Hair-splitting for the Bald

Paul S. Dixon dixonps at
Sat Jul 10 23:58:20 EDT 1999

On Sat, 10 Jul 1999 17:04:32 -0400 "Carl W. Conrad"
<cwconrad at> writes:
>At 10:48 AM -0400 7/10/99, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
>>On Sat, 10 Jul 1999 06:03:21 -0400 "Carl W. Conrad"
>><cwconrad at> writes:
>>>My heartfelt thanks to Daniel for sharing this information. It is
>>>for documenting the changes taking place over the course of time in
>>>usage of the tenses. It strikes me that another kind of 
>>>would promote this end is documenting which aorists in the GNT serve
>>>function of a pluperfect by indicating time prior to that of the 
>>>clause; this is not unrelated, I'm sure, to the usage of the aorist
>>>circumstantial participle to indicate time prior to that of a main
>>Yes, that was helpful.  Now, let's pool our data together.
>>Shouldn't be too hard to do.  You've already run an Accordance
>>check on the number of perfects and pluperfects in the GNT,
>>and somebody from Multnomah (sorry, his post was accidentally
>>deleted; ugh) ran it on the LXX.
>>Could somebody run an Accordance check for the number of
>>aorists in the narrative sections of the GNT (Gospels, Acts)?
>>Then, let's check the ratios of perfects/aorists in the narrative
>>sections of the GNT, LXX and Classical works.  If your theory
>>holds, Carl, then the ratio diminishes with time.
>I don't think that the ratios  of aorists to perfects and pluperfects 
>be that significant in themselves; I think analysis is required. 
>Already in
>older antiquity the aorist is being used to indicate time prior to 
>point of reference in the past: there are aorists in classical 
>that really need to be translated as pluperfects in certain contexts. 
>think the case may be more difficult to demonstrate for present 
>than for pluperfects in relationship to aorists, BUT I think that in 
>particular text or group of texts one needs to analyze the usage in 
>aorists and pluperfects to see where an aorist might be PREFERRED to a
>pluperfect. When I looked at the data on Genesis and Exodus given by 
>Christiansen, it appeared that more of the pluperfects in those books 
>of the standard type of OIDA, hESTHKA, and EIWQA even than in the GNT; 
>is to say, pluperfects seem to be more negligible in number in Genesis 
>Exodus even than in the GNT, and pluperfects are almost negligible in 
>GNT. I really do think the perfect tense forms need to be analyzed and
>statistics compiled more carefully to ascertain relative usage of the
>perfect in "resultative" and in "consummative" functions, after 
>out those verbs like OIDA, hESTHKA and EIWQA that have a "present" 
>For myself, at any rate, the ratios you're suggesting wouldn't have 
>probative value without a close look at how the tense-forms are 
>being used by the authors in question.


Earlier you had said:

>>>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.

If the perfect and pluperfect are rare in the Koine, and if the
"aorist has effectively assumed their functions in narrative,"
then one would certainly expect that such rarity would be 
evidenced by a comparison of the stats, regardless of the
nuances of the perfect (which I don't think have any bearing
upon the question).  If not, then what is the source of 
such suspicions?

I am not disagreeing with your initial statement, just suggesting
that it should be verifiable by such stats.

Paul Dixon

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