Hair-splitting (was Tense of TETAGMENOI in Acts 13:48)

James S. Murray jsmurray at
Tue Jul 6 18:20:27 EDT 1999

"Carl W. Conrad" wrote:

> As I tried to state in my first response to this question, there is ONLY
> the periphrastic form of the pluperfect to be found at the time of the
> writing of Acts 13:48 (I certainly haven't done a search of the TLG, but
> I'd wager that the Homeric equivalent 3d pl. inflected pluperfect,
> ETETACATO, is not to be found). So there's not really any point in
> attempting to differentiate meanings of the periphrastic and inflected
> pluperfects.
> More to the point, I think, is the question whether there's a semantic
> difference at the time of composition of Acts 13:48 between an aorist
> passive ETACQHSAN and this form before us, HSAN TETAGMENOI. There may be
> real difference of opinion on this; my own judgment is that ETACQHSAN is
> the one that ought properly to be translated as a pluperfect passive in
> English ("had been destined/ordained") while the periphrastic form ought
> more properly to be understood as a past stative with a time simultaneous
> to that of the main verb ("were--at that time--destined/ordained"). I think
> that the upshot is the same in any case, but I think there's this
> difference: the aorist would underscore the completion of the
> destining/ordaining (prior to the time of the main verb) while the
> periphrastic pluperfect would underscore the status quo of the believers at
> the time they believed. Some may well think that this is splitting hairs
> too much to no purpose, but it is worth noting, I think, that the aorist is
> generally used in narrative Greek where English uses a pluperfect to convey
> time of a verb relative to time of another verb, and that the perfect and
> pluperfect, where they are used at all, tend to indicate state or condition
> obtaining at a particular time. Frankly, I don't think this distinction has
> any bearing upon the theological questions posed by this verse, which
> cannot be discussed here.
> With regard to the other hair-splitting question, whether hOSOI HSAN
> TETAGMENOI is a relative clause or a substantive clause, I'd place myself
> firmly on the fence: I do think that there's an implicit partitive TWN
> EQNWN to be understood with the hOSOI and I think that one could argue that
> this is an instance of the antecedent assimilated to the relative, so that
> we might amplify the phrasing as EKEINOI EPISTEUSAN hOSOI TETAGMENOI HSAN.
> At several points in Koine texts, one gets the impression that hOSOS/-H/-ON
> is already the relative pronoun replacing hOS/hH/hO that it has become in
> Modern Greek.

This was very helpful.  Thank you.


Jim Murray
Racine, WI

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