Greenwood professor of hellenistic greek and indo-european philology in the victoria university of manchester tutor in new testament language and literature


Action in the same graph, the Constative will be a Perspective

:)


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Action in the same graph, the Constative will be a

Perspective; line reduced to a point by perspective. The

Present has generally a durative action-

"linear," we may call it, to keep up the same graphic

Linear Action; illustration--as in ba

ing, basileu

The Perfect action is a variety by itself, denoting what

Perfect Action; began in the past and still continues: thus

from the "point" root weido, "discover,

descry," comes the primitive perfect oi#da, "I discovered (ei#don)

and still enjoy the results," i.e. "I know." The present

stems which show an i-reduplication (i!sthmi, gi
Iterative supposed to have started with an Iterative

Action. action, so that gi

present the succession of moments which are

individually represented by e]geno

the conjugations which are exclusively present. Other con-

jugations are capable of making both present and aorist
1 I venture to accept from a correspondent this new-coined word to represent

the German pumktuell, the English of which is preoccupied.



2 Unity of terminology demands our accepting this word from the German

pioneers, and thus supplementing the stores of the New English, Dictionary.

Otherwise one would prefer the clearer word "summary."

110 A GRAMMAR OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK.

stems, as e@fhn compared with e@bhn, graste

nature either (a) "punctiliar," (b) durative, or (c) capable of

being both. Thus the root of e]negkei?n, like our bring, is

essentially a "point" word, being classed as "Effective":

accordingly it forms no present stem. That of fefero,


bear, on the other hand, is essentially durative or "linear",

and therefore forms no aorist stem.1 So with that of e@sti, est,



is
, which has no aorist, while e]genono durative present. An example of the third class is e@xw,

which (like our own have) is ambiguous in its action. "I had

your money" may mean either "I received it" (point action)

or "I was in possession of it" (linear action). In Greek

the present stem is regularly durative, "to hold," while e@sxon

is a point word, "I received": thus, e@sxon para> or a]po> sou?

is the normal expression in a papyrus receipt.2 Misappre-

hension of the action-form of e@xw is responsible for most of

the pother about e@xwmen in Rom 51. The durative present

can only mean "let us enjoy the possession of peace" (dikaiw-

qe

and Paul wishes to urge his readers to remember and make

full use of a privilege which they ex hypothesi possess from

the moment of their justification. See p. 247.

Rationale of It is evident that this study of the kind

Defective of action denoted by the verbal root, and the

Verbs. modification of that action produced by the

formation of tense and conjugation stems,

will have considerable influence upon our lexical treatment

of the many verbs in which present and aorist are derived

from different roots. [Oraware")

is very clearly durative wherever it occurs in the NT; and

1 The new aorist (historically perfect) in the Germanic languages (our bore)

has a constative action.


2 Note also a petition, Par P 22 (ii/B.C.), in which the tenses are

carefully distinguished, as the erasure of an aorist in favour of the imperfect

shows. Two women in the Serapeum at Memphis are complaining of their

mother, who had deserted her husband for another man: kai> tou?to poh

ze ou]k e@sxe to> th?j a]dikhsa sunhrgan

o[ dhlou put on the face of the wrong-doer, but (her para-

mour) began to intrigue with her to destroy (her husband)."

THE VERB: TENSES AND MODES OF ACTION. 111


we are at liberty to say that this root, which is incapable of

forming an aorist, maintains its character in the perfect, "I

have watched, continuously looked upon," while o@pwpa would

be "I have caught sight of." Ei#don "I discovered," and

w@fqhn "I came before the, eyes of," are obviously point-

words, and can form no present. Ei#pon, has a similar dis-

ability, and we remember at once that its congeners (F)e@poj,

vox
, Sanskrit vac, etc., describe a single utterance: much the

same is true of e]rre

verbum
, and word. On the other hand, leaorist e@leca, is replaced in ordinary language by ei#pon, clearly

denotes speech in progress, and the same feature is very

marked in lo

in post-Homeric times along lines similar to those on which

the Latin sermo was produced from the purely physical verb


sero. One more example we may give, as it leads to our

remaining point. ]Esqi

met ] e]mou?, Mk 1418, is "he who is taking a meal with me."

The root ed is so distinctly durative that it forms no aorist,

but the punctiliar fagei?n (originally "to divide") supplies the

defect. It will be found that fagei?n in the NT is invariably

constative:1 it denotes simply the action of e]sqi

perspective, and not either the beginning or the end of that


Compounds and action. But we find the compound katesqi
Perfective katafagei?n, used to express the completed

Action. act, eating something till it is finished. How

little the preposition's proper meaning affects

the resulting sense is seen by the fact that what in Greek

is katesqidevorare," is in English "eat

up" and in Latin also "comesse." In all the Indo-Germanic

languages, most conspicuously and systematically in the

Slavonic but clearly enough in our own, this function of verb

compounds may be seen. The choice of the preposition which

is to produce this perfective action2 depends upon conditions
1 There is one apparent exception, Rev 1010, where o!te e@fagon au]to< is

"when I had eaten it up." But e@fagon is simply the continuation of

kate
2 One could wish that a term had been chosen which would not have

suggested an echo of the tense-name. "Perfective action" has nothing

whatever to do with the Perfect tense.

