether is
an emphatic or a mild negation. One must work at the textual level in order to determine if the
author or even the translator in the case of the LXX understood his use of the double
negation to be emphatic.
The only progress in this debate is in relationship to tone. Many suggest that LXX
translators and NT authors have employed for the purpose of creating a decisive effect for
an authoritative speaker.5 This opinion does not necessarily preclude the possibility of emphasis;
rather, it means that has been infused with semantic nuances that are unoriginal to its
classical usage. And this is beyond the scope of this study.
If it is the case that the double negation became overused and over-familiar, then
what was emphatic in classical Greek became routine in Koine. The table below would
demonstrate this semantic shift.
EMPHATIC
+ aorist subjunctive
+ future indicative
MILD
+ indicative mood
+ any other mood
Table 2 Hellenistic Usage of the Double Negation

The table above shows that emphatic negation with the use of no longer existed
and that the double negation had been demoted to the level of mild negation. In other words, if
scholars like Ballantine and Gildersleeve are correct, then the force of would have the

James Moulton Hope, A Grammar of New Testament Greek: Prolegomena, 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: T&T
Clark, 1908), 192; J. A. L. Lee, Some Features of the Speech of Jesus in Marks Gospel, Novum Testamentum 27
(1985): 20; Moule (agreeing with Moulton), An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, 2nd ed. (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1959); Zerwick, Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples, translated by J. Smith (Rome:
Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 1963), 149. I would also put here Mengestu, The Use of OU MH in the New Testament:
Emphatic Negation or Mild Negation? 7173.

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same semantic force as a simple negation of a finite verb. Thus, the double negation became
merely a stylistic choice for a translator or for an author. The question at hand is whether that is
an accurate portrayal of what happened within the Greek language.
The Aim and Rationale of the Study
The aim of this study is to breathe new life into an old debate by introducing
previously unconsidered datanamely, the Apostolic Fathers (AF). In the analysis of the AF,
this study takes into consideration the larger context and the nature of the sentenceand any
other relevant datain determining whether the authors intended mild or emphatic negation with
their use of . The difficulty of this study rests on proving that the negation is either
emphatic or mild since this will largely rest on how one interprets the syntax and context. It is
probable that, at times, single data points will be inconclusive.
The rationale of this study is simple: the Apostolic Fathers follow right on the heels
of the NT period and is a distinct, though related, body of literature which provides another
witness for the use of this negation. Therefore, the reader may more competently understand the
possibilities for in LXX and NT studies based on the outcome of this study.
A Unique Challenge in the AF
This studys aim does not come without its set of unique challenges. A unique
problem concerns source criticism. The AF make use of authoritative documents in an
uninhibited mannerthey can either quote them directly with an introductory formula (e.g., 1
Clem. 50.6), allude to them briefly (perhaps Ign. Smyrn. 10.1), loosely recall an ancient
document known or unknown to todays scholarship, and it could even be that they are using
these documents unconsciouslyi.e., intertextuality.6 It is difficult to parse these sources at
times.

6
Intertextuality deserves a brief note: the OT for nearly all of the early church was the Greek OT. And
as we mentioned before, the AF follow right on the heels of the NT. These documents were so influential in the lives

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Approach to the Data
Each time appears in the AF must be analyzed in order to explore this thesis.
The table below provides all instances of in the AF. Throughout the analysis it will be
evident that a cataloguing system has been created. Numbers in parentheses(2) or (3)
indicate the number of occurrences of in a particular verse, viz., two or three times. If a
number is superscript (1, 2, or 3) it indicates which instance of is being referenced within a
verse with multiple occurrences. Details beyond this will be provided as necessary.

Texts
1 Clem.
Ign. Smyrn.
Did.
Barn.

Hits
4
1
2
17

Herm. Mand.
and Vis.
Total

References
50.6; 56.10, 11, 13
10.1
4.10, 13
10.4, 5, 6(2), 7, 8; 11.1;
17.2; 19.2, 4, 5(3), 6(2),
7(2)
39.2, 5; 50.5

Frequency
/1000 Words
.34
.70
.71
2.07

.09

27 in 22 vv

Table 3 All Instances of in the Apostolic Fathers

Section Two: Analysis of the Apostolic Fathers


The purpose of this section is to analyze several occurrences of in the AF. This
will start with the presentation of two tables. The first table shows the distribution of references
based on what follows the negation in terms of mood and tense. The second table demonstrates
the sources each reference may be related to. After a brief discussion of each table, the paper
turns to consider each occurrence of the double negation in the AF.

of early Christians that it is only natural that Christian authors picked up expressions and nuances found in the LXX
and in the NT. It would be no different than the KJVs lasting impact on conversational and compositional English.

