What ARE the clues for sequence in BH?
peter_kirk at sil.org
peter_kirk at sil.org
Mon Dec 27 16:50:40 EST 1999
Yes, I did say more or less what you remember, but perhaps I need to
qualify it. The aorist participle after the verb can indicate a prior
event, as in:
1) John 20:20: echaresan hoi mathetai idontes ton kurion
2) Hebrews 2:3: pws hemeis ekfeuxometha telikautes amelesantes
On the other hand it can also indicate a following event, as in:
3) Acts 8:27: hos eleluthei proskuneswn eis Ierousalem.
(Examples selected from J.A. Brooks and C.L. Winbery "Syntax of New
Testament Greek", University Press of America 1979/1988 pp.147-8)
Brooks and Winbery classify 1) as a causal use of the participle, 2)
as conditional, and 3) as telic. All of their examples of (purely)
temporal use of the participle have the participle before the main
So it is clear that in NT Greek the order of events is rigidly
determined neither by the participle and main verb relationship nor by
the word order. I think the order cannot be determined by syntax or
morphology, or even the two working together, but has to be
determined, if at all, from the context.
In Russian it seems the situation is similar. The perfecive gerund
(which corresponds to the Greek adverbial aorist participle)
"describes an action which is completed prior to the action denoted by
the main verb... may also denote a state resulting from the completion
of an action" (T. Wade, "A Comprehensive Russian Grammar", Blackwells
1992 p.389). For this, the only example Wade gives with the gerund
after the main verb is:
4) On sidel, vyt'anuv nogi
He sat, stretching out (=having stretched out) his legs
Note that the English "having stretched out" implies prior action even
when after the main verb.
But Wade later notes (p.391) that "occasionally the action denoted by
the verb in the main clause precedes that denoted by the gerund...
This construction should not, however, be regarded as the norm." His
5) On vyshel, khlopnuv dveryu
He went out, slamming the door
I am not sure if this helps with Hebrew or not. I still suspect that
we have something similar to the Russian: wayyiqtols are normally,
prototypically sequential, but occasionally may be out of sequence.
______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: What ARE the clues for sequence in BH?
Author: <JoeFriberg at email.msn.com> at Internet
Date: 26/12/1999 16:45
Note: on the Gk aor. ptcs., I believe Peter later indicated that the order
did not matter: either preceding or following main V, the ptc indicated
action prior to the main V. (I cannot find that this latter email right
now, so I may be remembering wrong.)
Nevertheless, in the case of the Gk aor. ptc., I am convinced it must
precede the main V to indicate prior action. I came across two nice
contrastive exs. in the same passage this last week:
Lk 2.17 IDONTES DE EGNWRISAN 'After they witnessed this sight, they spread
Lk 2.16 KAI HLQAN SPEUSANTES --where the aor. ptc. characterizes the main
action in an adverbial manner: 'So they hurried off'
I know of no exceptions to this contrast, neither a case in which an aor.
ptc. preceding the main V does NOT imply preceding/preparatory action to the
main V, nor of a case in which an aor. ptc. following the main V DOES
indicate prior action, although I would not be too terribly surprised to
find an exception to the latter.
Hence, it appears that it is the syntax working with the morphology that
provides the sequential meaning: aor. ptc. *preceding* main V.
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