112 A GRAMMAR OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK.


which vary with the meaning of the verbal root. Most of them

are capable of "perfectivising" an imperfective verb, when the

original adverb's local sense has been sufficiently obscured,

We may compare in English the meaning of bring and bring



up, sit
and sit down, drive and drive away and drive home,1

knock
and knock in and knock down, take and overtake and

take over and betake, carry and carry off and carry through,

work and work out and work off, fiddle and fiddle in (Tenny-

son's "Amphion"), set and set back and set at and overset, see

and see to, write and write off, hear and hear out, break and


to-break (Judg 953 AV), make and make over, wake and wake

up, follow and follow up, come and come on, go and go round,

shine and shine away (= dispel by shining). Among all the

varieties of this list it will be seen that the compounded

adverb in each case perfectivises the simplex, the combination

denoting action which has accomplished a result, while the

simplex denoted action in progress, or else momentary action

to which no special result was assigned. In the above list

are included many exx. in which the local force of the

adverb is very far from being exhausted. Drive in, drive out,



drive off, drive away, and drive home are alike perfective, but

the goals attained are different according to the distinct

sense of the adverbs. In a great many compounds the

local force of the adverb is so strong that it leaves the action

of the verb untouched. The separateness of adverb and

verb in English, as in Homeric Greek, helps the adverb to

retain its force longer than it did in Latin and later

Greek. In both these languages many of the compound

verbs have completely lost consciousness of the meaning

originally borne by the prepositional element, which is

accordingly confined to its perfectivising function. This is

especially the case with com (con) and ex (e) in Latin, as in



consequi " follow out, attain," efficere "work out";2 and with

a]po<,a dia<, kata< and su

(qn^

"flee"), katadiwdown" (diw

1 "Prepositions," when compounded, are still the pure adverbs they were

at the first, so that this accusative noun turned adverb is entirely on all fours

with the rest. 2 See p. 237. [a See p. 247.

THE VERB: TENSES AND MODES OF ACTION. 113


katerga= "watch"). An example may be brought in here to

illustrate how this principle works in details of exegesis.

In Lk 829 the true force of the pluperfect, combined with the

vernacular usage of polloi?j xro

that the meaning is "it had long ago obtained and now

kept complete mastery of him." Sunarpa

perfective of a[rpra

but the establishment of a permanent hold. The inter-

pretation of su

its normal adverbial force is no longer at work. It is

however always possible for the dormant su

a glance at this very word in LS will show. "Seize and

carry away" is the common meaning, but in cunarpa

ta>j e]ma>j ei#xon xeHec. 1163) we may recognise

the original together. Probably the actual majority of

compounds with these prepositions are debarred from the

perfective force by the persistency of the local meaning: in

types like diaporeu

position is still very much alive. And though these three

prepositions show the largest proportion of examples, there

are others which on occasion can exhibit the perfectivising

power. Lightfoot's interpretation brings e]piginw

this category. The present simplex, ginw

"to be taking in knowledge." The simplex aorist has point

action, generally effective, meaning "ascertain, realise," but

occasionally (as in Jn. 1725, 2 Tim 219) it is constative: e@gnwn

se gathers into one perspective all the successive moments of

ginw3. ]Epignw?nai, "find out, determine,"

is rather more decisive than the gnw?nai (effective); but in

the present stem it seems to differ from ginw

ing the goal in the picture of the journey there—it tells

of knowledge already gained. Thus 1 Co 1312 would be

paraphrased, "Now I am acquiring knowledge which is only

partial at best: then I shall have learnt my lesson, shall know,

as God in my mortal life knew me." But I confess I lean

more and more to Dean Robinson's doctrine (Ephes. 248 ff.):

the vernacular is rich in e]pi< compounds of the kind he describes.

