Latin/Grammar

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Question
Dear Maria,

ego scio quos elegrim.(John 13:18)
I know (thsoe) whom I have chosen.

I wonder why subjunctive was used in the sentence.
And what's the difference of meaning in case of indicative mood, if used?

Thank you.

J

Answer
Dear John,

It is true that  in  John 13:18 of the  so-called Vulgate, i.e. the late fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible commissioned to St. Jerome by Pope Damasus I,  we read “ego scio quos elegerim” with the perfect subjunctive, but in the original Greek there is just the aorist  indicative ἐξελεξάμην, which is nothing but a perfect indicative meaning “I have chosen” or "I chose".

So, in St. Jerome  there is an improper use of the  subjunctive instead of the indicative that we read in ancient Greek.

I have in fact to tell you that the Latin language used by St. Jerome in the late 4th century AD is quite different from the classical Latin where the subjunctive was used to denote a possibility, while the Indicative was the mood of direct assertions, just like in “ego scio quos elegi”(literally, “I know those whom I have chosen/I chose) which would correspond exactly to the original Greek ἐγὼ οἶδα τίνας ἐξελεξάμην (John 13:18).

Best regards,

Maria

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Maria

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I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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