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

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10 h]rga2613 e]poi65 e]blasfh25. 64 ei#paj, 2719

e@paqon, 2746 e]gkate7 ei#pon, 2818 e]do27

forbids), and perhaps 2142 e]genh

course be otherwise explained. If they rightly belong to this

heading, the English perfect is the correct rendering. Equally

tied to the have tense are the aorists of indefinite time-refer-

ence; but we must be ready to substitute our preterite as soon

as we see reason to believe that the time of occurrence is at

all prominently before the writer's mind. Clear examples of

this are 521 etc. h]kou10 eu$ron, 1025 e]peka3 etc

a]ne16 brings in the note of time: cf

Shakspere, "Why dost thou wrong her that did ne'er wrong

thee?), 1315 e]paxu6 h]kurw24 1823 222


included action partially past: Zahn compares Jn 319), 2116

kathrti23 a]fh45 kate20. 22 e]ke

2723 e]poi
The Perfect :— Our study of the English periphrastic

perfect prepares us for taking up the most

important, exegetically, of all the Greek Tenses. In Greek, as in


English, the line between aorist and perfect is not always easy

to draw. The aorist of the event just passed has inherently

that note of close connexion between past and present which

is the differentia of the Greek perfect; while the perfect was

increasingly used, as the language grew older, as a substitute

for what would formerly have been a narrative aorist. A

cursory reading of the papyri soon shows us how much more

the vernacular tends to use this tense; and the inference

might be drawn that the old distinction of aorist and perfect

was already obsolete. This would however be entirely

unwarrantable. There are extremely few passages in the

papyri of the earlier centuries A.D. in which an aoristic perfect

is demanded, or even suggested, by the context. It is simply

that a preference grows in popular speech for the expression

which links the past act with present consequences.a A casual

Used in place example from the prince of Attic writers

of Aorist. will show that this is not only a feature of late

Greek. Near the beginning of Plato's Crito,

Socrates explains his reason for believing that he would not

die till the third day. "This I infer," he says in Jowett's

English, "from a vision which I had last night, or rather only

just now." The Greek, however, is tekmai


point of time in the past would have made ei#don as inevitable

as the aorist is in English, had not Socrates meant to em-

phasise the present vividness of the vision. It is for exactly

the same reason that e]gh

in 1 Co 154 (see above). So long as the close connexion of

the past and the present is maintained, there is no difficulty

whatever in adding the note of time. So in Rom 167 we have

to say either "who were in Christ before me," or (much better)

"who have been in Christ longer than I." A typical parallel

from the papyri may be seen in OP 477 (ii/A.D.) tw?n to> pe

e@toj. . . e]fhbeuko

"who have been of age since the fifth year." Now, if the

tendency just described grew beyond a certain limit, the

fusion of aorist and perfect would be complete. But it must

be observed that it was not the perfect which survived in the

struggle for existence. In MGr the old perfect forms only

survive in the passive participle (with reduplication syllable

a See pp. 247 f.


lost), and in the -ka which was tacked on to the aorist

passive (e]de

or brh?ka (Thumb, Handb. 94), aoristic in meaning. It does

not appear that the perfect had at all superseded the aorist

--though in a fair way to do so—at the epoch when it was

itself attacked by the weakening of reduplication which

destroyed all chance of its survival as a distinct form, in

Ultimate decay competition with the simpler formation of

of the Perfect. the aorist. But these processes do not fairly

set in for at least two centuries after the

NT was complete. It is true that the LXX and inscrip-

tions show a few examples of a semi-aoristic perfect in

the pre-Roman age, which, as Thumb remarks (Hellenismus,

p. 153), disposes of the idea that Latin influence was work-

ing; cf Jannaris, § 1872. But it is easy to overstate their

number.a Thus in Ex 321 kexro

(as Thumb and Jannaris), for it would be wholly irregular

to put an aorist in oratio obliqua to represent the original

present or perfect "Moses is tarrying" or "has tarried":

its analogue is rather the xroni48. Nor will it

do to cite the perfects in Heb 1117 al (see pp. 129, 143 ff.),

where the use of this tense to describe what "stands written"

in Scripture is a marked feature of the author's style:b cf

Plato, Apol. 28C, o!soi e]n Troi<% tetleuth

the Athenians' "Bible." In fact Mt 1346 pe


sen is the only NT example cited by Jannaris which makes any

impression. (I may quote in illustration of this OP 482 (ii/A.D.)

xwri>j w$n a]pegraya pe

clearly seen in papyri for some centuries. Thus th?j genome

kai> a]popepemme

wife and is now divorced"; o!lon to>n xalko>n [deda]pa

au]tw< BU 814 (iii/A.D.), where an erased e]- shows that the scribe

meant to write the aorist and then substituted the more appro-

priate perfect. As may be expected, illiterate documents show

Perfect and confusion most: e.g. OP 528 (ii/A.D.) ou]k e]lou-

Aorist used sa
together. It is in the combinations of aorist and perfect

that we naturally look first for the weaken-

ing of the distinction, but even there it often appears clearly

drawn. At the same time, we may find a writer like Justin

a b See p. 248.


Martyr guilty of confusion, as in Apol. i. 2 2 pepoihkea]negei?rai, 32 e]ka ei]selh


. . . kai> gego . . . e@labe, ii. 2 pepoi

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