Re: Translation Question: Acts 19:14

From: Carlton L. Winbery (
Date: Thu Apr 25 1996 - 10:59:07 EDT

John Barach wrote;
>I'm working on an exegetical paper on Acts 19:11-20, and I've discovered
>something which seems strange. Perhaps it's just my lack of experience with
>Greek. . . .
>Normally, in the sequence of tenses, an aorist participle means that the
>action described in the participle occurs before the action of the main verb.
> In Acts 19:14, however, the aorist participle ("having answered") seems to
>be contemporaneous with the main verb ("he said"). To translated it
>according to the usual sequence of tenses would result in something like
>this: "But after he had answered, the demon said"--which doesn't make sense.
>Is this an exception to the usual rules of tense sequence? I think I've
>noticed it earlier in Acts, as well. Any tips? references to standard
>grammars I've overlooked?
In the syntax book by Brooks and Winbery we state, "Generally the present
participle used circumstantially is translated 'while' and the aorist,
'when,'" but there are many places where the aorist participle cannot
indicate in the context action prior to the action of the main verb. I
don't think that I have found a case where the action of the participle
takes place before the action of the verb (indicated clearly by the
context) when the participle was not in the aorist or perfect. That
doesn't mean there are not any, but I have not found them.

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