Working on a natural language parser and I realized I don't have much a firm handle on how to come at sentences such as the following:

"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light" (Genesis 1:3 KJV).

"May grace and peace be multiplied to you" (1 Peter 1:2 HCSB).

These both seem to convey some sense of desiring something to be [done], so I don't think "let" or "may" can quite qualify as auxiliaries. Any thoughts?

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To let in "Let there be light." is used to make a third party imperative sentence. It can be rephrased to

I command (order) that there should be light.

It doesn't convey a sense of desiring something, rather ordering something to happen. In other words, it is not desired that there should be light, but there must be light because God says so.

If you contrast "Ask him to carry the bag." with "Let him carry the bag", the former indicates a request, but the latter a command that he should carry the bag.

May is one of the modal verbs in English and it could be used in a optative sentence with which you can express a wish. Your example is in the optative mood which is:

a grammatical mood that indicates a wish or hope. It is similar to the cohortative mood, and is closely related to the subjunctive mood... One uses the modal verb may, e.g. May you have a long life! Another uses the phrase if only with a verb in the past or past subjunctive, e.g. If only I were rich! Another uses the present subjunctive, e.g. God save the Queen!



Those are imperative statements. The popular way to describe them is that there is an implied "You" or "You shall" at the front of it (but that doesn't really work for the second sentence).

To be a little more specific, they are both third-person imperative, as the entity being ordered around in this case isn't necessarily a direct part of the conversation.

Note that the King James Bible, while it has many fine qualities, isn't written in what I would call modern conversational English. So you might not want to use it as a source for a "natural language" parser.

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