From: Jeffrey Gibson (
Date: Mon Nov 04 1996 - 14:11:44 EST

On Sun, 3 Nov 1996, Carlton Winbery wrote:

> Jeffrey Gibson wrote;
> >(This is a modified version of a querry I sent two weeks ago, and to which
> >I have had no response. Perhaps it did not reach the list - at least I
> >hope that is why I have had no answers).
> >
> >I am writing to inquire how one might distinguish when a given pre-
> >3rd cent. C.E. author is using PEIRAZW as opposed to PEIRAW. There are
> >times when the forms of these verbs overlap. How then can we tell in
> >these instances which verb the author is employing?
> >
> >I would be grateful for any help in this matter.
> >
> LSJ makes the point that PEIRAZW was used by early authors only in the
> present and imperfect. The other tenses for this verb were supplied by the
> forms of PEIRAW. Seemingly LSJ considers that there was no real difference
> in meaning between the two verb forms. When one compares the two words in
> LSJ, that appears to be the case, so what difference would it make if you
> could distinguish the forms of the tenses other than the present and
> imperfect?
> Carlton L. Winbery
> Fogleman Professor of Religion
> Louisiana College
> Fax (318) 442-4996
> Phone (318) 487-7241
I am aware that early writers used the forms of PEIRAW to supply the
tenses for the future, aorist, etc. of PEIRAZW. But this does not seem to
be the case in later Hellenistic writers who tend to use either
PEIRAW or PEIRAZW but not both, especially when they want to convey the
idea of "proving" or "putting a person or thing to the test". Certainly
this is the case with New Testament writers, and it is most noticable in
the fact that when speaking of Jesus' "testings" the Gospel authors (and
the author of Hebrews), following perhaps the usage of the LXX in
translating Hebrew words for "testing", limit themselves to
(EK)PEIRAZW. Does this not imply that, what ever might have been the case
with earlier authors (Homer being one), PEIRAZW and PEIRAW
were eventually seen as having slightly different shades of meaning?
   What I am trying to do is to draw up a list of all instances of
PEIRAZW in pre-3rd Cent C.E. Greek Literature, so that the semantic range(s)
that the verb possessed at any given period of its use can be
laid bare. Now since the trend of later authors was to use one verb but
not the other (for stylistic reasons, because of
regional usage?), and since some of these authors, when speaking of a
trial or testing, do so only when the context demands a tense in which the
form of PEIRAZW and PEIRAW overlap, it is difficult to know which of the
two verbs is actually being employed, and therefore difficult to know
whether one should instance a particular passage as a use of the former
or the latter.
     So this is why I seek some critera for determining which verb is
actually being used.
     If I am off base in this, I will be grateful to be corrected.

Jeffrey Gibson

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