first and second aorist confusion

Carlton Winbery winberyc at
Tue Jul 20 15:59:48 EDT 1999

One observation/question on this.

>At 6:05 AM +0000 7/15/99, Charlie Trimm wrote:
>>I came across something interesting the other day in Matthew that I was
>>wondering about regarding the aorist endings on PROSERCOMAI.
>>In Matthew 4:11 it is PROSHLQON, the second aorist ending, as it is
>>usually found.
>>But in Matthew 5:1 and Luke 13:31, it is PROSHLQAN, the first aorist
>>ending. Anyone know why in these two cases the first aorist endings are
>While it is probably true that every living language is a "language in
>flux," this is particularly true of Koine Greek. From a diachronic
>perspective, it is the case that from the earliest literary texts--the
>Homeric epics--the Greek language is evolving in the direction of Modern
>Greek usage wherein the Alpha endings (-A/-AS/-E/-AMEN/-ATE/-AN) are the
>standard active (or I'd prefer to say 'default', since these endings are
>used for many intransitive verbs, such as PROSERCOMAI) endings for all past
>tenses, including the imperfect.
>Already in Homer there are two verbs that are commonly conjugated in the
>aorist with Alpha endings: ECEA from CEW ('pour') and HNEGKA from FERW
>('bear,' 'endure')--but in Homer one also finds the standard thematic
>('second') aorist endings for FERW: HNEGKON, HNEGKES, HNEGKE, KTL. In the
>case of FERW then, there are concurrent "first" and "second" aorist endings
>already in Homer, and that continues on through all of ancient Greek.
>By the period of NT Koine several more verbs are being conjugated with both
>"first" (Alpha) and "second" (thematic) aorist endings. Particularly common
>are such forms as HLQA for older HLQON and EIDA for older EIDON. The
>existence of these concurrent "first" and "second" aorist conjugational
>forms can be disconcerting, but it's a fact that learners of NT Greek need
>to become aware of at an early point.
I certainly agree with all that Carl has said on the "second aorist" forms
with "first aorist" endings. I think I remember doing searches when I was
working on the Morphology of NT Greek that all instances in the NT were of
the third person plural forms, i.e. where the nu is the final letter. Can
any one confirm or disprove that?  Also, I was once playing with the Gospel
k. to John and found that several of the "second aorist" verbs ran in
patterns in certain sections of John. Somewhere I have the notes on that
study. What I mean is that for several chapters the second aorists would
have normal endings, then for several chapters the "first aorist" endings
and then back to the normal endings. I thought at the time that that might
indicate different sources for the composition of John.

Dr. Carlton L. Winbery
Foggleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
winbery at
winberyc at
Ph. 1 318 448 6103 hm
Ph. 1 318 487 7241 off

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