[B-Greek] hESTANAI, hISTAMAI and hISTHMI
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Aug 7 09:03:04 EDT 2007
On Aug 6, 2007, at 7:30 PM, Stephen Baldwin wrote:
> Dr. Buth:
> I'd like to understand what you are saying here. (And I thought I
> was merely posing a question about a possible error in a book... :-))
I suppose it will always be jarring to some to realize that Randall
is deadly serious about the propriety of using Koine Greek as a
grammatical metalanguage to talk about Koine Greek -- just as English-
speakers use English terminology to talk about English grammatical
usage -- so serious, in fact, that he practices what he preaches.
I think that what Randall is saying about this verb is important, and
I'd like to add some comments of my own, after first correcting an
egregious error of my own:
On Aug 5, 2007, at 7:24 PM, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> hESTANAI: Mounce=Pf-MP-Inf Baldwin=2Pf-A-Inf (cf MBG/
>> Mounce ss84
>> footnote 2)
> This is perhaps a quibble; you might want to specify that hESTANAI is
> "second" perfect infinitive, while hESTHKENAI is "first perfect
> infinitive" but the two forms have the same force; the "second
> perfect" is a more archaic form still in use.
What is true of what I wrote above is that there's no difference in
meaning between "First perfect" and "Second perfect" tense-forms. I
was wrong to claim that there's a First perfect infinitive
hESTHKENAI. There is no perfect infinitive form hESTHKENAI attested
in any ancient Greek text of which I know, although I wouldn't be
surprised to see it. It does seem odd that the standard perfect
indicative forms are hESTHKA, hESTHKAS, hESTHKE(N), KTL but that the
perfect infinitive is hESTANAI, based upon the perfect stem hESTA- --
as the more common form of the perfect participle, hESTWS (< hESTA-
WS)/hESTWSA/hESTOS (33x in the GNT) -- and yet there is also the
alternative form of the perfect participle.hESTHKWS/hESTHKWSA/
hESTHKOS (10x in the GNT).
The standard tense-forms in use in the GNT (probably in most other
periods too) are the aorist and the perfect:
The perfect is found 65x times in the GNT, the Pluperfect 14x. These
two tense-forms are most frequent because they are equivalent to the
present and imperfect of more verbs: "you are standing" is hESTHKATE,
"he was standing" is hEISTHKEI.
The aorist ESTH means not "he/she/it stood" but, more precisely, "he/
she/it came to a stand" or "he/she/it came to a standstill (halted)."
There is only ONE instance in the GNT of what might be termed a
present-tense form of this verb: hISTANOMEN in Rom 3:31; I would
prefer to say this is a present tense form of a derivative form of
hISTHMI rather than of hISTHMI itself -- it's equivalent to a
putative hISTAMEN ("we establish").
One might very well argue that hISTAMAI intransitive ("stand, arise")
is a different verb from hISTHMI causative ("make stand"). I would be
more inclined to say that hISTAMAI intransitive is the default form
of this verb while hISTHMI causative is the secondary form.
As Randall has noted, hISTAMAI/ESTHN/hESTHKA is middle in terms of
its semantic voice, while hISTHMI/ESTHSA is active. As for the forms
ESTHN and hESTHKA, they are conventionally called "active" and some
might even try to call them "deponent" -- on grounds that they
express middle-meaning although they have active forms. In fact,
however, the so-called "second" aorists, especially the athematic -H-
aorists, are older than the "first" aorists: i.e. ESTHN ("I stood
(up)" is an older form than ESTHSA ("I caused to stand"); the
perfect middle-passive forms are late in development; hESTHKA (older
-- Homeric -- hESTAA) derives from a period when there was no perfect
middle-passive. There is a very rare perfect middle hESTAMAI, but it
isn't found in the GNT at all and it means exactly the same as
hESTHKA ("I am standing").
The so-called aorist passive ESTAQHN is essentially a later-
developing form of the intransitive "second" aorist ESTHN. Although
ESTAQHN may occasionally be understand as semantically passive ("I
was made to stand") it is far more often intransitive (semantically
middle -- "I stood."
The obvious, hence too readily ignored, fact about "irregular" verbs
is that they are irregular because they are used too frequently in
everyday discourse to have succumbed to the standardizing process
that eliminates irregularities. So in English we still use "stood" as
the past tense of "stand" -- we instinctively wince if we should hear
someone say "I standed" -- unless it's a little child who doesn't
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (retired)
On Aug 6, 2007, at 9:48 AM, Randall Buth wrote:
> On some reflection,
> I think that I can rephrase a statement in my last email more
> it functions like ENESTWS (present tense) and/or PARATATIKH OPSIS
> ESTANAI functions like an ENESTWS XRONOS (present tense) when
> as well as the PARATATIKH OPSIS (imperfective
> In the rewrite, the understanding of the Greek distills to the same,
> but "pragmatically" gives more respect to the Greek form within the
> Greek system and lets ESTANAI clearly remain a PARAKEIMENOS, even
> though ESTANAI is a virtual ENESTWS/PARATATIKH for this verb.
On Aug 6, 2007, at 6:58 AM, Randall Buth wrote:
>>> I am somewhat puzzled that in a book titled _Basics of Biblical
> Greek_ Mounce would include a form which does not appear in the NT or
> even in the LXX. >>
> actually, the form ESTANAI needs to come up front and center. This
> picks up and illustrates another thread on MI verbs from last week.
> Students should know how to say 'to stand' and to understand it in
> ESTANAI is one of those most basic words that a student cannot do
> How can someone learn beginning Greek and not be able to say to
> "I don't want to stand, I need to sit"?
> pretty basic:
> OU QELW ESTANAI, DEI ME KAQISAI (KAQHSQAI also good).
> and incidently ESTANAI occurs 3xx in GNT, (not to mention LXX,
> Josephus, and everywhere someone writes enough Greek to say "to
> I recommend teaching Greek so that students can at least STAND or
> SIT in Greek.
> PS: the form belongs to the PARAKEIMENOS (perfect) but as a "second"
> perfect it does not need to distinguish DIAQESEIS (voices). BBG is
> technically wrong to call it middle-passive, but It is irrelevant to
> call it 'active', it is functionally rather 'middle' and intransitive,
> by its nature of existing as a 2 perfect. Semantically it functions
> like ENESTWS (present tense) and/or PARATATIKH OPSIS (imperfective
> Cf Lk 13:25 ἑστάναι καὶ κρούειν τὴν
> ESTANAI KAI KROUEIN THN QURAN.
> standing and knocking on the door
> Ac 12:14 ἀπήγγειλεν ἑστάναι τὸν
> Πέτρον πρὸ τοῦ πυλῶνος
> APHGGEILEN ESTANAI TON PETRON PRO TOU PULWNOS
> reported that Peter was standing outside the the gate
> 1Cor 10:12 ὁ δοκῶν ἑστάναι βλεπέτω μὴ
> the one thinking to be standing should be careful that he not fall.
> Things may look different when viewed by usage rather than by
> Randall Buth, PhD
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