[B-Greek] Rev 9:1 - PEPTWKOTA

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Thu Jul 15 06:36:54 EDT 2010


On Jul 15, 2010, at 5:44 AM, Tony Pope wrote:

> 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.

Oh, I rather doubt that too. I prefaced my account with an indication that it was a superficial reading of this text and noted too that this author doesn't observe Koine Greek grammatical conventions.

> 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.

I too think that an aorist could have been used. I've argued in the past that I think that aorist and perfect tense in Koine Greek are in the process of conflation, a process completed much, much earlier in Latin. Understanding PEPTWKOTA as a "passé indéfini" one might English this as "I saw a star fall from the sky ... " That may be what the author intended, but this author has a penchant for playing tricks on a reader: sometimes we think we know what he means, while on other occasions he seems to have adopted a striking expression deliberately (e.g. hO WN, hO HN ...), and sometimes we wonder how sound his grasp of conventional Greek grammar really is. Such being the case, I hesitate to attempt any firm conclusions about constructions such as this in Revelation.

> 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.
> EQEWROUN TON SATANAN hWS ASTRAPHN EK TOU OURANOU PESONTA.
> 
> 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?

I've always thought the the statement in Luke 10:18 fascinating: it's not just something seen but something watched -- like fireworks when an explosion of radial streamers flashes out and seems to hang before fading away more quickly than it seems. It's more than vision; it's observation, even contemplation: the actual happening doesn't take long, but the fascination with it lingers. And to me, at least, lightning does that: flashes and vanishes while yet leaving a vivid image stamped on the retina for a while.

I guess that constitutes a thought. I have found the question and the comparison with the Lucan text fascinating.

Carl W. Conrad

> --------------------
> 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
>> EIDON ASTERA EK TOU OURANOU PEPTWKOTA
>> 
>> 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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Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)






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