[B-Greek] Rev 9:1 - PEPTWKOTA

Tony Pope borikayaama_tekiri at sil.org
Thu Jul 15 05:44:58 EDT 2010

No doubt this is sticking my neck out, but I find it hard to believe that the text should be 
understood to mean that John only saw the star after it had fallen.

I suspect that the aorist tense could have been used, as indeed also the present, but the perfect is 
chosen perhaps to focus the reader's attention on the new sphere of activity of the star, as 
described in the following context. It was given a key and proceeded to open the abyss. In other 
words, the state of having fallen or dropped is more relevant than the event of falling/dropping. 
It's obviously implied that the star previously fell and why not also that John saw that happen? Not 
that I wish to argue that all cases of the perfect participle after a verb of perception are to be 
taken this way, but that there is a certain fluidity with respect to time and the context should be 
given full weight.

It's interesting to compare with Luke 10.18, where the aorist PESONTA is used and where it is 
difficult to imagine how something that falls like lightning can be seen only after the event:

ἐθεώρουν τὸν σατανᾶν ὡς ἀστραπὴν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πεσόντα.

Admittedly EQEWROUN is imperfect tense but to explain that as referring to a considerable time 
period whereby the lightning comes down in slow motion seems equally unsatisfactory.

Any thoughts?

Tony Pope

On Jul 12, 2010, at 7:31 PM, Gareth Burton wrote:

> The following message was approved for list-distribution but somehow fell through the cracks.
> Forwarded for: Womble Song <womblesong at googlemail.com>
> Date: July 12, 2010 5:25:08 PM EDT
> To: greek B-Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Subject: Rev 9:1 - PEPTWKOTA
> Hi. I am curious about the word PEPTWKOTA (fallen) in Rev 9:1.
> ειδον αστερα εκ του ουρανου πεπτωκοτα
> Some translations suggest that John sees the star actually fall from
> heaven but others do not, keeping the falling strictly past.
> I know PEPTWKOTA is the perfect participle. So "having fallen" seems
> reasonable.
> But in the Greek is this the "immediate" past that John would have
> witnessed in the vision or is it more the state of the star before
> John's vision of it began?
> Or is that non-determinable?

On the surface, this would appear to be an instance of a verb of perception (EIDON) with accusative 
noun and participle indicating an action perceived; since the participle is a perfect participle, 
the sense derived from this understanding of the construction is: "I saw that a star had fallen from 
the sky." That said, it should be noted that the author of Revelation is not noted for strict 
observance of conventional grammatical usage.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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