Gen 5.1-6; What ARE the clues for sequence in BH?

Joe A. Friberg JoeFriberg at
Mon Dec 27 22:54:06 EST 1999

----- Original Message -----
From: <peter_kirk at>
Sent: Monday, December 27, 1999 3:50 PM

In responding I have rearranged some of your material and omitted some:

Regarding the meaning of aor. ptcs *following* the main verb, I find the
classification by Brooks and Winbery most telling:

> 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
> verb.

That is, the salient features identified by B/W are logical rather than
termporal, and this dichotomy between logical emphases and temporal emphasis
corresponds exactly to whether the aor. ptc. follows or precedes the main

While it may be true (but could be debatable) that the participial events in
1) and 2) preced the main (verb) event and 3) follows it, this temporal
relationship (one way or the other) is not in focus.  If it is not in focus,
the construction is not determinative w/ respect to the order of the events.
In fact, I many cases, there is essential simultaneity of the action
indicated by a participial following the main verb with the main verb

The exs. were:
> 1) John 20:20: echaresan hoi mathetai idontes ton kurion
> 2) Hebrews 2:3: pws hemeis ekfeuxometha telikautes amelesantes
> swterias?
> 3) Acts 8:27: hos eleluthei proskuneswn eis Ierousalem.

In 1), and 3), the action is close to simultaneous; in 2), the fut. tense
may give the definite clue as to the relative time of the events.

> 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.

On the contrary, I have not found, nor have I even seen a purported
counterexample to the principle that an aorist ptc. preceding the main verb
indicates a preparatory action that precedes the main verb.  So I still
maintain that the syntax, which depends on both the order (preceding main
verb) and morphology (aor. ptc.) determines a sequential ordering of these

Now on Russian, which I don't know, I have a pragmatically based question
regarding the relative ordering of events:

> 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.

Seems to me to be difficult to stretch one's legs out before one sits down.

Now to the main topic: Hb wayyiqtol.

> 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.
> Peter Kirk

I agree, and if this is indeed the case, there must be indicators of both
how and why the prototypically sequential nature of wayyiqtols are used
non-sequentially.  For discussion, I would like to look at Gen 5.1-6, a
passage you have already raised for discussion.  (If this data has
previously been exhaustively considered, please bear with me, I have only
recently started threads on this topic!)

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list