[B-Greek] 2 Cor. 6:2 (= Isa 49:8) - aorists
borikayaama_tekiri at sil.org
Tue Feb 12 05:45:14 EST 2008
I've been looking at 2 Cor 6:2, where Paul quotes from LXX Isaiah 49.8. I'm
not sure if this is a fair question for this list or the B-Hebrew list, nor
do I know if it has been discussed here before, but here goes.
καιρῷ δεκτῷ ἐπήκoυσά σoυ καὶ ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σωτηρίας ἐβoήθησά σoι.
KAIRWi DEKTWi EPJKOUSA SOU KAI EN hJMERAi SWTJRIAS EBOJQJSA SOI.
ἰδoὺ νῦν καιρὸς εὐπρόσδεκτoς, ἰδoὺ νῦν ἡμέρα σωτηρίας,
IDOU NUN KAIROS EUPROSDEKTOS, IDOU NUN hJMERA SWTJRIAS
My concern is with the time reference of the verbs in the quote. A number of
commentators on Isaiah consider the time reference of the verbs to be
future, and some English versions reflect this in their renderings, e.g. NIV
"I will answer you" and "I will help you". I have not, however, seen much
evidence of such an understanding in commentaries on 2 Cor, and most English
versions use the past tense. (Of the ones I have checked only Wm F Beck uses
the future. I also noticed the German Hoffnung für alle has the future.)
The simple explanation of this mismatch in the commentaries might be that
whereas in Hebrew the preterite is often understood as future-referring in
prophetic passages, in Greek the aorist is usually understood as referring
to the past. I am wondering, then, which of the following possibilities, or
something else I haven't thought of, is correct:
1. In the Hebrew the time reference is future, but the LXX mistranslated the
verbs as referring to the past; and Paul was not concerned to change the
wording despite knowing that the aorist normally refers to the past.
2. In the Hebrew the time reference is future, and the LXX used the aorist.
Paul interpreted that aorist as referring to the future and presumably
expected his readers to do so too.
3. The verbs should, after all, be interpreted as past-referring both in the
Hebrew and in the Greek.
It strikes me that Paul's follow-up sentence with IDOU NUN works better if
the preceding quote is interpreted as future-referring than if it is
past-referring. Also the initial phrases KAIRWi DEKTWi and EN hJMERAi
SWTJRIAS look as if they refer to some future event.
According to R R Ottley, the LXX translators used the Greek aorist and
future to "represent" the two Hebrew verb forms whenever they did not
receive sufficient guidance from the context as to their semantic value. (A
Handbook to the Septuagint, 1920, p. 121, available at www.archive.org). I
would be interested to know from a septuagintalist whether this view is
still considered viable and whether or not it should be applied in this
Some scholars are prepared to allow occasional future-referring aorists in
Greek. Have any of them mentioned this verse? Neither Porter nor McKay do; I
haven't been able to check more widely.
Many thanks for any help on this.
More information about the B-Greek