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Sorry if this question is not appropriate for this site or a'bit stupid, I don't know Greek myself, just looked at the translations on biblehub and I was wondering wether what is often translated as 'shall' is necessary in the Greek? If it is an 'englishisum' carried over from the Shakespearean English translation of the KJV? Or if it is ambiguous? Essentially help me understand words please!

I'm curious if this verse is a decree, of sorts, that everyone will love God; (youngs literal, Mark 12:30) "and thou shalt love the Lord thy God out of all thy heart, and out of thy soul, and out of all thine understanding, and out of all thy strength — this [is] the first command;"

καὶ ἀγαπήσεις Κύριον τὸν Θεόν σου ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς διανοίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ἰσχύος σου.

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The first thing you should do when you see an odd thing in an English translation is check more translations. Biblehub makes that easy. There you can see that even some modern translations still use "shall", while others use "must", and some use an imperative verb.

If you don't know Greek grammar, or don't have access to better resources, Biblehub also has an adequate morphological breakdown of the verse. So we can see there's only one verb, ἀγαπήσεις, which is V-FIA-2S, or Future Indicative Active, with a second person singular subject. So a naive initial translation would be "You will love the lord your god..."

But the next question is does the Future verb form in Greek convey everything that "will" does in English today? There are two major senses that are relevant here. Wallace (in Beyond the Basics) calls them the Predictive Future and the Imperative Future. The Predictive is the normal future we use in English, when you're describing an event you're fairly certain will occur in the future. The Imperative Future is an alternative to giving a command in the imperative verb form. We have this in English too; imagine a parent saying to their teenager "You will be home by 10pm." I think it's worth pointing out that these two senses of the future represent two of the major categories of modality: Epistemic and Deontic modality.

So which sense is it? The Predictive Future would mean that Jesus is prophesying that in the future all people will actually genuinely love God. The Imperative Future would mean that Jesus is giving a command to love God. Well context makes it crystal clear which option we choose:

Mark 12:28-30 (NIV): One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

So even though English does have the imperative/deontic sense of "will", because it's not as common and is a quite marked expression, most translations choose to convey the sense of the imperative through either a direct imperative English verb construction, or through another modal verb like "shall" or "must".

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Mark 12:30 is a quotation of Deut. 6:4–5 in the O.T. The verb ἀγαπήσεις is conjugated in the 2nd person, future tense, indicative mood from the lemma ἀγαπῶ (ἀγαπάω). The Greek grammars are unanimous in stating that the verb conjugated in the future tense, indicative mood can be be used as an imperative, especially in the N.T. citations of the O.T. legal texts.

Blass:1

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Buttmann:2

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Crosby:3

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Goodwin:4

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Kühner:5

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Matthiae:6

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Simonson:7

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Winer:8

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Footnotes

1 Blass, p. 209, §64.3
2 Buttmann, p. 257, §139
3 Crosby, p. 295, §597
4 Goodwin, p. 19, §69
5 Kühner, p. 70, §406.4
6 Matthiae, p. 837, §498
7 Simonson, p. 192, §1923
8 Winer, p. 396397, Sec. XLIII, 5., c.

References

Blass, Friedrich Wilhelm. Grammar of New Testament Greek. Trans. Thackeray, Henry St. John. 2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.

Buttmann, Alexander. A Grammar of the New Testament Greek. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Andover: Draper, 1873.

Crosby, Alpheus. A Compendious Grammar of the Greek Language. New York: Woolworth, 1871.

Goodwin, William Watson. Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb. Boston: Ginn, 1893.

Kühner, Raphael. A Grammar of the Greek Language, Chiefly from the German of Raphael Kühner. Trans. Jelf, William Edward. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Oxford: Wright, 1851.

Matthiae, August Heinrich. A Copious Greek Grammar. 5th ed. Vol. 2. London: Murray, 1832.

Simonson, Gustave. A Greek Grammar: Syntax. London: Sonnenschein, 1911.

Winer, George Benedikt. A Treatise on the Grammar of New Testament Greek. 3rd ed. Trans. Moulton, William Fiddian. Edinburgh: Clark, 1882.

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What does Mark 12:30 Say

καὶ - regular conjunction (and)
ἀγαπήσεις - Agape - ungap - (Love) - Verb, future indicative active, second person singular (you will love)
Κύριον τὸν Θεόν - (the Lord God)
σου - (of you) - with the previous (your Lord God)
ἐξ - Alternative form of ἐκ used before vowels, governs the genitive (out of)
ὅλης - holēs - (whole)
τῆς - Genitive Article (of the)
καρδίας - kardias - cardiac (heart)
σου - (of you) - same as earlier (your heart)
καὶ - regular conjunction (and) - same as earlier
ἐξ - (out of) - same as earlier
ὅλης - holēs - (whole) - same as earlier
τῆς - Genitive Article (of the) - same as earlier
ψυχῆς - psychēs - psych - root of psychology (emotion)
σου - (of you) (your emotion)
καὶ - regular conjunction (and)
ἐξ - (out of)
ὅλης - holēs - (whole)
τῆς - Genitive Article (of the)
διανοίας - δια like diameter meaning (through) - νοίας (mind) ((thought)) σου - (of you) (your thought)
καὶ - regular conjunction (and)
ἐξ - (out of)
ὅλης - holēs - (whole)
τῆς - Genitive Article (of the)
ἰσχύος - (force)
σου - (of you) (your force)

The Build

and you will love your Lord God out of whole of your heart and out of whole of your emotion and out of whole of the your thought and out of whole of your force.

Grammatical Listing for English

and you will love your Lord God out of whole of your heart, emotion, thought, and force.

Substituting 'out of' -> 'with'

and you will love with your Lord God whole of your heart, emotion, thought, and force.

Placing the adjective

and you will love with your Lord God of your whole heart, emotion, thought, and force.

Substituting 'of' -> 'using'

and you will love with your Lord God using your whole heart, emotion, thought, and force.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength -NKJV

Conclusion

Mark 12:30 explicitly says whoever puts their everything at God, will love.

Whoever puts their everything at Love, will love.

  • Thanks a lot, I sort of get it. I see how the conclusion is consistent with everything you wrote. But I don't quite see where the 'whoever' came from. – E22 Jul 5 at 19:49
  • In the context σου (of you) second person singular speaks directly at the listener. Whoever creates the class of those this command directs at. "... No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6b NKJV) and many others here: bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Being-Chosen – Decrypted Jul 5 at 20:05
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    What is your basis for translating ἀγαπήσεις as "connect"? Which dictionaries support that meaning? – curiousdannii Jul 5 at 23:33
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    @Decrypted Are you seriously saying that ἀγαπάω comes from the English word "gap"? – curiousdannii Jul 6 at 3:17
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    @E22 Please don't mistake this answer for a legitimate interpretation. The verb does not mean "connect". – curiousdannii Jul 6 at 13:55

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