Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

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Re: Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

Postby David Lim » March 1st, 2013, 4:01 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:The key concept is discourse context. The word "discourse" seems to have dropped from your reply but it is crucial to the point. There are different contexts to look at. On the one hand, you have the context within the storyworld of the parable, where the act of selling everything is certainly relevant to whether the man can afford to buy the pearl. But on the other, there is the discourse context of Jesus, the one who spoke the perfect tense form. There, the man is not present when Jesus told the parable. In fact, he may as well be fictional.

Thanks for clarifying, Stephen. But like Alan, I still don't quite see why the perfect tense form must be relevant to the discourse context of Jesus, nor why a verb cannot be perfect if the action it describes is in a fictional setting. I thought that it was enough for it to be relevant to the context within which it is situated. Besides, there must be a reason why the perfect was chosen over the default aorist, so I am suggesting that the reason is to express a state resulting from an action and not just the action. Or are you saying that there is no reason?

Stephen Carlson wrote:I know what your point is, but to me your argument has the flavor of "It looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, so it's cow." It is the very remoteness of the story time from the discourse time that makes the aorist a more appropriate tense.

If the perfect in this particular place is identical to the aorist, why is it so unusual to find such "mismatching" tense that we can identify the aorist as the appropriate one? I guess I cannot see why there would be a great disparity in frequency of the aorist and perfect in narrative unless there was a significant disparity in meaning.

cwconrad wrote:Seems to me that "the state of having nothing left unsold" finds expression rather in πάντα ὅσα εἶχεν

Yes that is the explicit expression, so couldn't the perfect be able to pull the reader's focus to that state? Likewise in many of the examples that you cited from BDF? I am suggesting that such a shade of meaning is possible even if atypical and therefore can be what the perfect in these instances mean. I just searched online and found an article describing such an effect used in informal speech in some "dialects" of English: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/%22Vivid+ ... 0176820727. Even so, English is quite inflexible and the present perfect is almost never used in immediate conjunction with the simple past. An example I found in the article that is closest to what we have in Matt 13:46 is (underlining mine):
(17) a. I just [...] rang up one morning, said, "I'm not too well so I won't be in today," and went waterskiing, and got burnt. So of course WHEN I'VE COME into work THE NEXT MORNING they said, y'know, "how're you feeling?" (92.9 FM radio Perth, 7.3.00)


cwconrad wrote:BDF
343. Perfect for the aorist. There are scattered traces of the late use of the perfect in narrative (§340): (1) unquestionable examples in Rev: 5:7 ἦλθεν καὶ εἴληφεν, cf. 8:5. (2) In Paul: 2 C 2:13 ἔσχηκα in historical narration, 12:17 ἀπέσταλκα among nothing but aorists (ἔπεμψα DE, ἀπέστειλα several minusc.), 11:25 νυχθήμερον ἐν τῷ βυθῷ πεποίηκα alongside aorists only and without adequate reason. J 12:29p66 ἐλάλησεν; pm. λελάληκεν. (3) Γέγονεν for ἐγένετο (Burton 43) Mt 25:6 (B ἐγένετο), 17:2 (according to Chr), γεγόναμεν ApocP 11 (for papyri s. Mlt. 146 [229f.] and an example from an inscrip. 239 n. on 168 [263]).

In Rev 5:7, could it be that they are conceived in two separate phrases, each from a different perspective; "(And then) he came, and (now) he has taken ..."? The rest from the NT are to me not "unquestionable use of the perfect for the aorist". Do you have an explanation for why any of them should be aoristic and should not mean what I suggest above?
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Re: Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 1st, 2013, 5:08 am

David Lim wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:The key concept is discourse context. The word "discourse" seems to have dropped from your reply but it is crucial to the point. There are different contexts to look at. On the one hand, you have the context within the storyworld of the parable, where the act of selling everything is certainly relevant to whether the man can afford to buy the pearl. But on the other, there is the discourse context of Jesus, the one who spoke the perfect tense form. There, the man is not present when Jesus told the parable. In fact, he may as well be fictional.

Thanks for clarifying, Stephen. But like Alan, I still don't quite see why the perfect tense form must be relevant to the discourse context of Jesus, nor why a verb cannot be perfect if the action it describes is in a fictional setting. I thought that it was enough for it to be relevant to the context within which it is situated. Besides, there must be a reason why the perfect was chosen over the default aorist, so I am suggesting that the reason is to express a state resulting from an action and not just the action. Or are you saying that there is no reason?


