[B-Greek] Matthew 24:34

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Jun 17 07:33:38 EDT 2003

At 8:13 PM -0400 6/16/03, <bertdehaan at gosympatico.ca> wrote:
> The "exegetical insight" section of Mounce's BBG chapter 22 speaks about
>this. I would like to quote this and see if there are any comments about
>it being a valid discussion.
>"The aorist... is the indefinite tense that states only the fact of the
>action without specifying its duration. When the aorist describes an
>action as a unit event it may accentuate one of three possibilities....1.
>inceptive or ingressive 2. constative or durative 3. culminative or telic.
>These aspects of the indefinite aorist may shed some light on a perplexing
>saying of Jesus in his Olivet discourse... I tell you the truth, this
>generation will certainly not pass away until all these things GENHTAI.
>The difficulty lies in the fact that Jesus has already described the end
>of the world in vivid terms .... unless the expression "this generation"
>is stretched to include the entire age from Jesus' first to his second
>coming (a less likely option), the aorist GENHTAI must provide the clue.
>If we view the verb as an ingressive aorist and translate it from the
>perspective of initiated action, the saying may be rendered, "I tell you
>the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these
>things begin to come to pass."
>This nuance of the same aorist form may also be seen in the angel
>Gabriel's words to Zechariah (Luke 1:20): "And now you will be silent and
>not able to speak until the day GENHTAI TAUTA." Not only the birth but the
>adult ministry of John the Baptist is prophesied by Gabriel in vv. 13-17,
>yet Zechariah recovers his speech as soon as he writes the name of his
>infant son John on a tablet (vv.62-64). Accordingly, v.20 should be
>translated,"And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day
>these things begin to happen.
>The student is well advised, then, to pay careful attention to the
>contextual meaning of the larger sense unit and interpret the aorist as
>the pericope or paragraph would suggest."
>This makes good sense to me but I would love to hear what some of you
>think about it. Thank you.
>Bert de Haan.

Although less than 24 hours have elapsed since Bert's message was
distributed, I thought there might be some comment from another list-member
regarding Mounce's "exegetical insights" in general or this one in
particular. I know that to some, perhaps to many users of Mounce's primer
these are one of the most attractive features of a good textbook; for my
part, on the couple occasions when I used the textbook for teaching, I
found them annoying and distracting, often tendentious, occasionally even
making extraordinary claims on the basis of rather dubious grammatical
distinctions. And such is the case with this one in particular, where
Professor Mounce argues that the aorist subjunctive GENHTAI in Mt 24:34 --
and also in Lk 1:20 -- should be understood as an "inceptive or ingressive"

For my part, I haven't seen any convincing instance of the "inceptive or
ingressive aorist" outside of the indicative mood (I don't question the
legitimacy of this category). I shall not cite but simply list the
references that anyone who wishes to do so may check: BDF §331; Wallace
GGBB, pp. 558-9; AT Robertson GGNT p. 834; Smyth §1924. Smyth even
categorizes and offers a list of verbs subject to such usage, and Wallace
cites several NT passages (not including either of these texts in
question). I persist in my view of Mt 24:34 that hEWS AN PANTA TAUTA
GENHTAI does indeed mean "until all these things have come to pass."
Moreover I think that in Lk 1:20 there's no particular FOCUS upon the
inception of the sequence of events of John's ministry.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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