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

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Tue Dec 28 18:09:25 EST 1999

Well, I didn't give all of Brooks and Winbery's examples. But I can 
confirm that in all of their temporal examples the participle comes 
before the main verb, whereas in most but not all of their 
non-temporal examples the participle comes after the main verb.

In my 1) and 3), the actions may have been close to simultaneous but 
the logic requires that seeing came before reacting (if only by a 
millisecond), coming to a place preceded worshipping at that place.

You misunderstood the Russian example, the main verb does not mean 
"sit down" but is a stative verb "sat". But I agree that this is not a 
good example to prove the point.

I read with interest the rest of your posting (snipped to save space 
only). There does seem to be something odd about the sequencing in 
Genesis 5, which could be something to do with your 2-dimensional 
point, otherwise I have no idea how to account for it.

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Gen 5.1-6; What ARE the clues for sequence in BH?
Author:  <JoeFriberg at> at Internet
Date:    27/12/1999 21:54

----- 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!)


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