Re: Imperfect participles, future participles...

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Apr 03 1997 - 22:46:39 EST

At 8:11 PM -0600 4/3/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>There doesn't seem to be any such thing as an imperfect participle in the
>GNT. Is there any such thing elsewhere in Greek literature?

No, nor is there for the pluperfect, but there is one for the future
perfect which is rare indeed. Strictly speaking, even in the older
grammatical descriptions, one does not speak of tense so much as aspect in
participles. One might speak of periphrastic imperfects (such as the
accounts of John the Baptist: HN BAPTIZWN as imperfect in sense, but these
are nonetheless present participles.

>Also, what is the force of the future participle in this verse:
>Smyth says: "2044 The future participle marks an action as in prospect at
>the time denoted by the leading verb." So does this mean that if Elijah
>comes, he would come with saving Jesus in mind? "If Elijah comes, intending
>to save him"?

In classical Attic a common idiomatic usage of the future participle is
with hWS to indicate purpose, particularly in conjunction with a primary
verb of motion.
It is an alternative to a hINA + subjunctive purpose clause or to the Koine
equivalent constructions of hWSTE + infinitive or EIS/PROS + articular
infinitive or TOU + infinitive. I would interpret the SWSWN above as a
future participle to express purpose without the hWS introductory particle
that is normal in classical Attic: "Let's see whether Elijah will come to
save him."

>Is that any different from hOI DE LOIPOI ELEGON: AFES IDWMEN EI ERCETAI

No, because you've put no conjunction before the clause beginning with
SWSEI. I really think it is meant to express purpose as in the classical

Or what is the force of the future participle in the
>Does this mean "he had come in order that he might worship"? - at the time
>he came, he had worship as a prospect?

Not as a prospect but as a purpose. This is identical in construction with
the previous one, and in fact accompanies the same verb (ERCOMAI): "who had
come to Jerusalem to worship (i.e. in order to worship)."

The older classical Attic would have used this kind of future participle to
indicate the subject's intention--what he had in mind--but it would have
used a hWS if it was explicitly to indicate the purpose of coming. I think
that the Koine of the NT has preserved the construction but dropped the
older obligatory hWS.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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