Time: aorist participle, aorist main verb

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Jonathan Robie
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Time: aorist participle, aorist main verb

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 23rd, 2015, 3:11 pm

I'm used to thinking that a circumstantial aorist participle indicates something that took place before the main verb. Recently, I've been noticing examples where it seems to occur at the same time as the main verb, where both the participle and the main verb are aorist. Here is an example of each, in the same verse:
Luke 9:10 wrote:Καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες οἱ ἀπόστολοι διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ ὅσα ἐποίησαν.

καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς ὑπεχώρησεν κατ’ ἰδίαν εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά.
I assume that the disciples returned and then told Jesus what they had done. If I understand this correctly, you could translate this "and when the apostles returned, they told him what they had done". They must have first returned, then told him.

I assume that Jesus "took them and withdrew", and that these things happened more or less at the same time. You could not translate this "when Jesus took them, he withdrew", that makes no sense. It should be translated "Jesus took them and withdrew", which feels like simultaneous action to me. He couldn't have taken them first, without taking them in a particular direction, this is happening at the same time as withdrawing.

Did I get this right? Do I need a more sophisticated set of rules for the time of the main verb and the time of the aorist? Or should I say that it is generally prior but sometimes it is more or less simultaneous?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Time: aorist participle, aorist main verb

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 23rd, 2015, 3:35 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:I'm used to thinking that a circumstantial aorist participle indicates something that took place before the main verb. Recently, I've been noticing examples where it seems to occur at the same time as the main verb, where both the participle and the main verb are aorist. Here is an example of each, in the same verse:
Luke 9:10 wrote:Καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες οἱ ἀπόστολοι διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ ὅσα ἐποίησαν.

καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς ὑπεχώρησεν κατ’ ἰδίαν εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά.
I assume that the disciples returned and then told Jesus what they had done. If I understand this correctly, you could translate this "and when the apostles returned, they told him what they had done".

I assume that Jesus "took them and withdrew", and that these things happened more or less at the same time. You could not translate this "when Jesus took them, he withdrew", that makes no sense. It should be translated "Jesus took them and withdrew", which feels like simultaneous action to me.

Did I get this right? Do I need a more sophisticated set of rules for the time of the main verb and the time of the aorist? Or should I say that it is generally prior but sometimes it is more or less simultaneous?
This is consistent with Wallace's comments on the time of the participle.
Wallace - pg 614 wrote:The aorist participle, for example, usually denotes antecedent time to that of the controlling verb.1 But if the main verb is also aorist, this participle may indicate contemporaneous time.2 The perfect participle also indicates antecedent time. The present participle is used for contemporaneous time. (This contemporaneity, however, is often quite broadly conceived, depend­ing in particular on the tense of the main verb.) The future participle denotes subsequent time
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Re: Time: aorist participle, aorist main verb

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 23rd, 2015, 3:38 pm

Thanks - that seems right.

(Now you could really mess with my mind by finding examples where the aorist participle is subsequent to the controlling verb ...)
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Time: aorist participle, aorist main verb

Post by George F Somsel » May 23rd, 2015, 3:44 pm

Καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες οἱ ἀπόστολοι διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ
I would understand this as "When they had returned, the apostles told him …"
Καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς ὑπεχώρησεν
This I would understand as "When he had corralled them [gathered them together] he withdrew"

In both cases the action of the aorist participle precedes that of the aorist main verb.
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Re: Time: aorist participle, aorist main verb

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 23rd, 2015, 6:43 pm

Another way to look at it is that one interpretation of the aorist is the ingressive (entry into a state or event), so the preceding aorist participles that look contemporaneous may well just be expressing that the ingression is antecedent to main verb. The choice between such an aorist participle and the present would be driven by discourse concerns (on-line or off-line, respectively).
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Re: Time: aorist participle, aorist main verb

Post by mwpalmer » May 25th, 2015, 12:56 pm

I'm sitting at a coffee shop with Jonathan Robie, and we've been discussing this issue of the aorist particle with an aorist main verb. I thought I would share what I think about the issue. Morphological forms (aorist in this case) correlate with semantic values that have fuzzy edges. It is the case that aorist participles signal antecedent action, but the borders of what counts as "antecedent" are less clear than we would like them to be. Likewise, the present participle signals contemporaneous action, but the borders of what counts as contemporaneous are fuzzier that we would prefer. These categories work extremely well most of the time, but it is completely natural that there would be contexts in which precision is difficult to impose.

Καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς ὑπεχώρησεν

I could translate this with a clear sequential meaning: "And having gathered them together, he left."
I could also translate it using a contemporaneous meaning: "He gathered them and left" (i.e. "He took them with him.")

These differences seem to me licensed not only by the slight fuzziness of the boundaries between aorist and present implications, but by the polysemy of παραλαμβάνω between the meanings "take (along)" and "receive" and even "gather". In Herodotus and Plutarch it even occasionally suggested "invite."
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Re: Time: aorist participle, aorist main verb

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 29th, 2015, 6:40 pm

For what it's worth, one of the most common examples of this form involves constructions like this:
ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν
Is there a reasonable way to interpret that with a sequential interpretation? And why is it that we don't see this verb with a present participle even once in the New Testament? Ezekiel 14:3 does give us this use of a present participle:
Ezekiel 14:3 wrote:εἰ ἀποκρινόμενος ἀποκριθῶ αὐτοῖς;
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Time: aorist participle, aorist main verb

Post by cwconrad » July 30th, 2015, 6:59 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:For what it's worth, one of the most common examples of this form involves constructions like this:
ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν
Is there a reasonable way to interpret that with a sequential interpretation? And why is it that we don't see this verb with a present participle even once in the New Testament? Ezekiel 14:3 does give us this use of a present participle:
Ezekiel 14:3 wrote:εἰ ἀποκρινόμενος ἀποκριθῶ αὐτοῖς;
Jonathan, I think that in both examples that you've cited we're dealing with conversion into Greek of a Hebrew construction (correct me, please, Ken or others better cognizant of representation of Hebrew in LXX Greek):
The first, ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν is actually a good Greek formulation of the standard Hebrew narrative formula regularly Englished as "and he answered and said ... " In the Hebrew it's two 3d sg. perfects connected by the vav. But it doesn't mean that the two "actions" are consecutive; better English would be, "In response he said ... " or simply "he replied ... " It should be noted again here, as I think was indicated earlier in this thread, that an aorist participle construed with an aorist verb does not at all necessarily indicate action prior to the time of the main verb.