The meaning of the Present-stem of these perfec-

tivised roots naturally demands explanation. Since qn^<-

114 A GRAMMAR OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK.

skein is "to be dying" and a]poqanei?n "to die," what is

there left for a]poqn^

Present Stem rences of this stem in the NT will anticipate

of perfectivised some important points we shall have to make

Verbs under the heading of Tenses. Putting aside

the special use me1 we find

the present stem used as an iterative in 1 Co 1531, and as

frequentative in Heb 78 1023, 1 Co 1522, Rev 1413: the

latter describes action which recurs from time to time with

different individuals, as the iterative describes action repeated

by the same agent.2 In Jn 2123 and 1 Co 1532 it stands

for a future, on which usage see p. 120. Only in Lk 842,

2 Co 69, and Heb 1121 is it strictly durative, replacing the

now obsolete simplex qn^3 The simplex, however,

vanished only because the "linear perfective" expressed its

meaning sufficiently, denoting as it does the whole process

leading up to an attained goal. Katafeu

implies that the refuge is reached, but it depicts the journey

there in a coup d’oeil: katafugei?n is only concerned with the

moment of arrival. A very important example in the NT

is the recurrent oi[ a]pollu

much as a]poktei4

implies the completion of the process of destruction. When

we speak of a "dying" man, we do not absolutely bar the

possibility of a recovery, but our word implies death as the

goal in sight. Similarly in the cry of the Prodigal, lim&?

a]po17, and in that of the disciples in the storm,

sw?son, a]pollu25, we recognise in the perfective

verb the sense of an inevitable doom, under the visible con-

ditions, even though the subsequent story tells us it was

averted. In oi[ a]pollu18 al, strongly durative

though the verb is, we see perfectivity in the fact that the

goal is ideally reached: a complete transformation of its

1 Me(m. e@sesqai); c. aor. six times (Ac 126, Rom 818, Gal 323, Rev 32 (a]poqanei?n) 316

124; also Lk 2036 in D and Marcion).

2 Both will be (. . .), a series of points, on the graph hitherto used.

3 Te

fectivising in a "point-word" like this.



4 Note that in all three the simplex is obsolete, for the same reason in

each case.

THE VERB: TENSES AND MODES OF ACTION. 115
subjects is required to bring them out of the ruin implicit

in their state.



Preposition Before passing on, we may note the

not repeated. survival in NT Greek of a classical idiom

by which the preposition in a compound is

omitted, without weakening the sense, when the verb is

repeated. Thus in Euripides, Bacch. 1065, kath?gon, h#gon,

h#gon, answers to the English "pulled down, down, down."

I do not remember seeing this traced in the NT, but in

Rev 1010 (supra, p. 111 n.) e@fagon seems to be the continuation

of kate12 e@labon takes up pare

Rom 154 proegra

nw?ntej 1 Pet 110f., e]ndusa3, and sth?nai Eph 613(?):

— add 1 Co 109, Phil 124f. not, I think, Rom 29f. or Mt 517.19.

The order forbids 1 Co 122. In all these cases we are justified

in treating the simplex as a full equivalent of the compound;

but of course in any given case it may be otherwise explicable.


Growth of "The perfective Aktionsart in Polybius,"

Constative the earliest of the great Koinh< writers, forms

Aorist the subject of an elaborate study by Dr

Eleanor Purdie, in Indog. Forsch. ix. 63-153

(1898). In a later volume, xii. 319-372, II. Meltzer con-

troverts Miss Purdie's results in detail; and an independent

comparison with results derivable from NT Greek shows

that her conclusions may need considerable qualification. Re-

search in this field is, as Brugmann himself observes (Griech.

Gram.3 484), still in its initial stages; but that the Newnham

philologist is on the right lines generally, is held by some

of the best authorities, including Thumb, who thinks her

thesis supported by MGr.a Her contention is that since

Homer the aorist simplex had been progressively taking

the constative colour, at the expense of its earlier punc-



and of tiliar character; and that there is a

"Perfective " growing tendency to use the compounds,

Compounds. especially those with dia<, kata< and suexpress what in the oldest Greek could be

sufficiently indicated by the simplex. To a certain extent

the NT use agrees with that of Polybius. Thus fugei?n is

constative eleven times, "to flee," with no suggestion of the

prolongation of flight (feu
a see p. 247.

