Luke 23:34a

MADAVIDS@us.oracle.com (Mary Ann Davidson) wrote:

>I have a question about the use of the imperfect form of legw in Luke 23:34 
>(Jesus *said*, father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.) 
>My lexicon says that only the present and imperfect active and passive forms

>of legw are in use in the New Testament. Should I understand the imperfect 
>here as actually being completed in the past (since it cannot reasonably be 
>construed to mean repeated action (i.e. 'Jesus kept saying'). Why are only
>the present and imperfect forms of legw used? Is there any particular
>significance to the use of the imperfect in Luke 23:34? 

	The lexicon is correct in saying that LEGW shows only the present and
imperfect forms in the NT.  But that does not mean that the other tenses are
not represented for this verb.  The other tenses (i.e. aorist, future,
perfect, etc.) are supplied by various forms of EIPON.  So one could not
disqualify the use of the imperfect in the passage you mention simply because
there is no aorist form of LEGW itself.  If the writer had wanted to use the
aorist, he could have written "EIPEN," so we need to look for another reason
for the imperfect.  Philip Graber may be right in saying that the main plot
line is carried by the aorist verbs, and the background events or asides are
often in the imperfect.  This would give us a valid reason for the use of the
imperfect here.  If that were the reason for the imperfect, we might even
want to translate it with a past, rather than imperfect tense; otherwise, it
could be possible that the writer meant to imply that Jesus repeated the
prayer more than once.  

	Luke 23:34a is among those passages that are not supported by the best
manuscript evidence, but are included as part of the Nestle (and UBS) text
because of their antiquity, their dignity and their influence in the history
of the church.

David Moore