Hair-splitting for the Bald

Paul S. Dixon dixonps at
Thu Jul 8 11:50:03 EDT 1999

On Thu, 8 Jul 1999 08:03:02 -0400 "Carl W. Conrad"
<cwconrad at> writes:
>At 2:20 PM -0700 7/6/99, dixonps at wrote:
>>On Tue, 6 Jul 1999 14:44:21 -0400 "Carl W. Conrad"
>><cwconrad at> writes:
>>>Yes; moreover, I think that this understanding of the way aorist and
>>>pluperfect work in Koine (I can't really prove it, but I believe it)
>>>explain the rarity of both the perfect and the pluperfect in Koine.
>>>The aorist has effectively assumed their functions in narrative and
>>>are used, when they are used, more fundamentally to emphasize that
>>>existing result.
>>Would you suspect then that the ratio of perfects/aorists in Classical
>>Greek is higher than in the Koine?  Would this also suggest the ratio
>>consummative aorists/constative aorists is greater in the Koine?  My
feel for >>the aorists in theGreek NT is that the vast majority are
constative and >>relatively few are ingressive or consummative.   Is it
even less so in the >>Classics?
>Paul, this deserves a fuller and fully documented answer based on much 
>thorough research than I've been able to carry out. Let me say rather
>(1) I do believe (but am not prepared at present to document) that the
>ratio of perfects/aorists is indeed considerably higher in classical
>narrative Greek than it is in Koine. Probably this is something that 
>HAS been documented, but I can't put my hands on it now.

Interesting.  Isn't it true that language tends toward simplicity
with time?

>(2) From Accordance, I find the following numbers for Perfect and
>Pluperfect tense forms in the GNT:
>Perfect tense forms in GNT: 1573
>Mt 113
>Mk 93
>Lk 171
>Jn 284
>Acts 164
>Pauline letters 329
>Deutero-Pauline 43
>Pastorals 53
>Heb 87
>Catholic letters 137
>Revelation 117
>Pluperfect tense forms in GNT: 86
>Mk 8 (HiDEI 3, EIWQEI)
>Lk 16 (HiDEI 5, hEISTHKEI 3)
>Jn 34 HiDSEI 15, hEISTHKEI 7
>Acts 17 (HiDEI 5, hEISTHKEI 1)
>Pauline letters 1 (HiDEIN)
>Pastorals: 0
>Heb: 0
>Catholic letters 1
>Revelation 1 (hEISTHKEISAN)

Wow, these statistics were easily obtained via Accordance?
I've got Logos 2.1 and have found it pretty slick, but I don't think
stats like this are possible on Logos.

>I think it is noteworthy that so many of these pluperfect forms are of
>perfect tenses normally used with present meaning: hESTHKA ("I am
>standing"), OIDA ("I know"), and EIWQA ("I am accustomed"). I 
>believe that when a pluperfect sense is required in narrative it is
>generally expressed in Koine with an aorist. 
>(3) I am content with the description of functions of these tenses at:
>The Perfect Tense
>1. Intensive (Resultative) Perfect
>2. Extensive (Consummative) Perfect
>3. Perfect with a Present Force
>The Pluperfect Tense
> 1. Intensive (Resultative) Pluperfect
>2. Extensive (Consummative) Pluperfect
>The perfect and pluperfect tenses are identical in aspect though 
>in time. Thus both speak of an event accomplished in the past (in the
>indicative mood) with results existing afterwards - the perfect 
>speaking of
>existing results in the present, the pluperfect speaking of existing
>results in the past.

Yes, well put.

>There's a fuller description of each as well as examples at that site.
>For Classical Greek, see Smyth at the Perseus web site, ##1945-1954.
>When I say "I am content with that description," I mean that I accept 
>some GNT perfects and pluperfects are consummative, but I think that 
>resultative usage is far more common when the perfect or pluperfect 
>in the GNT; I think this is particularly true of the very common 
>and of such Johannine verb-forms as Pilate's hO GEGRAFA GEGRAFA and 
>final word: TETELESTAI.
>Nevertheless, I want to underscore that I don't consider this a full or
>satisfactory answer to your question, Paul.

Well, it is a pretty good start.  Thanks, Carl.

Paul Dixon

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