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by Distribution
Text
1 Clem.
Ign. Smyrn.
Did.
Barn.

Herm. Mand.
and Vis.

Specific Reference
50.6; 56.10, 11, 13
10.1
4:10, 13
10.4, 5, 6(2), 7, 8;
11.1; 17.2; 19.2, 4,
5(3), 6(2), 7(2)
39.2, 5; 50.5

Aorist Subjunctive
50.6; 56.11, 56.13

4:13
10.6(2), 7, 8, 17.2,
19.2, 4, 5(3), 6(2),
71
39.2,

Future Indicative
56.10
10.1
4:10
10.4, 5; 11.1; 19.72

Total: 18

Total: 9

39.5; 50.5

Table 4 Distribution of in the NT by Tense and Mood

A predictable way to begin our analysis is to note the kinds of verbs which follow
in terms of tense and mood. The double negation in the AF is followed by an aorist
subjunctive verb 66% of the time. And the double negation is followed by a future indicative
33% of the time. If one were familiar with the raw NT data on this matter, she would see that this
is a substantial difference from the NT where only thirteen of the ninety-four (16%) instances of
the double negation are followed by a future indicative. However, text critical issues and
synoptic parallels cause these NT numbers to be in flux.7
On the surface, one could read the change from the NT a few ways: (1) for some
reason the future has become more popular with the double negation after the NT period; (2) the
future and aorist tenses have become roughly synonymous by the time of the AF; or (3) the
future is encroaching upon the domain of the aorist. There is a fourth optionnamely, that (4)
the data does not tell much of a story at all. In our opinion, this body of data is not large enough
to project changes in the Greek language upon the wider culture of its use.
As we suggested in the first section, one of the primary challenges with the AF is
determining true influences and sources. The purpose of the table (below) is to catalogue
in the AF according to source. By source, it is meant a demonstrable dependence upon another

See Mengestu, The Use of OU MH in the New Testament, 51, 53.

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literary document. This dependence can mean that an author directly quoted an earlier document
or loosely alluded to it. We will use the categories from this table in order to divide what remains
of the paper.
Text
1 Clem.
Ign.
Smyrn.

Quotation
AF
REF
50.6
Ps 31:12
56.10
Job 5:21
56.11
Job 5:22
56.13
Job 5:24

Allusion
AF
REF

10.1

Independent

Matt 10:42
Mark 9:41
Cp. 4.10 to Barn. 19.7(2)
Cp. 4.13 to Barn. 19.2

Did.
10.4

Barn.

Herm.
Mand. and
Vis.

Other

10.5
10.61
10.62
10.7
10.8
19.52
19.61
19.62
39.2
39.5

Lev 11:13f/
Deut 11:14f
?
Lev 11:5
Lev 11:5
?
?
Exod 20:7
Exod 20:17
Exod 20:17
Heb 13:5
Jas 1:78

11.1
17.2,
19.4
19.53

Cp. 19.2 to Did. 4.13


Cp. 19.51 to Did. 4.4

50.5

A ? represents an unknown source


Bold font represents double negation near an LXX allusion
Italics represent hesitance to place the ref. in that column.
Table 5 Distribution of by Source

The Quotation columns provide the AF references containing the double negation
in a verbatim quotation accompanied by the identifiable source. The Allusion columns contain
possible allusions to either the LXX or New Testament; most references in this category belong
to Barnabas.8 There are times within this category when the author interacted with an

8
We understand that these categories may feel arbitrary. Barnabas in particular was the most slippery
book to deal with. Its placement within these categories was assessed time and time again.

