1

Matthew 6:11 New International Version

Give us today our daily bread.

Give
δὸς (dos)
Verb - Aorist Imperative Active - 2nd Person Singular
Strong's 1325: To offer, give; I put, place. A prolonged form of a primary verb; to give.

Luke 11:3

Give us each day our daily bread.

Give
δίδου (didou)
Verb - Present Imperative Active - 2nd Person Singular
Strong's 1325: To offer, give; I put, place. A prolonged form of a primary verb; to give.

What is the difference between these two imperatives?

Why does Matthew use one form and Luke use another?

Is this a piece of evidence that Jesus didn't teach in Greek but Aramaic?

3
  • And you should/could also possibly consider the difference that these two accounts were about 2 years apart might of made?
    – Dave
    Oct 13 at 18:17
  • Expand it into an answer and I'll upvote it :)
    – Tony Chan
    Oct 13 at 19:20
  • Is this a piece of evidence that Jesus didn't teach in Greek but Aramaic ? - No, it is a piece of evidence that recording devices did not exist in antiquity.
    – Lucian
    Oct 14 at 8:13
2

That's multiple questions wrapped up together!

There is actually some ambiguity as to what the exact distinctions between these verb forms might be, but I'll give you my understanding.

The first point to consider is that an "imperative" word is a command. In Hebrew, the jussive form (command), when used to address God, is usually assumed to express a more modal or subjunctive mood indicating desire or wish, rather than actually being a command. For example: "The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee" (Numbers 6:25, KJV). The reason should be fairly obvious--Who can command God?

Yet in this prayer of Jesus, this line is in the "imperative" tense, which implies one is speaking rather boldly in addressing God.

Luke was not writing to the Jews so much as to the Greeks and/or Gentiles. He would, therefore, have been less shy about using the more common form of address. Matthew, however, was appealing to the Hebrew mindset of the Jews, and his use of the aorist gives it more of the subjunctive mood that our English modal verbs like "might" or "would" might give it. Perhaps it could be translated as "let us be given..." except that it is not a passive voice verb.

Just as in English, when one says something like "pass me the bread, please" at the table, the word "pass" is technically a command--yet it is still acceptable for a child to speak in this manner to an adult--so also is it acceptable in Greek. But using the aorist just makes it more polite, something like the difference between "May I have a glass of water?" and "Might I have a glass of water?" Most people would say that the modal "may" is quite polite already and need not be made more so by using its subjunctive form "might."

As for whether this gives evidence of Jesus having provided the instruction in Aramaic, I am not convinced. I do not think it would be always possible for the disciples to have remembered the exact words, and in fact, in many cases the words they use to tell the same stories do vary slightly from each other. They are expressing the same thoughts, but not necessarily in the same words.

THIS PAGE has a nice explanation of the distinction between and usage for the aorist versus the indicative imperative forms in Greek. It may answer your question more clearly within the context of the grammar itself.

1

This is a mute issue because, unless your are one of the few with the view that Jesus taught in Greek, these passages are a translation of Jesus' discourse in Hebrew/Aramaic.

imperatives in Hebrew/Aramaic don't have tense. Hebrew has perfect tense (completed action) and imperfect (incomplete action), but these tenses don't carry over to the imperative.

Looking at the example below shows the issue is too confusing for a definite answer. The best I can come up with is Matthew looked at the request as the individual snapshots of meals, while Luke at the continual need to eat. Neither is better than the other, and this shows a minimal distinction. The only present imperative in the examples below is an action expected to be continual without ceasing, honoring parents.

Examples

An example of Hebrew imperatives:

שִֽׂים־נָ֣א כָבֹ֗וד לַֽיהוָ֛ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וְתֶן־לֹ֣ו תֹודָ֑ה (in Joshua 7:19, MT) lit. place now glory to the LORD God of Israel and give to him thanksgiving

LXX translates both the same to aorist imperatives:

Δὸς δόξαν σήμερον τῷ κυρίῳ θεῷ Ισραηλ καὶ δὸς τὴν ἐξομολόγησιν (in Joshua 7:19, LXX) lit. give glory today to the Lord God of Israel and give confession

Example of a perfect jussive:

וּנְתַתֶּ֛ם ‬לֵאלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל כָּבֹ֑וד (in 1 Sam. 6:5, MT) lit. and give to the God of Israel glory

LXX translated with aorist imperative (2nd person plural)

καὶ δώσετε τῷ κυρίῳ δόξαν (in 1 Kgdms. 6:5, LXX) lit. and give to the Lord glory

Infinitives with imperative meaning:

זָכֹ֛ור֩‬ אֶת־יֹ֥֨ום הַשַּׁבָּ֖֜ת לְקַדְּשֹֽׁ֗ו (in Exodus 20:8, MT) lit. remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy

LXX translated with aorist passive imperative then present active infinitive

μνήσθητι τὴν ἡμέραν τῶν σαββάτων ἁγιάζειν αὐτήν (in Ex 20:8, LXX) lit. remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

Another Hebrew imperative:

כַּבֵּ֥ד אֶת־אָבִ֖יךָ וְאֶת־אִמֶּ֑ךָ (in Exodus 20:12, MT) lit. honor your father and your mother

LXX used present active imperative:

τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα (in Exodus 20:12, LXX)

P.S. That the tenses don't match is evidence that Jesus' prayer was translated into Greek rather than Jesus giving the prayer in Greek.

1

Too long for a comment:

Non-indicative forms of the aorist [...] are usually purely aspectual [...]

There are aorist infinitives and imperatives that do not imply temporality at all.

For example, the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:11 uses the aorist imperative in Give (δός dós) us this day our daily bread, in contrast to the analogous passage in Luke 11:3, which uses the imperfective aspect, implying repetition, with Give (δίδου dídou, present imperative) us day by day our daily bread.

Wikipedia, Aorist: Greek.

The aorist has often been interpreted as making a strong statement about the aspect or even the time of an event, when, in fact, due to its being the unmarked (default) form of the Greek verb, such implications are often left to context.

Thus, within New Testament hermeneutics, it is considered an exegetical fallacy to attach undue significance to uses of the aorist.

Although one may draw specific implications from an author's use of the imperfective or perfect, no such conclusions can, in general, be drawn from the use of the aorist, which may refer to an action "without specifying whether the action is unique, repeated, ingressive, instantaneous, past, or accomplished."

In particular, the aorist does not imply a "once for all" action, as it has commonly been misinterpreted, although it frequently refers to a simple, non-repeated action.

Wikipedia, Aorist: Hermeneutic Implications.


Recommnended:

0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aorist

There are aorist infinitives and imperatives that do not imply temporality at all. For example, the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:11 uses the aorist imperative in "Give (δός dós) us this day our daily bread",[8] in contrast to the analogous passage in Luke 11:3, which uses the imperfective aspect, implying repetition, with "Give (δίδου dídou, present imperative) us day by day our daily bread."[9]

An example of how the aorist tense contrasts with the imperfect in describing the past occurs in Xenophon's Anabasis, when the Persian aristocrat Orontas is executed: "and those who had been previously in the habit of bowing (προσεκύνουν prosekúnoun, imperfect) to him, bowed (προσεκύνησαν prosekúnēsan, aorist) to him even then."[10] Here the imperfect refers to a past habitual or repeated act, and the aorist to a single one.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.