Re: NUN+Verb.Aorist

From: Paul Zellmer (
Date: Wed Apr 30 1997 - 13:28:56 EDT

Jonathan Robie wrote:
> At 09:57 PM 4/29/97 -0400, Paul Zellmer wrote:
> >I went back and looked again at your posting on "NUN + Indicative Aorist
> >= perfect?" (BTW, I only saw two responses to that, one which said,
> >"Maybe," (mentioning the first two examples only) and the other stating
> >that NUN may be marking an actual condition after describing a
> >contrary-to-fact condition.) As for me, I see a difference in
> >perspective between your five examples and the perfect. I agree that
> >your interpretation is similar to the perfect, but this interpretation
> >comes from examing the entire context. It is not simply derived from
> >the NUN + Ind. Aor.
> In fact, I found these examples because I wanted to see what NUN+Ind.Aor.
> means, and hte only way I could do that was to examine the entire context
> and see if there seemed to be a consistent meaning for this construction. I
> couldn't derive the meaning from NUN+Ind.Aor., because I didn't know what
> this combination might mean. (At the time, I wanted to know whether
> NUN+Ind.Aor. operates differently from NUN+Ind.Imperf.)

And did it?

> >The NUN + Ind. Aor. describes a current or recent
> >activity which is the basis for the contextual "perfect-like" result.
> >(I realize how close my description is to your suggestion, but I would
> >see the "= perfect" as meaning that we would not need the context to
> >complete the aspective interpretation. Instead of a focus on the
> >effects of an action, [IMO, what would be "perfect"], the examples seem
> >to be stating that something which was lacking before has now been
> >fulfilled [which would be the starting point only of the perfect].
> What criteria do you use to determine whether it is the context or the
> NUN+Ind.Aor. construction which conveys the "perfect-like" result? My
> criterion was invariability: if every single known instance conveys this
> meaning, then it seems to be the meaning of the construction itself. The
> nice thing about my criterion is that it is easily falsifiable.

Yes, you did very well in limiting the scope of your hypothesis. This
is much harder to do on something as common as the augment.

> I've already listed all examples of NUN+Ind.Aor. in the GNT. I don't know
> how to do a broader search in Greek literature of the period - the two
> Homerian examples listed by Smyth seemed to fit this pattern as well. But
> you can prove me wrong just by showing me examples of NUN+Ind.Aor. in the NT
> period that don't fit this interpretation.

How about if I show that your English translations, while possible in
the context, is not necessarily the translations of the Greek form
found. IOW, the perfect could have been used, and would have made
sense, but that does not infer that *these* are perfects or
perfect-like. That is the downfall of depending only on
falsifiability. Indirect proofs can *disprove* but they cannot *prove*.

> >Specifically, in Mt 26:65, at first the council had not heard, but NUN

Your English translation (NASU) was, "you have now heard...." This, I
agree, is a perfect-type translation, which implies that the speaker
*could* have said AKHKOATE. However, nothing prevents the translation,
"now you heard...." This seems more in consonance with the use of the
aorist, and, incidentally, does not "sound like" a perfect.

> >In Eph 3:5, the mystery had not been made known before hWS NUN APEKALUFQH.

NASU: "it has now been revealed" I suggest: "now it was revealed"
> >In 1 Pet 1:12, the things had not been announced to you, but NUN ANHGGELH.

NASU: "now have been announced" I suggest: "now announced" [n.b., I
admit I am weak on my 2nd Aorists, but I don't believe that ANHGGELH is
a passive, despite the NASU translation]

> >In John 13:31, before Jesus was not glorified, but NUN EDOXASQH.

NASU: "Now is the Son of Man glorified" This is the example that you
stated did not really fit your hypothesis, and it gives me pause, too,
except for another reason. In the English, I would have problem putting
it into a clear past time statement ("Now was the Son of Man glorified"
doesn't really fit the context). But the difference between your
hypothesis and my responses become most clear by shifting the voice to
the active. Your hypothesis would state, "He has now glorified the Son
of Man," and my suggested translation would be, "He now glorified the
Son of Man."

> >The only one which does not clearly make a contrast with a previous condition is Rom > >11:31, but the condition necessary for the showing of mercy was fulfilled since NUN > >HREIQHSAN.
> >

NASU: "these ... now have been disobedient" I suggest: "these ... now
are disobedient," the stative sense coming from the -EW verb ending.

> >What I find is interesting is that the activity in each of these
> >examples are in consonance with the time aspect of the augment--each of
> >the actions have already occurred. I realize that there are other
> >possible exceptions to this occurrence, but I like it when even
> >secondary points of significance of forms (like the time indication of
> >the augment in Greek verbs) are not overruled by the context. :^>
> I'm trying to get a feel for the distinction between your interpretation and
> mine, which is pretty subtle. According to my interpretation, if you removed
> NUN from each of the above examples and changed the aorists to perfects,
> there would be one change in meaning: it would no longer be clear, apart
> from context, that the activity had taken place in the recent past or
> present. Apart from that, I would see no change in meaning, since the
> NUN+Ind.Aor., like a perfect, focuses attention on the current state, on the
> NUN. According to my interpretation, if you just removed the NUN, retaining
> the aorists, then the focus would be clearly on the past action, not on the
> present state, in spite of the remaining context. In other words, it is the
> NUN which conveys the "perfect-like" meaning - without the NUN, there isn't
> enough context to provide this meaning. Without the NUN, these examples do
> not indicate a new state in contrast to the previous state, but merely
> indicate a past action.
> Does this match your interpretation, or do you see this differently?

I see it differently. I agree with what would happen if we removed the
NUN and left the aorist. However, I do not agree that the change to
perfect would be so minimal from what we have now. NASU made the
decision to use the English perfect form, but I see the NUN+Aorist.Ind
as focussing *only* on the precipitating event, not on its continuing
impact. The NUN is a contrast between a stated or implied contrary
estate--that was then and this is now. It appears that your NUN is,
"this is the current state." A slightly different focus, but I do see a
distinction. (I won't commit hari-kari if you're right and I'm wrong,

Catch you later,


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