116 A GRAMMAR OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK.

plishment (diafugei?n or katafugei?n). (It seems to me clear

that in Heb 1134 we have e@fugon for the beginning of action,

—not the goal of safety attained, but the first and decisive step

away from danger. Similarly in Mt 2333 we should read

"how are ye to flee from the judgement of Gehenna?"—just

as in 37. The thought is not of the inevitableness of God's

punishment, but of the stubbornness of men who will not take

a step to escape it. The perfective therefore would be inap-

propriate.) The papyri decidedly support this differentiation

of simplex and compound. In the same way we find that

diw?cai is always constative in NT, while the perfective

katadiw?cai, "hunt down," occurs once in Mk 136, where

"followed after" (AV and RV) is not exact. ]Erga

is certainly constative in Mt 2516, 3 Jn 5, and Heb 1133: it

surveys in perspective the continuous labour which is so often

expressed by e]rga10, and even 2 Jn. 8, the

same is probably the case: the stress lies on the activity rather

than on its product. This last idea is regularly denoted

by the perfective compound with kata<. Fula

seems always constative, diafula

in Lk 410. Similarly thrh?sai "watch, keep," a continuous

process seen in perspective: sun- and dia-threi?n (present stem

only) denote "watching" which succeeds up to the point of

time contemplated. (See p. 237.) ]Agwni

in the durative present, but katagwni33) is

a good perfective. Fagei?n and katafagei?n differ quite on

Polybian lines (see above). On the other hand, in the

verbs Miss Purdie examines, the NT makes decidedly less

use of the compound than does Polybius; while the non-

constative aorists which she notes as exceptions to the

general tendency are reinforced by others which in Polybius

are seldom such. Thus i]dei?n is comparatively rare in

Polybius: "in several cases the meaning is purely constative,

and those exx. in which a perfective1 meaning must be

admitted bear a very small proportion to the extremely

frequent occurrences of the compound verb in the like

1 That is, "punctiliar": Miss Purdie does not distinguish this from per-

fective proper (with preposition). Brugmann, following Delbruck, has lately

insisted on reserving " perfective " for the compounds. Uniformity of ter-

minology is so important that I have altered the earlier phraseology throughout.

THE VERB: TENSES AND MODES OF ACTION. 117

sense " (op. cit. p. 94 f.). In the NT, however, the simplex

i]dei?n is exceedingly common, while the compound (kaqora?n,

Rom 120) only appears once. It is moreover—so far as I can

judge without the labour of a count--as often punctiliar

(ingressive) as constative: Mt 210, "when they caught sight

of the star," will serve as an example, against constative

uses like that in the previous verse, "the star which they

saw." (In numerous cases it would be difficult to dis-

tinguish the one from the other.) Here comes in one of

Meltzer's criticisms, that the historian's strong dislike of

hiatus (cf above, p. 92) accounts for very many of his

preferences for compound verbs. This fact undeniably

damages the case for Polybius himself; but it does not dis-

pose of inferences--less decided, but not unimportant—

which may be drawn from NT Greek and that of the papyri.

We are not surprised to find that the NT has no perfective

compounds of qea

a@rxomai, me9), or mi

(mi

is rather difficult to square with the rule. Its present

simplex is often obviously linear, as in now?n kai> fronw?n, the

standing phrase of a testator beginning a will: the durative

"understand" or "conceive" is the only possible translation

in many NT passages. The aor. in Jn 1240 and Eph 34 may

be the constative of this, or it may be ingressive, "realise."

But it is often difficult to make a real perfective out of the

compound katanoh?sai, which should describe the completion

of a mental process. In some passages, as Lk 2023 ("he

detected their craftiness"), or Ac 731 ("to master the mystery"),

this will do very well; but the durative action is most cer-

tainly represented in the present katanoei?n, except Ac 2730

("noticed one after another"). Maqei?n is sometimes con-

stative, summing up the process of manqa

often purely point action, "ascertain": so in Ac 2327, Gal 32,

and frequently in the papyri. In other places moreover it

describes a fully learnt lesson, and not the process of study.

On Miss Purdie's principle this should be reserved for

katamaqei?n, which occurs in Mt 628: both here and for

katanoh24. 27 the RV retains

the durative "consider." It may however mean "understand,

118 A GRAMMAR OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK.

take in this fact about." The NT use of tele

widely from that of Polybius, where the perfective compound

(sunt.) greatly predominates: in NT the simplex outnumbers

it fourfold. Moreover the aorist in the NT is always punctiliar

("finish"): only in Gal 516 is the constative "perform” a

possible alternative. ]Orgisqh?nai is another divergent, for

instead of the perfective diorg., "fly into a rage," we six

times have the simplex in the NT, where the constative

aorist "be angry" never occurs.1 Finally we note that

kaqe

down," which is kaqi

A few additions might be made. Thus Lk 1913 has the simplex

pragmateu

v.15 diepragmateu

majority of the dia< compounds retain the full force of the dia<.

Provisional The net result of this comparison may

Results. perhaps be stated thus, provisionally: for

anything like a decisive settlement we must

wait for some xalke

through the papyri and the Koinh< literature with a minuteness

matching Miss Purdie's over her six books of Polybius—a

task for which a year's holiday is a condicio sine qua non.

The growth of the constative aorist was certainly a feature

in the development of later Greek: its consequences will

occupy us when we come to the consideration of the Tenses.

But the disuse of the "point" aorist, ingressive or effective,

and the preference of the perfective compound to express

the same meaning, naturally varied much with the author.

The general tendency may be admitted as proved; the extent

of its working will depend on the personal equation. In the

use of compound verbs, especially, we cannot expect the neglige

style of ordinary conversation, or even the higher degree of

elaboration to which Luke or the auctor ad Hebraeos could rise,

to come near the profusion of a literary man like Polybius.2


Time and Perhaps this brief account of recent re-

Tense. searches, in a field hitherto almost untrodden

by NT scholars, may suffice to prepare the


1 Rev 1118 might mean "were angry," but the ingressive "waxed angry"

(at the accession of the King) suits the context better. 2 See p. 237.

