[b-hebrew] Prophetic Perfect?

furuli at online.no furuli at online.no
Wed May 19 04:07:21 EDT 2004

Dear Kevin, Liz, and Julie,

In order to focus on the basic question, namely, the QATAL  future 
reference, let us avoid passages where the time reference can be 
viewed differently. So please consider what I wrote in a previous 

"In my doctoral thesis I have translated Jeremiah 50 and 51 into 
English, and this is a *prophecy* about Babel. In the 104 verses I 
have translated, the following verbs  with simple future: 70 yiqtols, 
2 weyiqtols, 7 wayyiqtols, 49 weqatals, and 63 qatals. In addition, 4 
qatals are translated with future perfect. "  The verbs are found in 
the following verses: Jeremiah 
50:1,2,3,5,8,12,15,18,21,23,24,25,27,29,31,33,43,45, and 

Please look at these two chapters and decide how many QATALs and 
WAYYIQTOLs you will translate by simple future? And if you choose 
another tense, please indicate your arguments for that.

Of the about one thousand QATALs with future reference I have listed, 
less than 10 per cent should be viewed as future perfect (according 
to the context), so in most places I will use simple future. There 
are quite a number of places where the choice of QATAL, while being 
simple future, could signal stress of some kind, and this must be 
considered by the translator.  The following questions should be 
considered: The way grammars and textbooks define QATAL, does this 
mean that a simple future meaning is excluded?  2) Can we trust these 
definitions, or are they in need of a revision?

Best regards


Rolf Furuli

University of Oslo

>So, is it established from Hebrew, that the perfect refers to completed
>action that is past at the time of speaking/writing?  I ask because other
>languages that uses a perfect/perfective do not necessarily place the time
>reference of the perfect only at the time of speaking, but can place the
>time reference at a future [or past] time and then present the action/state
>as complete at that time.  I other words, does qatal equal past/past
>perfect, or can it also be seen as past perfect/present perfect/future
>perfect?  If so, there is no 'prophetic perfect', but simply a normal
>perfect whose reference point is future.  I have assumed my teacher meant
>the second option in his explanation of qatal, as he said it was always
>perfect, but could be present or future.  I may need to drag out a few
>grammar books.
>Kevin Riley

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