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authoritative text but that text remains unknown to us (according to Holmes).9 The
Independent column contains AF references which cannot be catalogued as either allusions or
quotations from other source materials. The Other category shows possible literary dependence
between two works within the AFnamely, Barnabas and Didache.
For most of the references that follow, the paper provides: (1) the Greek sentence
containing the negation and any other relevant context; (2) Holmess English translation if
deemed necessary; and (3) a paragraph or two which provide the syntax, the larger context, the
speaker (if relevant), and a determination on the type of negation.
Quotation
All direct quotations are confined to 1 Clement and come from the LXX. We looked
to the wider context to determine if the author intended emphasis or not. In other words, how the
author interacted with the quote may provide clues concerning the force of the negation. Only
one reference of the four that follow may be conclusive.

1 Clem. 50.6

1 Clement 50.6 is a verbatim quotation of Psalm 31:12. On the surface it appears


impossible to determine the force of the double negation since it is buried within a quotation not
original to the author; however, the context may be revealing.
Eschatological concepts precede the quotation. The author wants his audience to be
found () in love (1 Clem 50.2bis). If the author was influenced by the Pauline corpus,
then he may have intended the verb to have eschatological and examinational overtones

The author of Barnabas said that he was interacting with the Mosaic Law. But the commands he
provided cannot be paralleled with any LXX texts. It could be that the author was mistaken or provided animals his
audience knew but were different from those used in the LXX.

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as Paul often used it.10 Beyond this, the author speaks about the godly who will be revealed at
the visitation of the kingdom of Christ in 50.3; clearly eschatological in meaning. Finally, the
author refers to the quotation from Psalm 31 as a , which is a pronouncement of
blessing, in 50.7.11 More than a neutral quotation, the author understood this quotation as a divine
promise or declaration of good intent. These several factors may mean that the author understood
the double negation within Ps 31 to be emphatic.

1 Clem. 56.10

And from the scourge of the tongue he will hide you, and you will not be
afraid when evils approach.

1 Clem. 56.11

,
You will laugh at the unrighteous and the wicked, and of the wild beasts you
will not be afraid

1 Clem. 56.13

Then you will know that your house will be at peace, and the tent in which
you dwell will not fail.

These references from 1 Clement are inconclusive with respect to the force of the
double negation. Each reference is a portion of the authors larger quotation of Job 5:1726. The
author instructed his audience to pray for those living in some form of transgression (
) in the surrounding context (56.1). He also used this as an opportunity to instruct
his readership to willingly receive all forms of divine discipline (56.2). Thus, he seems to have
piled up several OT passages that would confirm or agree with his instructionnamely,
Proverbs 3:12, Psalm 140:5 (LXX), and Job 5:1726. The author provided these passages with

10

1 Cor 4:2; 15:15; 2 Cor 5:3; 9:4; 11:12; 12:20bis; Gal 2:17; Phil 2:7; 3:9; 2 Tim 1:18. The wider
context also reveals author of 1 Clem. had exposure to Paul (49.5): Love unites us with God; love covers a
multitude of sins; love endures all things, is patient in all things. There is nothing coarse, nothing arrogant in
love This should recall in the readers mind 1 Cor 13 which also has eschatological overtones.
11

See BDAG s.v. .

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little to no explanation for why he chose them or what he understood each one to mean; thus, we
cannot know whether he understood to be emphatic or mild negation.
Overall, the purpose of this paper is not to prove that each occurrence of the double
negation in the AF is either emphatic or mild. The papers purpose is to explore this negation in
the Apostolic Fathers and to draw conclusions from the exploration.
Allusion
Allusions cover a wide range of possibilities, anywhere from a periphrastic
summaries of a cited source to shared vocabulary between the AF reference and another extant
source.12 Several of our references fit this category.
Ign. Smyrn. 10:1 ,
.
They too give thanks to the Lord on our behalf because you refreshed them in
every way. You will certainly not lose any of this.

Mark 9:41

Here is followed by a future indicative, . Ignatius used the double


negation no other time in his letters and his use seems entirely natural. Within the larger context,
Ignatius (as the speaker) was thanking the Smyrnaeans for their refreshment of his fellow
saintshospitality and possibly financial assistance. This use of is flanked by words in
9.12 and 10.12 with eschatological overtones: , , , , and
.13 Therefore, Ignatius seems to make a prediction about the eschatological payoff of these
saints for their service.
This passage may be a strong allusion to Matthew 10:42 or Mark 9:41. To suggest
that this is a conscious recollection of Jesus sayings cannot be determined. It is also difficult to

12

Not all allusions are intentional; see footnote 6.