THE VERB: TENSES AND MODES OF ACTION. 119
way for the necessary attempt to place on a scientific basis

the use of the tenses, a subject on which many of the most

crucial questions of exegesis depend. It has been made

clear that the notion of (present or past) time is not by any

means the first thing we must think of in dealing with tenses.

For our problems of Aktionsart it is a mere accident that

feu

past: the main point we must settle is the distinction between

feug and fug which is common to all their moods.

The Present :— On the Present stem, as normally denoting

linear or durative action, not much more

need now be said. The reader may be reminded of one idiom

which comes out of the linear idea, the use of words like

pa

perfect. Thus in 2 Co 1219 "have you been thinking all

this time?" or Jn 1527, "you have been with me from the

beginning." So in MGr, e[ch?nta mh?naj s ] a]gapw? (Abbott 222).

The durative present in such cases gathers up past and pre-

sent time into one phrase. It must not be thought, however,

that the durative meaning monopolises the present stem. In

the prehistoric period only certain conjugations had linear

action; and though later analogic processes mostly levelled

the primitive diversity, there are still some survivals of

importance. The punctiliar force is obvious in certain

presents. Burton (MT 9) cites as "aoristic presents" such

words as paragge18, a]fi5 ("are this

moment forgiven,"—contr. a]fi23), Ac 934,

etc. So possibly a]fi4, which has a]fh

its representative in Mt. But here it seems better to

recognise the iterative present—"for we habitually forgive":

this is like the difference between Lk and Mt seen in their

versions of the prayer for daily bread. (Cf also Lk 630.) Blass

(p. 188) adds a]spa

sasqe. It is very possible that in the prehistoric period a

distinct present existed for the strong aorist stem, such as

Giles plausibly traces in a@rxesqai compared with the durative

e@rxesqai.1 The conjecture--which is necessarily unverifiable

1 Manual2 482. The ar is like ra in trapei?n against tre

Greek representative of the original vocalic r.

120 A GRAMMAR OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK.
—would sufficiently explain this verb's punctiliar action.

But it may indeed be suspected that point and line action

were both originally possible in present and aorist-stem for-

mations which remained without formative prefix or suffix.

On this assumption, analogical levelling was largely responsible

for the durative character which belongs to most of the

special conjugation stems of the present. But this is con-

jectural, and we need only observe that the punctiliar roots



denoting future which appear in the present stem have given

time; rise to the use of the so-called present tense

to denote future time.1 In au@rion a]poqn^<-

skomen (1 Co 1532) we have a verb in which the perfective

prefix has neutralised the inceptive force of the suffix –i

it is only the obsoleteness of the simplex which allows it ever

to borrow a durative action. Ei#mi in Attic is a notable

example of a punctiliar root used for a future in the present

indicative. But though it is generally asserted that this use

of present tense for future originates in the words with

momentary action, this limitation does not appear in the

NT examples, any more than in English. We can say,

"I am going to London to-morrow" just as well as "I go":

and die5, gi2, and other futural

presents that may be paralleled from the vernacular of the

papyri, have no lack of durativity about them. In this stage

of Greek, as in our own language, we may define the futural

present as differing from the future tense mainly in the tone

of assurance which is imparted. That the Present is not

primarily a tense, in the usual acceptation of the term, is


and past time; shown not only by the fact that it can

stand for future time, but by its equally

well-known use as a past. The "Historic" present

is divided by Brugmann (Gr. Gram.3 484 f.) into the

"dramatic" and the "registering" present. The latter

registers a date, with words like gi

I cannot recall a NT example, for Mt 24 is not really

parallel. The former, common in all vernaculars—we have

only to overhear a servant girl's "so she says to me," if we
1 Compare the close connexion between aorist (not present) subjunctive and

the future, which is indeed in its history mainly a specialising of the former.

THE VERB: TENSES AND MODES OF ACTION. 121

desiderate proof that the usage is at home among us--is

abundantly represented in the NT.1 From that mine of

statistical wealth, Hawkins's Horae Synopticae, we find that Mk

uses the historic present 151 times, Mt 93 times, Lk 8 times,

with 13 in Ac; also that it is rare in the rest of the NT, ex-

cept in Jn. But it is not true that it was "by no means common

in Hellenistic Greek." Sir John Hawkins himself observes

that it is common in Josephus and in Job: Mr Thackeray

notes 145 exx. in 1 Sam alone--its rarity in LXX was only

inferred from the absence of le

(except in 849) altered Mark's favourite usage means that it

was too familiar for his liking. I have not catalogued the

evidence of the papyri for this phenomenon, but it is common.

