Adverbial aor ptcs of subsequent time rfc (LONG)
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Oct 14 10:14:55 EDT 1998
This is an interesting question and one that has brought me not only into
some careful reading of what others have had to say about the problem Jon
raises, but also into a clearer understanding of a point being made about
the function of participles in the very textbook out of which I am teaching
beginning Attic Greek, i.e. _Reading Greek_. In what follows I shall offer
my own comments on the passages Jon has adduced as potential instances of
aorist participles referring to time subsequent to that of the main verb of
the predicate, and then cite as briefly as possible and comment on the
discussions of this question that I have found in the grammarians.
At 5:04 AM -0500 9/30/98, Jon Robertson wrote:
>Hello all, just a quick question (that may generate more than a quick
>reply). What are your opinions about the occurrence of adverbial aorist
>participles of subsequent action? To put it another way, are there
>adverbial aorist participles (particularly in the New Testament) which
>describe action that takes place after the action of the main verb? I did
>a research paper about this in a graduate grammar class, but I would
>prefer to hear the opinions of the list before I put my neck in the noose!
At 5:25 AM -0500 10/1/98, Jon Robertson wrote:
>Yes, some examples would be in order. I was just being lazy! There are
>actually a number in the book of Acts. To name just a couple:
>Acts 23:35 - DIAKOUSOMAI SOU, EFH, hOTAN KAI hOI KATHGOROI SOU
>PARAGENWNTAI KELEYSAS EN TWI PRAITWRIWI TOU hHRWIDOU FYLASSESQAI AUTON
> The question here is the temporal relation between when the
>governor "said" (EFH) what is reported and when he commanded (KELEUSAS)
>Paul to be kept in the Praetorium. While it is possible he did the
>ordering first and then spoke to Paul, before he was led away, it seems
>much more natural to take it in the opposite order, i.e. - he spoke to
>Paul and then ordered him to be taken to the Praetorium. This would mean
>that the action of the aorist participle took place after the action of
>the main verb. Simultaneous action seems impossible here.
My inclination is to think you are being too precise here about what
actions are going on at the same moment; I take it that the words of Felix
are spoken to Paul as he summons one or two soldiers and tells them where
to take Paul: "As he gave orders for Paul to be jailed in the Pretorium, he
said, 'I'll hear your case as soon as your accusers are on hand.'" That is,
I think that this comment to Paul is part of the action of having him put
away for safekeeping pending arrival of the accusers.
>Acts 25:13 - AGRIPPAS hO BASILEUS KAI BERNIKH KATHNTHSAN EIS KAISAREIAN
>ASPASAMENOI TON FHSTON
> In spite of several attempts I have come across, it seems to me
>nearly impossible to understand that Agrippa and Berenice greeted Festus
>before they came to Caesarea. Of course, sometimes the action of an aorist
>participle can take place at the same time as the main verb, explaining
>how the action of the main verb took place (something like "he did (finite
>verb) this by doing (aorist participle) this"), but this seems to really
>stretch the point here - they arrived at Caesarea by greeting Festus?? Or
>that they arrived simultaneously with greeting? Well, maybe... Again, the
>aorist of subsequent action, if allowed, would give wonderful sense -
>Agrippa and Berenice arrived at Caesarea and (then) greeted Festus.
A.T. Robertson in the big grammar (pp. 1112ff.) simply lists this as one of
the passages claimed to offer an aor ptc of subsequent action but says he
thinks they are all really coincident. In the _Short Grammar_ (#460c) he
refers to it and says, "The aor ptc is punctiliar, of course, and is either
simultaneous like KATHNTHSAN ASPASAMENOI (Acts 25:13) they came down
saluting (when they arrived, effective aorist KATHNTHSAN)..." BDF#339(1)
(p. 175) say, "A future meaning of the aor ptc is often assumed for Acts
25:13 KATHNTHSAN ... ASPASAMENOI (since the v.l. ASPASOMENOI is found in C
et al. ) (Chambers, JTS 24 (1923) 183-7 [for two references in the LXX and
three in the NT]; Howard, JTS 24 (1923) 403-6; "Rob., JTS 25 (1924) 286-9;
Harding, TAPA 57 (1926) p. xxxix [only for Acts 25:13]d); yet the meaning
could perhaps be: 'in connection with which they greeted him': ASPASAMENOI
= KAI HSPASANTO."