The issue is that the perfect is a present tense, or in more aspectual terms, it refers to the continuing relevance for the speaker of a complete situation. To the extent it refers to a past situation, that situation is usually at some indefinite point in time. That's why it has to be relevant to Jesus's discourse context and that's why the perfect is a poor narrative tense. It is very rare for the perfect not to be relevant to the discourse context in classical Greek and when the NT (along with the papyri) starts using the perfect in more ideal aorist contexts, as here in Matt 13:46, grammarians conclude that there is a confusion or merger of the perfect and the aorist.

To be sure, there may well be extenuating circumstances explaining this unusual use of the perfect. This verb πιπράσκω appears to have lost its aorist form in the Koine (it should have been ἔπρασεν), so maybe the perfect was simply the closest past-ish tense that was available to be used. Some manuscripts even change the this verb to the more common ἐπώλησεν, which, one should note, is the aorist of πωλέω, not its perfect.
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Re: Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

Postby Tony Pope » March 1st, 2013, 6:48 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:The issue is that the perfect is a present tense, or in more aspectual terms, it refers to the continuing relevance for the speaker of a complete situation. To the extent it refers to a past situation, that situation is usually at some indefinite point in time. That's why it has to be relevant to Jesus's discourse context and that's why the perfect is a poor narrative tense. It is very rare for the perfect not to be relevant to the discourse context in classical Greek and when the NT (along with the papyri) starts using the perfect in more ideal aorist contexts, as here in Matt 13:46, grammarians conclude that there is a confusion or merger of the perfect and the aorist.

Not all grammarians agree with this assessment. K. L. McKay wrote an article in the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies (Vol 12 1965 1-21) entitled 'The Use of the Ancient Greek Perfect down to the Second Century A. D.' in which he argued that the case for the perfect to be viewed as aoristic in the early centuries AD has been overstated. The breakdown of the classical uses was later than is commonly claimed.
Similar, and more convenient, is McKay's A New Syntax of the Verb, §4.5.2, where he discusses both εἴληφεν in Rev 5.7 (which, to my mind, is a very telling example of a perfect that is wrongly claimed as aoristic) and πέπρακεν in Matt 13.46.
"In Mt 13:46 πέπρακεν is similarly the climactic action, whether the parable is regarded as a narrative tale or as a timeless statement."

Stephen Carlson wrote:To be sure, there may well be extenuating circumstances explaining this unusual use of the perfect. This verb πιπράσκω appears to have lost its aorist form in the Koine (it should have been ἔπρασεν), so maybe the perfect was simply the closest past-ish tense that was available to be used. Some manuscripts even change the this verb to the more common ἐπώλησεν, which, one should note, is the aorist of πωλέω, not its perfect.

I originally thought this way too: there was apparently no aorist active current for πιπράσκω, so Matthew might be substituting πέπρακεν for an aorist. But Matthew does use πωλέω in other places (including the aorist imperative in 19.21) so there's really no reason to suppose he would not have used ἐπώλησεν if he wanted a plain unvarnished aorist.
The fact that later scribes changed πέπρακεν to ἐπώλησεν is nothing unusual. Interchange between perfect and aorist is common in the NT textual tradition, as also between imperfect and aorist. There's a loss of meaning when changing to a default tense.

Stephen Carlson wrote:Let's look at it another way. Though English uses the perfect more frequently than Greek, English also requires a present perfect to be relevant to the current discourse context. The fact that none of the major translations rendered πέπραχεν with an English present perfect is a redflag that none of these translators (even the very literal NASB) could detect any relevance to the current discourse context. These all translate the verb with the preterite "sold."

The fact that English translations content themselves with "sold" is no argument at all that the perfect in question is equivalent to an aorist. For one thing, it should be well known that the major translations copy those that went before them to a large extent. But more importantly, we are dealing here with a nuance that is hard to reproduce in English translation unless the translator feels free to depart from a "literal" rendering. The previous parable uses historic presents for effect, so it's not surprising that this one also uses a highlighting strategy. I suggest this is a case of what McKay calls in his BICS article (p. 17) the dramatic use of the perfect.
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Re: Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 1st, 2013, 9:07 am

Tony Pope wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:The issue is that the perfect is a present tense, or in more aspectual terms, it refers to the continuing relevance for the speaker of a complete situation. To the extent it refers to a past situation, that situation is usually at some indefinite point in time. That's why it has to be relevant to Jesus's discourse context and that's why the perfect is a poor narrative tense. It is very rare for the perfect not to be relevant to the discourse context in classical Greek and when the NT (along with the papyri) starts using the perfect in more ideal aorist contexts, as here in Matt 13:46, grammarians conclude that there is a confusion or merger of the perfect and the aorist.