13
Cf. W. R. Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch: A Commentary on the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch,
Hermeneia ( Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985), 248.

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determine Ignatiuss self-understanding or how his audience perceived him since it is not until
his letters that history records the increasing significance of the office of the bishop.14 The
prediction feels informali.e., it is not a solemn pronouncement about the future that is seen in
Matthew or Mark signaled by Jesus catchphrase, . But it is an eschatological
prediction nonetheless. Therefore, the author seems to strongly deny the possibility that these
Smyrnaean saints will lose their reward for their good deeds. All in all, this data point
demonstrates well some of the interpretative matters that must be taken into consideration for
determining mild or emphatic negation.
In Barnabas 10, the author set before his audience the social implications of the
Mosaic dietary laws (10.1). In other words, the author specified that he was interacting with the
words of Moses by providing the ongoing significance of Mosess words.

Barn. 10.4


, , ,
,
Neither shall you eat the eagle or the hawk or the kite or the crow. You
must not, he means, associate with or even resemble such people, who do not
know how to provide food for themselves by labor and sweat
Three of the four birds in Barn. 10.4 are found in the list of unclean food given in Lev

11:1314 (cf. Deut 11:14ff). The author stated the Mosaic allusion as a negated future indicative
( ). But the lasting significance he gave to it is stated as a double negative with the

future indicative ( ). If the author believed Moses to be an authority for the


Christian, then the author by using most likely intended for his own words to on the
same plain of importance with the Law of Moses; not more and not less. That is, it may possible
the author viewed Mosess command to be emphatic by virtue of its source and by virtue of the

14
See Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 3rd ed.
(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 168.

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future indicatives use as an imperative (which is often emphatic15), and thus the authors
command was equally emphatic by virtue of its construction. Beyond this, it is interesting that
the double negation is thrown forward and separated from the verb it modifieswhich may be
another move of emphasis by the author.16

Barn. 10.6(2)

. ; , ,
.
Furthermore, You shall not eat the hare. Why? Do not become, he means,
one who corrupts children or even resemble such people

When one arrives at 10.6, one finds the first double negation presented within another
allusion to the Mosaic Law. It is not an exact quotation but it probably echoes back to Leviticus
11:45. In Leviticus, the command is in v. 4 and is included on the list of
items not to eat in v. 5. The second double negation is in the statement concerning what the
author believed to be the continuing significance of the passage to which he had just alluded.
Similar to the previous example, the author understood that what Moses had said
carried weight and authority for his contemporary audiencethats why he alluded to it in the
first place. The fact that he rendered the prohibition in Leviticus 11:4 (which contained with a
future indicative) as a double negative with a future indicative, probably means that the author
believed the simple negation with an emphatic future to be semantically equivalent to the double
negation.
Barn. 19.52

Barn. 19.6(2) ,

15

Cf. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New
Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 452.
16
A question that keeps surfacing in this study concerns the nature of emphasis: are there varying
degrees of emphasis? If so, the question of mild or emphatic negation may be misguided.

13
Very similar to the previous quote (10.6), the author recalled a couple commands
from the Ten Commandments and
(Exodus 20:7 and 17 respectively). Barnabas 19.62
shares some conceptual overlap with Barn. 19.61 and may even paraphrase it. What was
translated by the LXX translator as negated future indicatives was rendered by the AF author as
with an aorist subjunctive of and . In the wider context the author alludes
to other commands in the Decalogue. It is likely that his audience knew the origination of these
words. Thus, the commands and prohibitions would carry a similar degree of solemnity from the
context in which they were first spoken. Therefore, the emphatic force is likely in force.
Herm. Mand. 39.2 ,
, ,
, ,

Do not reason in this way, but turn to the Lord with all your heart and ask of
him unhesitatingly, and you will know his extraordinary compassion, because
he will never abandon you but will fulfill your souls request.
Heb 13:4

Deut 31:6


With this passage, since the allusion belongs to both the LXX and the NT, it may be

more difficult to determine which has the primary influence. The LXX reference is a stronger
parallel in terms of the word choice and the tense, mood, person, and number of the verb
. In the context, the angelic Shepherd instructed Hermas to not cower from bringing
prayer requests before the Lord. What should undergird the confidence Hermas has to come
before the Lord, although Hermas is aware of the sin in his own life, was the promise that the
Lord will not abandon Hermas. Thus, it seems that with the weaving of this source into the
structure of his sentence, the Shepherds use of the double negation is emphatic. Otherwise, the
value of his point is weakened considerably.