OP 717 may be cited as a document contemporary with the

NT, in which a whole string of presents does duty in nar-

rative. It may be seen alternating with past tenses, as in

the NT: cf the curious document Par P 51 (ii/B.C.), recording

some extremely trivial dreams. Thus a]nu

klai e@rxomai . . . e@legon, etc.

It was indeed a permanent element in prose narrative,

whether colloquial or literary;2 but it seems to have run

much the same course as in English, where the historic

present is not normally used in educated conversation or in

literature as a narrative form. It carries a special effect of

its own, which may be a favourite mannerism of a particular

author, but entirely avoided by others. Applying this prin-

ciple, we conceive that Josephus would use the tense as an

imitator of the classics, Mark as a man of the people who

heard it in daily use around him; while Luke would have

Greek education enough to know that it was not common in

cultured speech of his time, but not enough to recall the

encouragement of classical writers whom he probably never

read, and would not have imitated if he had read them.

The limits of the historic present are well seen in the fact

that it is absent from Homer, not because it was foreign to

1 An instructive parallel for le

Logia, may be seen in Roman edicts. Thus Syll. 376 Kai?sar (Nero) le

ib. 656 (ii/A.D.—a proconsul); OGIS 665 (49 A. D. ), etc.

2 A peculiar use of the historic present is noticeable in MGr, where it fre-

quently takes up a past tense: thus, o[ Tso pallhka

"drew his sword and calls" (Abbott 44—see also 22, 26, etc.). See p. 139 n.

122 A GRAMMAR OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK.


the old Achaian dialect, but because of its felt incongruity in

epic style: it is absent from the Nibelungenlied in the same way.

The Moods of the present stem will be treated under their

separate heads later. But there are two uses which should

come in here, as bearing on the kind of action belonging to

Present and the tense-stem. The first concerns the two

Aorist in normal methods of expressing Prohibition in

Prohibitions: classical Greek, which survive in NT Greek,

though less predominant than before. There

is a familiar rule that mh< is used with present imperative

or aorist subjunctive; but the distinction between these,

expounded by Gottfried Hermann long ago, seems to have

been mostly unnoticed till it was rediscovered by Dr

Walter Headlam in CR xvii. 295, who credits Dr Henry

Jackson with supplying the hint. Dr Jackson himself con-

tributes a brief but suggestive note in xviii. 262 f. (June

1904), and Dr Headlam then writes in full upon the subject

in xix. 30-36, citing the dicta of Hermann from which the

doctrine started, and rebutting some objections raised by Mr

H. D. Naylor.a Dr Jackson's words may be cited as linking

the beginning and end of the language-history, and proving

incidentally that the alleged distinction must hold for the NT

language, which lies midway. "Davidson told me that, when


in Modern he was learning modern Greek, he had been

Greek; puzzled about the distinction, until he heard

a Greek friend use the present imperative to

a dog which was barking. This gave him the clue. He

turned to Plato's Apology, and immediately stumbled upon

the excellent instances 20E mh< qorubh

begins, and mh> qorubei?te, when it has begun." The

latter means in fact "desist from interrupting," the former

"do not interrupt (in future)." Headlam shows how the

present imperative often calls out the retort, "But I am not

doing so," which the aorist locution never does: it would

require "No, I will not." This is certainly the case in MGr,

where mh< gra

writing, mh> gra
in Papyri; facts for classical and for present-day Greek

may be supplemented from the four volumes

of OP: we need not labour the proof of a canon which

could hardly be invalid for a period lying between periods



a See p. 247.

THE VERB: TENSES AND MODES OF ACTION. 123

in which it is known to have been in force. I have

noted in OP six cases of mh< c. aor. subj. referring to

requests made in a letter, which of course cannot be

attended to till the letter arrives. Thus mh> a]melh

mh> a@llwj poih . . . proskrou

ii/A.D.). One other (OP 744, i/B.C.) is worth quoting as a

sample of such requests followed by a reply: ei@rhkaj . . .

o!ti Mh< me e]pila

other hand, we have four cases of mh< c. pres. imper., all clearly

referable to the rule. Tou?to mh> lehad said)— mh<

a]gwnibis) "don't go on worrying" –mh> sklun

e]nph?nai (sic!) "don't bother to give information (??)": in the

last case (295 --i/A.D.) the writer had apparently left school

young, and we can only guess her meaning, but it may

well be "stop troubling." As we shall see, the crux is the

differentia of the present imperative, which is not easy to

illustrate decisively from the papyri. Hb P 56 (iii/B.C.) su> ou$#n

mh> e]no

the only case there—is obscured by hiatus. The prevalence

of reports and accounts in Tb P i. gives little opportunity

for the construction; but in the royal edict Tb P 6 (ii/B.C.),

we find kai> mhqeni> e]pitre

ti tw?n prodedhlwme

the rule is suggested by the words "as we have before

commanded," with which the sentence apparently opens:

a hiatus again causes difficulty. The frequency of these prohi-


and in NT. bitions in NT presents a very marked contrast

to the papyri, but the hortatory character of

the writing accounts for this. The following table gives the

statistics for mh< with the 2nd person:--


c. pres. imp. c. aor. subj.