Not all grammarians agree with this assessment. K. L. McKay wrote an article in the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies (Vol 12 1965 1-21) entitled 'The Use of the Ancient Greek Perfect down to the Second Century A. D.' in which he argued that the case for the perfect to be viewed as aoristic in the early centuries AD has been overstated. The breakdown of the classical uses was later than is commonly claimed.


Thanks for citing McKay's work. This article is important in that it takes on, successfully in my opinion, Chantraine's view that the Greek perfect could be "resultative" in the state of the object (note that Chantraine uses the term "resultative" differently than people do now). Rather, he calls for an analysis that would make perfects of active transitives reflect a change in status of the subject -- a view that would be called "experiential" in today's terminology (by some at least).

As for the position about the overstatement of what might be called "aoristic perfects" in the early centuries, he does not really cite any evidence for that. What he has is a brief analysis of Rev 5:7 where he analogizes (I think) the use of the perfect to that of the historical present, suggesting that these "dramatic perfects" have a similar meaning as the historical presents. Then he predicts that all apparent "aoristic perfects" in the early centuries of our era can be explained that way. I'm not persuaded.

The analogy just does not work for me. The dramaticness of a historical present, to the extent it exists, comes not only from the shift in the deictic center but also in its application to punctual events. This does not apply to the perfect, where even with a shift of deictic center, the event is still complete at some undefined point before the deictic center. Also, the perfect is supposed to be about the resulting state (or status as McKay argued) and that is not a punctual event, so it's hard to see much dramaticness coming from that. Finally, although there's lots of evidence of historical presents in Greek, there isn't really any evidence of historical perfects (for want of a better term) outside of the "aoristic perfects" that McKay wants to reanalyze, and McKay didn't cite any as far as I could tell.


Tony Pope wrote:Similar, and more convenient, is McKay's A New Syntax of the Verb, §4.5.2, where he discusses both εἴληφεν in Rev 5.7 (which, to my mind, is a very telling example of a perfect that is wrongly claimed as aoristic) and πέπρακεν in Matt 13.46.
"In Mt 13:46 πέπρακεν is similarly the climactic action, whether the parable is regarded as a narrative tale or as a timeless statement."


McKey's syntax is checked out of the library at the moment, but as I recall, it is fairly short on analysis, unlike his articles. I think the quoted sentence exhausts the analysis of this verse, right? At any rate, I feel that the idea that πέπρακεν is for "climactic action" buys into the analogy with the historical present, which as I explained above really does not work for me.

Tony Pope wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:To be sure, there may well be extenuating circumstances explaining this unusual use of the perfect. This verb πιπράσκω appears to have lost its aorist form in the Koine (it should have been ἔπρασεν), so maybe the perfect was simply the closest past-ish tense that was available to be used. Some manuscripts even change the this verb to the more common ἐπώλησεν, which, one should note, is the aorist of πωλέω, not its perfect.

I originally thought this way too: there was apparently no aorist active current for πιπράσκω, so Matthew might be substituting πέπρακεν for an aorist. But Matthew does use πωλέω in other places (including the aorist imperative in 19.21) so there's really no reason to suppose he would not have used ἐπώλησεν if he wanted a plain unvarnished aorist.
The fact that later scribes changed πέπρακεν to ἐπώλησεν is nothing unusual. Interchange between perfect and aorist is common in the NT textual tradition, as also between imperfect and aorist. There's a loss of meaning when changing to a default tense.


I woudl say that the explanation is lexical. My sense is that πέπρακεν is more intensive than πωλέω (e.g., compare "sell off" and "sell"), so this verb really is a better fit for the context, despite its lack of the aorist and needing to supply one from the perfect. My impression from the study of the textual tradition of Galatians (the subject of my dissertation) is that the confusion of tenses by the scribes is fairly rare, compared to other changes, and more common when the forms are spelled very similarly, which is not the case here.