14
Herm. Mand. 39.5 , .
, ,

But if you hesitate in your heart, you will certainly not receive any of your
requests. For those who hesitate in their relation to God are the doubleminded, and they never obtain any of their requests.
Jas 1:78

,
,
The parallel is distant with this reference; a faint allusion. But similar terms like the

future indicative of and the term (which James may well have coined) tie the
passages together. In the context, the angelic Shepherd advises Hermas to pray to God without
hesitation. The fact that the negation is in an apodosis of a third class condition (there will be a
couple more in our references), seems to draw some attention to it. Also, the accusative direct
object, , could have been chosen for emphasis as well. Considering these details together, it
is likely that the author intended an emphatic force for the double negation.
We have chosen to tackle the following three AF references at once. In all three
references the author of Barnabas interacted with an unknown source that he and probably his
audience considered authoritative. He first quoted the source or broadly alluded to it, and then he
provided an interpretation of the larger meaning or ongoing significance of the command and
prohibition just like with the Mosaic material.

Barn. 10.5

, , , ,

And you shall not eat, he says, sea eel or cuttlefish. You must not, he
means, even resemble such people

Barn. 10.7

, ,

Again, Neither shall you eat the hyena. Do not become, he means, an
adulterer or a seducer, or even resemble such people

Barn. 10.8

. , , ,

But he also hated the weasel, and with good reason. Do not become, he
means, like those men who, we hear, with immoral intent do things with the
mouth that are forbidden

15
It is apparent in each reference that the author intended his words to be taken on the
same authority as the source he interacted with. Would it be probable that the author intended his
audience to take his words as more authoritative as the source with which he interacts? To argue
that they are more emphatic may be misguided. He seems to take a preexisting command and
provide the ongoing moralistic and relational significance. Put differently: his command falls in
line or is the extension of the one he and his audience have previously received. For that reason,
it is probable that we have another example of the shared domain in Barnabas between the
negated future indicative and the doubly negated future indicative and aorist subjunctive.
Independent
The following examples of the double negation are free from literary dependence on
the LXX, NT, or any other known source.
Barn. 11.1


. ,
,
.
But let us inquire whether the Lord took care to foreshadow the water and the
cross. Now concerning the water, it is written with reference to Israel that they
would never accept the baptism that brings the forgiveness of sins, but would
create a substitute for themselves.
We provided a more extensive translation than other references for the readers

convenience. We must note several things: (1) this reference marks the change to a new subject
with Barnabasnamely, what God has made known beforehand concerning Christian rites; (2)
this reference introduces a slew of OT prophetic quotations within the paragraphe.g., Jeremiah
2:1212; Isaiah 16:12; 45:23 etc.; and (3) the author intends the several quotations which
follow to demonstrate Israels stiff, even permanent, unreceptivity to the Christian rite of
baptism. Although it may be untrue, it provides a window into the Jew-Gentile relations of the
day by exposing the authors mind on the unlikelihood of Jewish individuals joining the
Christian faith. This may be another clear example of the emphatic use of the double negation.

16
,
.
For if I should write to you about things present or things to come, you would
never understand, because they are found in parables.

Barn. 17:2

This use of is followed by an aorist subjunctive and is within the apodosis of a


third class condition. The author maintained that he has chosen educational subjects e.g., the
nature of the temple for Christians (16.1ff) his audience can understand (17.1). For if he were
to hypothetically stray from this content toward present or future things (cf. Rom 8:38), the
readers would have absolutely no chance of understanding. Thus, the writer presents his
audience with a hypothetical situation which will not occur.17
In this instance, we believe that it is partly because of the nature of the sentence (third
class condition) that emphasis would naturally fall upon the apodosis. This is another clear
example of an emphatic negation in the AF.
, , .
. ...
You shall not be sexually promiscuous; you shall not commit adultery; you
shall not corrupt children. The word of God shall not go forth from you
among any who are unclean. You shall not show partiality

Barn. 19.4

Barnabas 19 is a list of positive and negative commands that catalogue The Way of
Light (19.1). The double negation with an aorist subjunctive verb in 19.4 falls within this list
surrounded by prohibitions that are negated future indicatives. It is difficult to assign a
sense which differs dramatically from the prohibitions surrounding it. In other words, who
would want to produce the following reading, You shall not corrupt children, and by no means
shall Gods word go forth from you among the unclean?18 This would mean that it is slightly
less heinous to corrupt children or to commit adultery than it is to preach among the unclean. It is

17

Cf. Wallace, ExSyn, 696.