The second example, εἰ ἀποκρινόμενος ἀποκριθῶ αὐτοῖς; is an instance of the Hebrew "construct-infinitive": an infinitive is prefixed to a finite verb in order to intensify the meaning (here a sarcastic rhetorical question: "Am I really to be expected to give them an oracle?"). The LXX translator ordinarily converted the Hebrew construction into a combination of aorist participle of the same verb as the main verb. Cf. Conyweare & Stock, LXX Greek Grammar, §81:
§81. The Intensive Participle. On the other hand there is a cause in operation in the LXX tending to an unnecessary use of participles. For in place of a cognate dative we often find the participle used along with a finite form of the same verb, to convey the intensive force that is accomplished in Hebrew by the addition of the infinitive to the finite verb, e.g. —
Gen 22:17 εἰ μὴν εὐλογῶν εὐλογήσω σε, καὶ πληθύνων πληθυνῶ τὸ σπέρμα σου.
Jdg. 11:25 μὴ μαχόμενος ἐμαχεσατο μετὰ Ἰσραὴλ ἢ πολεμῶν ἐπολέμησεν αὐτόν;
We might fill pages with instances of this idiom, but a statement of its frequency must suffice. This emphatic use of the participle is a more unmitigated Hebraism than the other forms of the etymological figure. The cognate accusative is quite Greek and the cognate dative is to be found in pure Greek, but we should search in vain among classical authors for the intensive use of the participle. There is a clear instance indeed in Lucian (Dialogi Marini 4.3 ἰδὼν εἶδον), but it is interesting to remember that Lucian himself came from the banks of the Euphrates. In Hdt. 5.95 αὐτὸς μὲν φεύγων ἐκφεύγει there is a difference of meaning between the participle and the finite verb - he himself escapes by flight.
In the N.T. we have one instance, other than a quotation, of this Hebraism, namely —
Eph 5:5 ἴστε γινώσκοντες,
but both the reading and the interpretation of this passage are disputed.
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Re: Time: aorist participle, aorist main verb

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 30th, 2015, 8:10 am

cwconrad wrote:It should be noted again here, as I think was indicated earlier in this thread, that an aorist participle construed with an aorist verb does not at all necessarily indicate action prior to the time of the main verb.
Yes, I thought some people were contesting that, and I thought this was an example where it's really hard to context that.
cwconrad wrote:Jonathan, I think that in both examples that you've cited we're dealing with conversion into Greek of a Hebrew construction (correct me, please, Ken or others better cognizant of representation of Hebrew in LXX Greek):
The first, ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν is actually a good Greek formulation of the standard Hebrew narrative formula regularly Englished as "and he answered and said ... " In the Hebrew it's two 3d sg. perfects connected by the vav. But it doesn't mean that the two "actions" are consecutive; better English would be, "In response he said ... " or simply "he replied ... "
Oh - so this is not a construction often found in classical Greek?
cwconrad wrote:The second example, εἰ ἀποκρινόμενος ἀποκριθῶ αὐτοῖς; is an instance of the Hebrew "construct-infinitive": an infinitive is prefixed to a finite verb in order to intensify the meaning (here a sarcastic rhetorical question: "Am I really to be expected to give them an oracle?"). The LXX translator ordinarily converted the Hebrew construction into a combination of aorist participle of the same verb as the main verb. Cf. Conyweare & Stock, LXX Greek Grammar, §81:
§81. The Intensive Participle. On the other hand there is a cause in operation in the LXX tending to an unnecessary use of participles. For in place of a cognate dative we often find the participle used along with a finite form of the same verb, to convey the intensive force that is accomplished in Hebrew by the addition of the infinitive to the finite verb, e.g. —
Gen 22:17 εἰ μὴν εὐλογῶν εὐλογήσω σε, καὶ πληθύνων πληθυνῶ τὸ σπέρμα σου.
Jdg. 11:25 μὴ μαχόμενος ἐμαχεσατο μετὰ Ἰσραὴλ ἢ πολεμῶν ἐπολέμησεν αὐτόν;
We might fill pages with instances of this idiom, but a statement of its frequency must suffice. This emphatic use of the participle is a more unmitigated Hebraism than the other forms of the etymological figure. The cognate accusative is quite Greek and the cognate dative is to be found in pure Greek, but we should search in vain among classical authors for the intensive use of the participle. There is a clear instance indeed in Lucian (Dialogi Marini 4.3 ἰδὼν εἶδον), but it is interesting to remember that Lucian himself came from the banks of the Euphrates. In Hdt. 5.95 αὐτὸς μὲν φεύγων ἐκφεύγει there is a difference of meaning between the participle and the finite verb - he himself escapes by flight.
In the N.T. we have one instance, other than a quotation, of this Hebraism, namely —
Eph 5:5 ἴστε γινώσκοντες,
but both the reading and the interpretation of this passage are disputed.
Thanks - this is useful.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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