Tony Pope wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:Let's look at it another way. Though English uses the perfect more frequently than Greek, English also requires a present perfect to be relevant to the current discourse context. The fact that none of the major translations rendered πέπραχεν with an English present perfect is a redflag that none of these translators (even the very literal NASB) could detect any relevance to the current discourse context. These all translate the verb with the preterite "sold."

The fact that English translations content themselves with "sold" is no argument at all that the perfect in question is equivalent to an aorist. For one thing, it should be well known that the major translations copy those that went before them to a large extent. But more importantly, we are dealing here with a nuance that is hard to reproduce in English translation unless the translator feels free to depart from a "literal" rendering. The previous parable uses historic presents for effect, so it's not surprising that this one also uses a highlighting strategy. I suggest this is a case of what McKay calls in his BICS article (p. 17) the dramatic use of the perfect.


I think "no argument at all" is far too strong. The perfect is more frequent in English than in Greek, and it is very good at capturing the nuance of current relevance if it is there. The fact that the translations don't go with (and they are all not slavishly dependent on each other) is a good sign that they did not detect that nuance. But in any event, your argument is that there is a different nuance, other than current relevance. Unfortunately, the notion of a dramatic perfect, as I see it, depends on a specious analogy with the historical present.

One thing is clear to me, though. This is a different use of the perfect than in classical times. Not even McKay (as far as I can tell) has cited evidence of a dramatic perfect in classical times. It was not a narrative tense. And it is in the early centuries around the turn of the millennium that we see the perfect begin to be used in narrative contexts, where the aorist had been reigning.
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Re: Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

Postby cwconrad » March 1st, 2013, 9:36 am

I don't know exactly how relevant this is, but it has always seemed interesting to me that the Romance Language "indefinite past" is morphologically comparable to the English perfect (Fr. j'ai vu, Eng. i have seen, Fr. je suis allé, Eng. I have gone), although Fr. j'ai vu actually corresponds to Eng. I saw, Fr. je suis allé to Eng. I went. That is to say, The Romance "indefinite past" is really -- as its name, in fact, indicates, an "aorist." I don't know enough about the morphological history of the transition from ancient Latin to medieval Latin to Romance, but ancient Latin has a perfect that corresponds in many ways to both the Greek aorist and the (classical) Greek perfect, while Romance has developed a new indefinite past tense based on compounding of the verbs avoir and être with a past participle. I've wondered sometmes whether usage of the perfect in an aorist sense in Koine may not represent influence of Latin usage. In Latin the PIE perfect and aorist merged quite early.
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Re: Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 6th, 2013, 9:13 am

Interesting. I thought that the "definite past" (or passé défini) in French is the passé simple, which is now used only in formal narrative. Thus, passé simple form je vis would be the definite past, "I saw," while the passé composé form is j'ai vu. The passé simple is a lot like the Greek aorist, but with a more limited set of functions.

Bridget Drinka has written a monograph arguing that the periphrastic perfect in ἔχω is an areal influence on Greek from Latin, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.
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Re: Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

Postby MAubrey » March 6th, 2013, 10:36 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:Interesting. I thought that the "definite past" (or passé défini) in French is the passé simple, which is now used only in formal narrative. Thus, passé simple form je vis would be the definite past, "I saw," while the passé composé form is j'ai vu. The passé simple is a lot like the Greek aorist, but with a more limited set of functions.

Bridget Drinka has written a monograph arguing that the periphrastic perfect in ἔχω is an areal influence on Greek from Latin, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Huh. Do you have the name of the monograph? Because her 2003 article, 'Areal factors in the development of the European periphrastic perfect' (Word 54: 1-38) makes the exact opposite claim: that Greek provided the model for Latin. I'd be interested in the reason for her switch--particularly since her 2003 claim was viewed as rather controversial.
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Re: Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 6th, 2013, 10:49 am

MAubrey wrote:
Bridget Drinka has written a monograph arguing that the periphrastic perfect in ἔχω is an areal influence on Greek from Latin, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Huh. Do you have the name of the monograph? Because her 2003 article, 'Areal factors in the development of the European periphrastic perfect' (Word 54: 1-38) makes the exact opposite claim: that Greek provided the model for Latin. I'd be interested in the reason for her switch--particularly since her 2003 claim was viewed as rather controversial.