My own inclination is much as in the previous instance: I think the
salutation is something that belongs to the picture of Agrippa's arrival in
Caesarea; again I don't think it's really so much a matter of one event
being subsequent to another as it is of their being part of a single
scenario: "King Agrippa and Berenice arrived in Caesarea with greetings for
>Other examples to glance at are Acts 12:25 (where some translations make
>the preposition EIS mean "from" to make sense out of an aorist participle
>of antecedant action); [later correction:] In Acts 12:25, the translation
>"from" is not connected with EIS but rather with EX, an alternate reading
>attested by p74, A and some other manuscripts.
BARNABAS DE KAI SAULOS hUPESTREYAN EIS IEROUSALHM PLHRWSANTES THN
DIAKONIAN, SUMPARALABONTES IWANNHN TON EPIKLHQENTA MARKON.
This is actually a rather immense and vexed problem that is discussed in a
lengthy note in Metzger's textual commentary on UBS3 (the older version of
the commentary, pp. 398ff.). I will only note the upshot of the committee's
decision: (a) "several writers regard [PLHRWSANTES] as an instance of the
rare usage of the 'futuristic' aorist expressing purpose. Attractive though
this proposal may be, it involves taking also the following aor ptc
(SUMPARALABONTES) as an aorist of subsequent action--a category whose
existence is denied by most grammarians.", and (b) "After long and repeated
deliberation the Committee decided that the least unsatisfactory decision
was to adopt EIS." There's a good deal more there--and I haven't looked at
Metzger's second edition of the commentary (reversal of the usual
situation: that's at home while I'm at my office). Most telling is fn 22:
"The Committee confesses that more than once K. Lake's admission of despair
reflected its own mood ..."
>16:6,7; DIHLQON DE THN FRUGIAN KAI GALATIKHN CWRAN KWLUQENTES hUPO TOU
>hAGIOU PNEUMATOS LALHSAI TON LOGON EN THi ASIAi; ELQONTES DE KATA THN
>MUSIAN EPEIRAZON EIS THN BIQUNIAN POREUQHNAI, KAI OUK EIASEN AUTOUS TO
>PNEUMA IHSOU ...
I suppose it is argued here that KWLUQENTES should refer to time subsequent
to that of the aorist DIHLQON. I don't really see why it should: Asia is
the Roman province of Asia, the former kingdom of Pergamum bequeathed to
Rome by the last of its kings. F.F. Bruce, in his commentary on Acts, says,
"They completed their journey (DIHLQON) through the 'Phrygian and Galatian
region,' which took them through Iconium and presumably Pisidian Antioch,
and would have crossed the rpvoincial frontier into Asia had they not
already received a prohibition (KWLUQENTES) from preaching in the latter
province. The prohibition had perhaps been given at Lystra ..." I suppose
it might be argued that vs. 7 is parallel in construction to vs. 6: the
prohibition comes after the effort to move on into the new territory to do
missionary work. That isn't altogether implausible. Yet my impression is
that the whole movement of 16:6-10 is unitary: their attempts at further
missionary work in Asia Minor were thwarted consistently by the Holy Spirit
because they were destined to move on into Europe. So I don't really see
any clear sequential force to KWLUQENTES following upon DIHLQON.
>23:27 (where we
>could then take the tribune's words to mean exactly what is
>previously described, rather than a "white lie"),
TON ANDRA TOUTON SULLHMFQENTA hUPO TWN IOUDAIWN KAI MELLONTA ANAIREISQAI
hUP' AUTWN EPISTAS SUN TWi STRATEUMATI EXEILAMHN MAQWN hOTI RWMAIOS ESTIN.
