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if thy right eye offend thee Options
lazarius
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 10:19:24 AM

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https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/mat/5

Quote:
Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Mat 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Both look and offend are used in the third person, the former is inflected, the latter not. Why is it not put in its proper third person singular form - offendeth?

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thar
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 11:30:48 AM

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This sort of language looks like it is from the King James Bible, written in the early 1600s but in slightly old-fashioned language at the time.
Shakespeare is contemporary and has the same issues.

This is the time when Middle English was evolving into Early Modern English
Thee and thou were becoming 'you' (ie you was becoming both singular and plural, not just plural) and the 'est /eth' endings were disappearing. So it is like a half-moulted animal. Some words are Mediaeval English - thou goest, and some are like Modern English - he goes.

It made sense to them at the time.

It was not a simple switchover, like driving on the right or new currency. It was a natural, messy and inconsistent evolution of language.

Compare the Wycliffe Bible, 1395, in Middle English

Quote:
28 But Y seie to you, that euery man that seeth a womman for to coueite hir, hath now do letcherie bi hir in his herte.
29 That if thi riyt iye sclaundre thee, pulle hym out, and caste fro thee; for it spedith to thee, that oon of thi membris perische, than that al thi bodi go in to helle.


and you can imagine the modern, colloquial version.
What you are seeing is the period of transition.

lazarius
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 11:43:51 AM

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thar wrote:
Thee and thou were becoming 'you' and the 'est /eth' endings were disappearing. So it is like a half-moulted animal. Some words are Mediaeval English - thou goest, and some are like Modern English - he goes.

This would be a good explanation if it were Shakespeare. You will find both grammars in his plays. But this is the King James Bible. You will find both goest and goeth in it but not a single occurrence of goes. :(

thar wrote:
Quote:
28 But Y seie to you, that euery man that seeth a womman for to coueite hir, hath now do letcherie bi hir in his herte.
29 That if thi riyt iye sclaundre thee, pulle hym out, and caste fro thee; for it spedith to thee, that oon of thi membris perische, than that al thi bodi go in to helle.

It looks like sclaundre is not inflected here. Can it be because it is used in the if clause?

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thar
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 11:49:04 AM

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Maybe it hadn't gone yet! Whistle
But there are modern words and word order. It was written by committee.
And, heck, maybe that was the subjunctive!

thy right eye offendeth me

if thy right eye offend thee...
lazarius
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 12:01:02 PM

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thar wrote:
And, heck, maybe that was the subjunctive!

thy right eye offendeth me

if thy right eye offend thee...

Probably. Can you take a look at this:

https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/search.php?q=if+thou

I see that doest, knowest, hast, wilt and shalt are inflected. All the other verbs including be are not.

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Gabriel82
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 12:26:30 PM

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Lazarius,

You may or may not need the modern English equivalent, but all I could suggest is to do two things:

1) Use a parallel version, like a 1611 KJV or more recent KJV against a New King James Bible. Bible Gateway will give you more translations, but Blue Letter Bible is good for what it has.

2) if you want to be sure of the word, look up the corresponding Greek (New Testament) or Hebrew (Old Testament) number reference in a Strong's Concordance (both Old and New Testaments) or for greater depth in the Old Testament, a Brown-Driver-Briggs Concordance. Sometimes you can also check the Vine's Concordance for help.
lazarius
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 12:44:15 PM

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Thank you for the references Gabriel.
But I do not need to investigate concordance or even import of the Bible. After all I can read it in Russian and I am an unregenerate atheist. I am interested in this older grammar. And the King James Bible is probably the best available example of it. They must have followed certain grammar rules.

I read Mathew about a year ago but then I didn't notice this variance. Yesterday I came across this verse in a book by Kurt Vonnegut and it struck me as wrong. But then I checked on the BLB site and it proved to be correct. Hence my question.

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NKM
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 7:37:45 PM

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The present subjunctive is a part of that "older grammar"; yet it is still in use to this day by many careful speakers and writers (like me).


Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 8:38:09 PM

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When I was at school (probably when I was about ten years old in 1960 or so) we were taught about "conditional forms", no-one ever mentioned the word 'subjunctive' - fairly recently, I've learned that in the "if" clause, it's a subjunctive.

"If I were you, I'd be very unhappy."
"If he were a bit younger, he'd still be a boy."
"If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out . . ."
"If he look on a woman, he hath committed adultery."


The original verse 28 is not phrased as a conditional.

**************
We also used thee, thou, thy, art, hast and so on in normal conversation (but it was frowned upon at school, except during prayers).

**************
To me, the KJV is just borderline Modern English - barely. (I think it's considered "Early Modern English").

Though most of the inflections have gone, you can still see some.
Also the meanings of some words have evolved. Wycliffe's "letcherie" had been re-phrased as "adultery" (I have no idea what the original Aramaic said).
What's the Russian translation?

I think you're right - that whole verse 29 in Wycliffe's version is podd, with the two 'that clauses' in the subjunctive, though they wouldn't be in modern English.

sclaundre, perische and go are all uninflected base-forms - "bare infinitives" (the common subjunctive form).
lazarius
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 11:32:14 PM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
What's the Russian translation?

There are two authorized versions. The Church Slavonic which is used in church but nobody understands what they are reading. Because of that a Russian translation was made in the 19th century. It is called the Synodal translation and is authorized by the Church for public use. It has:

http://www.patriarchia.ru/bible/mf/5/

Quote:
Матфея
5:28 А Я говорю вам, что всякий, кто смотрит на женщину с вожделением, уже прелюбодействовал с нею в сердце своем.
5:29 Если же правый глаз твой соблазняет тебя, вырви его и брось от себя, ибо лучше для тебя, чтобы погиб один из членов твоих, а не все тело твое было ввержено в геенну.

The most common meaning of the verb соблазнять is to seduce as women seduce us, but here it means to tempt, to provoke. And it can only be understood as a current state of temptation while the English version may be understood as a future event of offence.

UPDATE
I've just noticed that you were asking about the adultery part. :) Yes it is adultery (прелюбодеяние) but phrased differently - you have already fornicated (прелюбодействовал). I'm not sure if the verb fornicate has cheating on your spouse in it but it should.

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