Hortatory Subjunctive as Theological Tool

Latin was my favorite subject in school.  And although my father teased me about the hours I spent preparing for the word derivative contest at the yearly Latin convention (at which we wore togas), I still look back with fondness at this manifestation of my generally nerdy childhood.

And of all the Latin I learned, the “hortatory subjunctive” thrilled me most.  Probably because I just like saying the two words together.  But also, knowing about it made me feel smart (even when I didn’t know, and still have trouble remembering, the difference between bacterial and viral infections and couldn’t always remember the 13 colonies).  Any girl in possession of  knowledge about hortatory subjunctive can’t be a dummy, I figured.

But recently I decided that my beloved HS (it’s a finger-twister to type it) has theological implications for me.  I once wrote about “Y’all” being a perfect description of the trinity… so perhaps I’ll start collecting theology of grammar ideas.

Anyway, the hortatory subjunctive is a grammatical manifestation of a spiritual gift — exhortation (generally using the phrase “let’s”).

As in “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23) or “Let us break their chains and throw off their fetters” (Psalm 2:3) or “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18) or “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19).

In short, I love grammar.  And I love the idea that God exhorts us and we exhort each other, and it’s all hortatory subjunctive to me.


~ by Cary on June 16, 2010.

2 Responses to “Hortatory Subjunctive as Theological Tool”

  1. oh, a fellow gramophile! Never took Latin but I always saw theological implications in Greek and Hebrew — I especially liked the ‘cohortative’ — as in “Let us make man in our image…”

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