Yes, you COULD take it that way--but it is not the way it has been
described, and on the surface, it certainly appears that in this letter the
tribune is trying to put himself in the best possible light. I would not
assume this MAQWN is an aor ptc describing subsequent action.
>and Luke 1:9. KATA TO EQOS THS hIERATEIAS ELACE TOU QUMIASAI EISELQWN EIS
>TON NAON TOU KURIOU,
I don't quite see what the suggestion of subsequent action here is. I take
EISELQWN as nom. sg. agreeing with the implicit subject of ELACE and to
indicate what is necessarily prior action: "upon entering into the temple
of the Lord in order to cense"
>Acts 17:26 is also often cited, but theological concerns make it more
>difficult to decide what is in mind. EPOIHSEN TE EX hENOS PAN EQNOS
>ANQRWPWN KATOIKEIN EPI PANTOS PROSWPOU THS GHS, hORISAS PROSTETAGMENOUS
>KAIROUS KAI TAS hOROQESIAS THS KATOIKIAS AUTWN ...
Okay, but on the surface, it looks to me like this aor ptc, hORISAS, should
be construed with EPOIHSEN, not considered a reference to a subsequent
>In all of these narratives, the
>syntactical order seems to establish the narrative order. Porter,
>in his Verbal Aspect, pp. 385-6 also cites a number of possible
>extra-biblical cases. I came up with a couple of classical instances
>he does not mention, but I don't have them at hand. (My work was
>done in Chicago, I now am in Quito Ecuador and my somewhat "over
>zealous" wife seems to have packed it in the boxes to stay...)
>Robertson's treatment (in the BIG grammar) of the issue is (and I say
>it with great reverence) quite cavalier and does not really answer
>the issues, in my opinion (HTIB="humble though it be").
I've read carefully over what Robertson says in the BIG grammar and in the
"little grammar" as well. I don't really think he's equivocating.
>I would love
>to hear a little more feedback on this!! Another interesting point
>is that in all the possible cases the aorist participle comes after
>the main verb (thus possibly setting up the relation between
>syntactical order and narrative order). Also, in my study of aorist
>participles in Acts (which conveniently I cannot produce at the
>moment), I was surprised to find that aorists of contemporaneous
>action actually outnumbered the aorists of antecedent action. Of
>course, all of this has to do with the larger picture of verbal
>aspect and how far the greek tenses grammaticalize (or not) temporal
>ideas. I would prefer not to enter into that now and stay on the
>issue of the meaning of these passages.
In a later challenging post, Jon listed the following also as potentially
to be understood as aorist participles of subsequent time: Romans 4:19, 21;
Heb. 9:12; Phil. 2:7; and 1 Peter 3:18. Here's my understanding of these
Rom 4:19 KAI MH ASQENHSAS THi PISTEI KATENOHSEN TO hEAUTOU SWMA
NENEKRWMENON, hEKATONTAETHS POU hUPARCWN, KAI THN NEKRWSIN THS MHTRAS
SARRAS; (20) EIS DE THN EPAGGELIAN TOU QEOU OU DIEKRIQH THi APISTIAi ALL'
ENEDUNAMWQH THi PISTEI, DOUS DOXAN TWi QEWi (21) KAI PLHROFORHQEIS hOTI hO
EPHGGELTAI DUNATOS ESTIN KAI POIHSAI.
I don't discern anything that could be understood as aor ptc of subsequent
action here: certainly not the initial ASQENHSAS which must coordinate with
KATENOHSEN, neatly conveying the paradox of faith that grasps its imagined
absurdity even while it does not fail; hUPARCWN is a present ptc,
coordinated also with KATENOHSEN. But since the rfc to the passage extends
to include verse 21, perhaps PLHROFORHQEIS (perhaps DOUS as well?) is being
understood in this instance as the aor ptc of subsequent action.
I take the sense of PLHROFORHQEIS here as best described in L&N #31.45
"PLHROFOREOMAI; PLHROFORIA, -AS f: to be completely certain of the truth of
something - 'to be absolutely sure, to be certain, complete certainty.'"