Mt. 12 29

Mk 8 9

Lk. 27 19



Ac 5 4

Jn and Epp 19 1

Rev 3 5

Paul 47 8



Heb 5 5

Jas 7 2


1 Pet 1 2

------ ------

134 84

124 A GRAMMAR OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK.

We have included the cases where mh< is preceded by o!ra or

the like. But sometimes this is not (as in the Gospels) a

mere compound prohibition, like our "take care not to . . . “

In Gal 515 "take heed lest" can hardly be classed as a

prohibition at all; while in Mk 144, o!ra mhdeni> ei@p^j, there

is virtual parataxis, o!ra being only a sort of particle adding

emphasis. The analysis of the list raises several suggestive

points. In Mt we note that except 120 and 39 all the

examples are from sayings of Christ, 39 in all, while in

Lk 32 are thus described (36 if we include a citation of

four precepts from the Decalogue). Since Mt has 12 pres.

to 27 aor., but Lk 21 to 11, we see that there was no sort of

uniformity in translating from the Aramaic. There is no

case where Mt and Lk have varied the tense while using

the same word in reporting the same logion;1 but we find

Mt altering Mk in 2423, manifestly for the better, if the

canon is true. In Mk the balance is heavily inclined to

the pres., for 5 out of 9 aor. examples are in the recitation

of the commandments. In Jn there is only one aor., 37,

an exception the more curious in that desine mirari seems

clearly the meaning; but see below. Paul uses the aor.

even less than he appears to do, for Rom 106 is a quotation,

and Col 221 ter virtually such: this leaves only 2 Th 313,

1 Tim 51, 2 Tim 18, with Gal 515, on which see above. Heb

has only two aorists (1035 1225--the latter with ble

apart from a triple quotation 38. 15 47. The very marked

predominance of the mh> poi

except in Mt, and in Rev and 1 Pet so far as they go. In

the NT as a whole the proportion is 61 p.c. to 39, which

does not greatly differ from the 56 to 44 noted in the

Attic Orators by Miller (AJP xiii. 423).


Passages Before we proceed to draw our deduc-

agreeing. tions from the canon thus applied to the NT,

it will be well to present a few of the

passages in which it obviously holds. In the following

places the reply to the mh> poi

"I am not doing so" or "I will stop doing it":--Mk 536
1 D uses kwlu16, where Mt and Mk, as well as the other MSS

in Lk, have the much more appropriate present.

THE VERB: TENSES AND MODES OF ACTION. 125

939 and parallels, Lk 713 849 852 (cf Mk ti< klai20

117 1412 2328, Jn 216 514 1921 2017. 27, Ac 1015 189 2010,

Rom 1118. 20 1420, 1 Co 727, 1 Tim 523, Jas 21, 1 Pet 412,

Rev 55. In the following, the mh> poih

with "I will avoid doing so":—Mt 613 109 179, Mk 820

925, Lk 629 104 (contrast the two prohibitions) 148 218,

Ac 760 938 1628 2321, 1 Tim 51, 2 Tim 18, Rev 66 73 101

(following h@mellon gra


Difficulties. It must however be admitted that rather

strong external pressure is needed to force

the rule upon Paul. It is not merely that his usage is very

one-sided. So is that of Jn, and yet (with the doubtful

exception of 1037) every present he uses fits the canon

completely. But does mh> a]me14 require us to

believe that Timothy was "neglecting" his "charism"--

mhdeni> e]piti koinw22, that he was warned

to stop what he was hitherto guilty of? May we not rather

say that mh> a]me

like, a marked durative, with a similar account of mhde>

koinw22 "always

be deliberate in choosing your office-bearers," we see the

iterative1 force of the present coming in; and this we

recognise again in typical passages like Lk 107, Rom 613,

Eph. 426, Heb 139, 2 Jn 10, 1 Jn 41. Then in 1 Co 1439 how

are we to imagine Paul bidding the Corinthians "desist from

forbidding" the exercise of their darling charism? His

mh> kwlu

my previous words you might be inclined to do." In other

words, we have the conative," which is clearly needed also in

such passages as Gal 51. Mh> poi

various mental supplements, and not one only. It is "Stop

doing," or "Do not (from time to time)," or "Do not

(as you are in danger of doing)," or "Do not attempt to do."

We are not justified in excluding, for the purposes of the

present imperative in prohibitions, the various kinds of

action which we find attached to the present stem elsewhere.

1 See below, p. 128. In 1 Co l.c. we might also trace the iterative, if the

meaning is "Do not repress giossolaly, whenever it breaks out." So Dr Findlay.

