Re Flashbacks

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at
Sat Jan 4 01:12:32 EST 2003

> >
> > How would you then account for the imperfectives and presents in the
> > following verses?
> >
> > 5:8 ELEGEN GAR - for he had been saying...
> > 5:9a KAI EPHRWTA AUTON - and he had been questioning him
> > 5:9b KAI LEGEI AUTWi - and he had said to him
> > 5:10 KAI PAREKALEI - and he had been imploring him
> >
> RSV takes this paragraph as follows:
> 5:7 and crying out with a loud voice, he said, "What have you to do with
> me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment
> me."
> 5:8 For he had said to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!"
> 5:9 And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is
> Legion; for we are many."
> 5:10 And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country.
> So, only 5.8 seems to be a "flashback", and 5.9-10 a continuation of
> 5:7.

Yes, you are right. On second thought I agree that only 5:8 is a flashback.
My comments were made in too much of a hurry. It is only verses 7 and 8 we
combine and reorder. We still need to explain the imperfectives in 9-10,

> What is a Hebrew circular story?

It is like a modern newspaper article in that the story is told in two or
three rounds. First, there is a brief summary, like a headline. Next comes
the details of the story. The second round picks up the chronology before
the end of the first round. Sometimes, the same story is told in a third

Maybe the most famous example of such a Hebrew story is Gen 1, where verse 1
is the headline and verses 1:2 to 2:3 gives the details from one
perspective. The rest of chapter 2 gives details of the same story from a
different perspective. This rhetorical structure is extremely common in the
OT, and is occasionally reflected in the NT, especially in books that are
clearly written in a Hebrew thought pattern, such as 1 John and Revelation.
Generally speaking, Hebrew story telling is thematic more than

Iver Larsen

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