18
This is not a summary statement for the commands thus far, and nothing would indicate that
grammatically or even interpretatively; this prohibition simply falls on a list without pauses or breaks.

17
more natural to see that the author believed the weightiness of his own words. Thus, he intended
his words to be obeyed whether he used with the future indicative or with the aorist
subjunctive.
It is our assessment, therefore, that and in this reference share no distinction
in the authors mind. This does not preclude the possibility of emphasis since a future indicative
functioning as an imperative can be quite emphatic.19 It may mean that in a list of commands
where each as important as the other, the double negation may be used for stylistic variation.
Barnabas 19.53

,
.
You must not withhold your hand from your son or daughter, but from their
youth you shall teach them the fear of the Lord.

This is very similar to the reference above. It is preceded by prohibitions of abortion


and infanticide which are with future indicatives (19.5). Then the charge to discipline ones
son or daughter comes as with the aorist subjunctive. Once again, it would be difficult to
argue distinction in sense between the simple negation and double negation. In other words,
when the double negation is found within an unbroken chain of prohibitions of with the future
indicative, it is nearly impossible to differentiate its sense. Since we know that the list in this
circumstance has significance for ones eternal destiny, it is most likely that each item in the list
shares the same degree of emphasis.20 If someone wants a positive eternal outcome, they had
better mind all the commands on the list equally.

Herm. Vis. 50.5

19

, ,
,
For if you should want to return to your city, you will certainly not be
accepted, because you have renounced the law of your city, and will be shut
out of it.

See fn. 15.

20
See 21.1: For the one who does these things will be glorified in the kingdom of God; the one who
chooses their opposites will perish together with his or her works. The way of darkness is expounded in 20.12.

18
By the time the reader arrives at the first parable, Hermas has sustained a lengthy
dialogue between him and the angelic Shepherd since the fifth vision. The Shepherd (the
speaker) presented the tension between eschatology and historical rootedness in a parable
about two citiesone heavenly and the other earthly21. In other words, there is some
eschatological nuance beneath the parable.
The negation in the present reference is in the apodosis of a third class condition. And
it seems with the future indicative is used to deny emphatically the possibility for
readmission to a city where one has renounced its laws and values. And the continuing
explanation (...) explains why readmission would be impossible. Thus, the double negation
retains an emphatic force here.
Other
In the course of surveying a number AF references with the double negation, it
became clear that a few references were very similar between the Didache and Barnabas. This
has been a somewhat popular topic in current scholarship.22 The general consensus is that neither
is literarily dependent upon the other, but rather both authors are dependent up a common Two
Ways document.23 In the analysis which follows, AF references will be analyzed in pairs. The
English translations were not provided since the focus should be upon the similarities in the
Greek text.

Did. 4.10

( )
,

Barn.19.7(2)

,
,

21

Carolyn Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999), 158.

Consult Jonathan A. Draper, Barnabas and the Riddle of the Didache Revisited, Journal for the
Study of the New Testament 58 (1995): 89113.
22

23

Ibid., 89.

19
If one compares the beginning of each line, she will see the same verb follows a
negationin the first line it is with the future indicative of , and in the second line
it is with the aorist subjunctive of . One cannot say that either form predates the
other with any degree of confidence. But it is most probable that each author would find his
companions work roughly synonymous to his own. In other words, with the aorist
subjunctive carries the same force as with the future indicative.
The latter half of each sentence is identical. Both references lack a true speaker. In
other words, the sentences above are found in paraenesis and not on the lips of a real or
hypothetical character unlike Matt 25:9, which is the only other instance of in both
the LXX and NT.24 Nevertheless, is a marker of negated purpose and is an emphatic form
of .25 We conclude, therefore, it is likely that in with the future indicative
, in addition to , intensifies the potential negative consequence if the
prohibition in the previous clause is ignored.

