[BACK]
361 362 363


THE INFINITIVE.

361. That the Infinitive in Greek had its origin as respects both form and function in a verbal noun, and chiefly at least in the dative case of such a noun, is now regarded as an assured result of comparative grammar. At the time of the earliest Greek literature, however, the other cases of this verbal noun had passed out of use, and the dative function of the form that remained had become so far obscured that, while it still retained the functions appropriate to the dative, it was also used as an accusative and as a nominative. Beginning with Pindar it appears with the article, at first as a subject-nominative. Later it developed also the other cases, accusative, genitive, and dative. By this process its distinctively dative force was obscured while the scope of its use was enlarged. In Post-Aristotelian Greek, notably in the Septuagint and the New Testament, another step was taken. The Infinitive with the article in the genitive began to assume some such prominence as at a much earlier time the dative had acquired, and as before, the sense of its case being in some degree lost, this genitive Infinitive came to be used as a nominative or accusative. We mark therefore four stages of development. First, that for which we must go back of the historic period of the Greek language itself, when the Infinitive was distinctly a dative case. Second, that which is found in Homer: the Infinitive begins to be used as subject or object, though the strictly dative functions still have a certain prominence, and the article is not yet used. Third, that of which the beginnings are seen in Pindar and which is more fully developed in classical authors of a later time: the Infinitive without the article, sometimes with dative functions, sometimes with the force of other cases, is used side by side with the articular Infinitive in the nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative singular.  Fourth, that which appears in the Septuagint and the New Testament: all the usages found in the third stage still continuing, the Infinitive with the article in the genitive begins to lose the sense of its genitive function and to be employed as a nominative or accusative.

From the earliest historic period of the Greek language the Infinitive partakes of the characteristics both of the verb and the noun. As a verb it has a subject more or less definite, and expressed or implied, and takes the adverbial and objective limitations appropriate to a verb. As a noun it fills the office in the sentence appropriate to its case. Many of these case-functions are identical with those which belong to other substantives; some are peculiar to the Infinitive.

REM. Concerning the history of the Infinitive, see G.MT. 742, 788; Gild. in T.A.P.A. 1878, and in A..J.P. III. pp. 193 ff.; IV. pp. 241 ff., pp. 418 ff.; VIII. p. 329; Birklein, Entwickelungsgeschichte des substantivierten Infinitivs, in Schanz, Beiträge zur historischen Syntax der griechisehen Sprache, Heft 7.

362. In the Greek of the classical and later periods, the functions of the Infinitive as an element of the sentence are very various. They may be classified logically as follows:

I. As A PRINCIPAL VERB (364, 365).

II. As A SUBSTANTIVE ELEMENT.

(1) As subject (384, 385, 390, 393, 404).
(2) As object in indirect discourse (390).
(3) As object after verbs of exhorting, striving, promising, hoping, etc. (387-389, 391, 394, 404).
(4) As object after verbs that take a genitive (401-403).
III. As AN ADJECTIVE ELEMENT.
(1) As appositive (386, 395).
(2) Expressing other adnominal limitations (378, 379, 400).
IV. As AN ADVERBIAL ELEMENT, denoting,
(1) Purpose (366, 367, 370 (d), 371 (d), 372, 397).
(2) Indirect object (368).
(3) Result (369-371, 398).
(4) Measure or degree (after adjectives and adverbs) (376, 399).
(5) Manner, means, cause, or respect (375, 377, 396).
(6) A modal modification of an assertion (383).
The articular Infinitive governed by a preposition (406-417) expresses various adverbial relations, the precise nature of which is determined by the meaning of the preposition employed. Similarly pri,n  or pri.n h; with the Infinitive (380-382) constitutes an adverbial phrase of time, the temporal idea lying in pri,n rather than in the Infinitive.

363. To arrange the treatment of the Infinitive on the basis of such a logical classification as that given above (362) would, however, disregard the historical order of development and to some extent obscure the point of view from which the Greek language looked at the Infinitive. It seems better, therefore, to begin with those uses of the Infinitive which are most evidently connected with the original dative function, and proceed to those in which the dative force is vanishing or lost. This is the general plan pursued in the following sections, though it is by no means affirmed that in details the precise order of historical development has been followed.