At any rate, I still don't see anything problematic here; I would
understand both DOUS and PLHROFORHQEIS as aor ptcs coincident with OU
DIEKRIQH THi APISTIAi ALL'ENEDUNAMWQH THi PISTEI, NOT as indicating
behavior subsequent to the birth of Isaac but rather coincident to his
demonstration of such profound faith.
Heb 9:12 OUDE DI' hAIMATOS TRAGWN KAI MOSCWN DIA DE TOU IDIOU hAIMATOS
EISHLQEN EFAPAX EIS TA hAGIA AIWNIAN LUTRSIN hEURAMENOS
Is it being argued that hEURAMENOS here is an aor ptc of subsequent action,
such that "he discovered an everlasting ransom" only AFTER he "entered once
alone into the inner Sanctum." Surely hEURAMENOS must refer either to time
preceding or time coincident to that of EISHLQEN.
Phil 2:7 ALLA hEAUTON EKENWSEN MORFHN DOULOU LABWN, EN hOMOIWMATI ANQRWPWN
I can see (I think) the possibility of understanding the participles LABWN
and GENOMENOS as pointing to time subsequent to that of the verb EKENWSEN,
but personally I think it makes more sense to understand them as
circumstantial and referring to the simple action described in hEAUTON
EKENWSEN rather than being temporal in any real sense. I.e., I think you
could convey this as "he emptied himself when he took on the form of a
slave, when he was born in the likeness of humanity ..." but I'd be more
inclined to convey them as adverbial explanatory in sense: "he emptied
himself by taking on the form of a slave (=in that he took on the form of
a slave) and by being born (=in that he was born) in the likeness of
1 Pet 3:18 hOTI KAI CRISTOS hAPAX PERI hAMARTIWN EPAQEN, DIKAIOS hUPER
ADIKWN, hINA hUMAS PROSAGAGHi TWi QEWi QANATWQEIS MEN SARKI ZWOPOIHQEIS DE
Nor even here do I see how the aor ptcs QANATWQEIS and ZWOPOIHQEIS could
fall into the category of aor ptcs. of "subsequent action." While it may
surely be said that ZWOPOIHQEIS refers to an event subsequent to EPAQEN,
yet in terms of the syntax of the sentence, BOTH of the ptcs QANATWQEIS and
ZWOPOIHQEIS have to be construed with the aor. subjunctive of the purpose
clause, PROSAGAGHi, so that these ptcs need to be understood as the
foundation upon which Christ's "bringing us before God" and so either as
pointing to prior action or to means.
Let me simply list here, without quoting them, the grammatical references
that I have consulted in the researches bringing me to this response:
Smyth, Greek Grammar §2060; ATRobertson, A Grammar of the Greek NT, pp.
1112-14; A.T. Robertson, A Short Grammar of the Greek Testament §460 c;
Robert W. Funk, A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek
§845.2 (p. 668); Blass, Debrunner, & Funk, §339 (1) (p. 175); Wallace,
Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 614 (s.v. The Verbal Side of the
Participle, a. Time).
Reference is made to the possible existence of such a grammatical category
as aor ptc of subsequent time and even to the existence of non-Biblical
instances, but nothing cited in any of these discussions has struck me as
genuinely convincing. In my opinion, for what it's worth, the only passage
to which I'd be ready to acknowledge a serious possibility of instancing
such an aor ptc. is Acts 25:13, where ASPASAMENOI is coordinated with
SUNHNTHSAN; but even that one seems to me best understood in terms of
coordination rather than a greeting action that follows significantly later
than the arrival in Caesarea.
My thanks to Jon Robertson for a very interesting poser. It would certainly
not surprise me if others who may be interested enough to examine these
passages and arguments carefully should reach different conclusions from my
own; it would also not surprise me if there are few if any who really want
to consider the problem seriously. Nevertheless, I've found this a
fascinating exploration, and although I may not have convinced Jon of the
questionability of viewing these passages as instances of an "aor ptc of
subsequent action," I have at least assured him that his assertion that
they are such doesn't go without a challenge.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cconrad at yancey.main.nc.us
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