Dr Abbott (JG 318 ff.) cites Mk 1321 against the "Do not persist" rule; and

Mr Naylor points to the e@ti required in 1 Ti 522.

126 A GRAMMAR OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK.
But since the simple linear action is by far the commonest

in the present stem, it naturally follows that mh> poi

means "stop doing," though (as Headlam admits, CR

xix. 31) it does not always mean this. To account for

such difficulties on the other side as Jn. 37, we may well

pursue the quotation from the scholar who started us on

this discussion. "Mh> dra

warn you against doing this, I beseech you will not; though

this is sometimes used when the thing is being done; notably

in certain cases which may be called colloquial or idiomatic,

with an effect of impatience, mh> frontiOh, never mind!

mh> deiNever fear! mh> qaumaYou mustn’t be surprised."



Why Paul One of my main motives in pursuing

prefers this long discussion has been to solve a

mh> poi

Church History. What are we to infer

when we find Paul bidding his converts mh> mequ

(Eph 518), mh> yeu9), or James changing the

logion of Mt 534. 36 into the suggestive present (512)?

What has been said will make it clear that such commands

were very practical indeed, that the apostles were not

tilting at windmills, but uttering urgent warnings against

sins which were sure to reappear in the Christian com-

munity, or were as yet only imperfectly expelled. The critics

who make so much of lapses among Christian converts of the

first generation in modern missions might have damned Paul's

results with equal reason. Time has shown—time will show.1


Present The second point in which we shall

Participle. anticipate later discussion concerns the uses

of the Participle. Like the rest of the verb,

outside the indicative, it has properly no sense of time

attaching to it: the linear action in a participle, connected

with a finite verb in past or present time, partakes in the time

of its principal. But when the participle is isolated by the

addition of the article, its proper timelessness is free to

come out. This can hardly happen with the aorist, where

point action in such a connexion cannot well exist without

the suggestion of past time: h[ tekou?sa must be rendered

"she who bore a child," not because tekou?sa is past in
1 See p. 238.

THE VERB: TENSES AND MODES OF ACTION. 127


time like e@teke, but because the action is not in progress

and therefore must be past. But h[ ti

in tragedy (cf Gal 427) as a practical synonym of h[ mh

the title of a continuous relationship. Winer (p. 444) gives

a good selection of classical exx.: add from the papyri such

as CPR 24 etc. (ii/A.D.) toi?j gamou?si, "the contracting

parties," who are called oi[ gegamhko

ment, CPR 28 (ii/A.D.). So o[ kle

28, is not "he who

stole" or "he who steals," but simply "the stealer," differing

from o[ kle

associated with the verb klepte

Baptist is called o[ bapti14. 24), "the baptiser," the

phrase is less of a technical term than the noun, but is other-

wise synonymous therewith. An agent-noun almost neces-

sarily connotes linear action: there are only a few exceptions,

like "murderer," "bankrupt," where the title is generally

given in respect of an act committed in the past. Hence

it coincides closely with the action of the present participle,

which with the article (rarely without—see Kuhner-Gerth

i. 266) becomes virtually a noun. We return to the aorist

participle later, and need not say more on the minute part

of its field which might be connected with the subject of

this paragraph. But it must be remarked that the principle

of a timeless present participle needs very careful application,

since alternative explanations are often possible, and grammar

speaks to exegesis here with no decisive voice. In my


Introduction2 (p. 19 9) Mt 2740, o[ katalun nao

destroyer of the temple," was given as an ex. of a participle

turned noun. But the conative force is not to be missed here:

"you would-be destroyer" gives the meaning more exactly.

Another ambiguous case may be quoted from Heb 1014: is

tou>j a[giazome

iterative, "those who from time to time receive sanctification,"

or purely durative, "those who are in process of sanctifica-

tion"? The last, involving a suggestive contrast with the

perfect tetelei ses&me

of Eph 25. 8) of a work which is finished on its Author's

side, but progressively realised by its objects,—brings the

tense into relation with the recurrent of oi[ s&zo

oi[ a]pollu

128 A GRAMMAR OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK.
The examples will suffice to teach the importance of

caution.

The Imperfect. We turn to the Imperfect, with which we

enter the sphere of Tense proper, the idea of

past time being definitely brought in by the presence of the

augment. This particle—perhaps a demonstrative base in

its origin, meaning "then" is the only decisive mark of

past or present time that the Indo-Germanic verb possesses,

unless the final -i in primary tenses is rightly conjectured to

have denoted present action in its prehistoric origin. Applied

to the present stem, the augment throws linear action

into the past; applied to the aorist, it does the same for

punctiliar action. The resultant meaning is naturally various.

We may have pictorial narrative, as contrasted with the

summary given by the aorist. Thus the sculptor will some-

times sign his work o[ dei?na e]poi




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