Sorry, not a monograph but an article: Bridget Drinka, "The development of the HAVE perfect Mutual influences of Greek and Latin" in Raúl Aranovich, ed., Split Auxiliary Systems: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2007), 109-121. As the title suggests, she thinks the influence is mutual, first Greek -> Latin, then Latin -> Greek in Koine times. It is the use of the perfect mediopassive participle instead of the aorist active participle that she thinks is influenced from the Latin.

ETA: Looks like I hadn't realized that she changed her mind over the years.
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Re: Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

Postby Tony Pope » March 11th, 2013, 9:42 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Tony Pope wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:To be sure, there may well be extenuating circumstances explaining this unusual use of the perfect. This verb πιπράσκω appears to have lost its aorist form in the Koine (it should have been ἔπρασεν), so maybe the perfect was simply the closest past-ish tense that was available to be used. ...

I originally thought this way too: there was apparently no aorist active current for πιπράσκω, so Matthew might be substituting πέπρακεν for an aorist. But Matthew does use πωλέω in other places (including the aorist imperative in 19.21) so there's really no reason to suppose he would not have used ἐπώλησεν if he wanted a plain unvarnished aorist.
...

I woudl say that the explanation is lexical. My sense is that πέπρακεν is more intensive than πωλέω (e.g., compare "sell off" and "sell"), so this verb really is a better fit for the context, despite its lack of the aorist and needing to supply one from the perfect.


Coming back to this after a break, I want to question why πιπράσκω would be a better fit for the context of 13.46, given that in 13.44 in the companion parable Matthew uses πωλέω and in both parables he has essentially the same object πάντα ὅσα ἔχει/εἶχεν.

Also I question whether there is evidence to support the view that πιπράσκω is significantly different lexically from πωλέω in koine Greek. Chariton's Callirhoe (noted for its hellenistic vocabulary) uses both verbs, 45x altogether, πωλέω always in aorist active or present passive, πιπράσκω in present or perfect active, and aorist or perfect passive. In four contexts both verbs occur in close proximity. I'm not convinced there's much of a lexical difference discernible.

1.10.8 πωλουμένη μὲν γὰρ σιγήσει διὰ τὸν φόβον, πραθεῖσα δὲ κατηγορείτω τῶν μὴ παρόντων.
When she’s being sold, she’ll keep quiet out of fear; when she’s been sold, let her accuse [us] who won’t be there.

2.1.8 "ὁ πωλήσας.” “ἀνδραποδιστὴς ἄρα ἦν, καὶ ἀλλοτρίαν σοι πέπρακε δούλην ..." "… πραθεῖσαν ὑπὸ δεσποίνης κατὰ ζηλοτυπίαν.”
“The seller [has run away].” “Evidently he was a slave trafficker, and it’s someone else’s slave he’s sold you.” “She was sold by her mistress out of jealousy.”

2.5.5 οἱ μὲν γὰρ πωλήσαντές σε Συβαρῖτιν ἔφασαν κατὰ ζηλοτυπίαν ἐκεῖθεν πραθεῖσαν ὑπὸ δεσποίνης. ... ἐγὼ νῦν πρῶτον πέπραμαι
“The men who sold you said you were from Sybaris, and had been sold there because of your mistress' jealousy.” “This is the first time I've been sold.”

3.7.3 ἱκέτευσαν Χαιρέας καὶ Πολύχαρμος ἑνὶ δεσπότῃ πραθῆναι. καὶ ὁ λαβὼν αὐτοὺς ἐπώλησεν εἰς Καρίαν
Chaireas and Polycharmos begged to be sold to one master. The man who got them sold them in Caria.

So I remain unpersuaded that Matthew used πέπρακεν as an ersatz aorist.
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Re: Matt 13:46 perfect πέπρακεν

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 11th, 2013, 10:53 am

Thanks for sharing your opinion, Tony. I don't know what an "ersatz aorist" is supposed to mean (it's not my terminology nor that of other scholars), but I'm not persuaded by McKay's idea of a "historical perfect." If it existed, I think it would have been a lot more productive and not quite so limited to verbs with irregular (e.g,. second) or missing aorists. I don't see anything in McKay's reasoning that supports the apparent distribution of these perfects in narrative contexts.

As for the difference between πιπράσκω and πωλέω, exact synonymy is rare, and just because we cannot detect a significant difference in some writers does not mean that other writers felt a difference. Both of us think that πέπρακεν is punchier than ἐπώλησεν, but we disagree whether the difference ought to be located in the tense-form (which must have been used exceptionally) or the lexicon (which I submit is more realistic).
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