Did. 4.4

Barn. 19.51

This pair is similar to the one above. It may demonstrate that the author of Barnabas
stylistically favored the double negation with the aorist subjunctive over a negated future
indicative. Before one dismisses this outright, she should consider Barnabas contains the greatest
frequency of the double negation in the AF. However, this point would say more than the
evidence permits since the double negation with the aorist subjunctive could be the form found
within the Two Ways common source.

Note that in every independent use of in Paul, which some might say are all situated in
paraenesis, there is a spoken quality i.e., its like a sermon not found in Barnabas or the Didache (cf. 1 Cor
8:13; Gal 5:16; 1 Thess 4:15; 5:3).
24

25

BDAG s.v. 2b.

20
Did.4.13

Barn.19.2


Once again, the Didache and Barnabas are identical. Both prohibitions are found

within lists of other commands and prohibitions but each books respective lists differ from each
other. Each authors command falls within extended discourse on the way of life (Did. 1.2; Barn.
19.1). As we concluded earlier, eternal destiny rested upon obedience to these commands. They
are indeed emphatic but not necessarily to the double negation alone.26
Section Three: Preliminary Conclusions
The first section of the paper expressed some of the introductory matters that
provided a foundation for the rest of the paper. The second section analyzed the list of AF
references. The third section now summarizes the findings of second sections analysis. Our
findings can be summarized in the following table.
Emphatic Negation
1 Clem. 50.6
Ign. Smyrn. 10.1
Herm. Mand. 39.2, 5
Herm. Vis. 50.5
Barn. 10.4; 11.1; 17.2

Unique Examples
Barn. 10.6(2); 19.2, 4,
5(3), 6(2), 7(2)
Did. 4.10, 13

Inconclusive
1 Clem. 56. 10, 11, 13

Table 6 Categorization of the Double Negation in the Apostolic Fathers

Emphatic Negation
We noted eight occurrences of in the AF with emphatic negation. In our
estimation, this means that the author used the double negation (or cited a source that contained
it) for the express purpose of making an emphatic statement. In three of these eight occurrences,
the double negation is within in the apodosis of a third class condition; it would appear that the

26

It may be observed that the double negation is not used in the way emphatic negation is normally
used. The idea is in this passage is you must not do this rather than you will surely not do this. But this is not
without its parallels within Barn. 19.57.

21
negation was used emphatically to rule out the possibility of the event in the apodosis (Barn.
17.2; Herm. Mand. 39.5 and Vis. 50.5). In two occurrences, the negation fell within a quotation
or strong allusion to bolster Christian character and confidence (1 Clem. 50.6; Herm. Mand.
39.2). Beyond this, it appears once in a prediction about the eschaton (Ign. Smyrn. 10.1), once as
a description for a permanent and historical reality from the perspective of an author (Barn.
11.1), and once in an emphatic position within the sentence (Barn. 10.4). Therefore, it seems that
could be used for emphatic negation within the Hellenistic period.
Unique Examples
There were a number of difficult passages to decipher in Barnabas (and in parallel
passages in the Didache). These passages are under Unique Cases in the table. They were
difficult to decipher for a number of reasons: (1) the emphatic weight given to the wider context
of these references by the author was apparent; (2) prohibitions with the double negation were
often surrounded by prohibitions formed by with future indicative verbs; and (3) prohibitions
with the double negation were never more emphatic than the other prohibitions formed by
with future indicative verbsi.e., they always appeared synonymous. We may conclude based
on these three observations that the negated future verb was, at times, equally as emphatic as
doubly negated aorist subjunctives or future indicatives. Nevertheless, both types of prohibition
were emphatic and not mild.
Inconclusive
Finally, there were three references from 1 Clement that offer no insight into the force
of the double negation. This is largely because each use of the double negation is within a
quotation from the LXX and the author failed to interact with the quotation enough to show his
intention.

22
Conclusion
These conclusions largely authenticate our thesisnamely, this study recommends
that in the Apostolic Fathers has retained its emphatic force from classical Greek. As we
suggested in the first section, if the double negation was used emphatically in the Apostolic
Fathers, which represents a time beyond the Septuagint and New Testament, then it may very
well carry the same emphatic force in biblical documents. One must do the tedious work of
examining each occurrence of the double negation in order to show definitely whether or not the
translator or author intended emphasis.

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