periphrastic imperfects in Luke

From: Brian E. Wilson (
Date: Thu May 29 1997 - 18:18:33 EDT

>Mark Goodacre wrote: - snip - I would like to return briefly to the
>discussion of a week or so about the HN DIDASKWN in Luke. Over the
>bank-holiday weekend I have been reading the latest volume by the
>Griesbach crowd - Alan McNicol et al, *Beyond the Q Impasse: Luke's Use
>of Matthew* (Valley Forge: TPI, 1996). They repeatedly mention HN
>DIDASKWN as a characteristic of Luke ... has anyone else drawn
>attention to periphrastic imperfects as a characteristic of Luke?

Periphrastic imperfects are a characteristic of the Gospel of Mark as
well as the Gospel of Luke. This was noted in 1952 by Vincent Taylor in
his commentary on Mark. On page 45, Taylor notes that there are 16
instances in Mark, and 28 in Luke, of HN followed by the present
participle. Bearing in mind that Mark comprises about 11,267 words and
Luke about 19,482 words, the ratio of these periphrastic imperfects to
total number of words is therefore 0.00142 in Mark, and 0.00143 in Luke.
In other words, the relative frequency is the same in Mark as in Luke.

In any case, the relative frequency of a construction, or word, or
phrase, in a book is not necessarily an indication of the style of its
author if he used documentary source material. Luke certainly did. The
construction EGENETO followed by a finite verb occurs 22 times in the
gospel of Luke, and fewer than 6 times in Matthew, and Mark. It has
often been suggested that this construction must be characteristic of
the style of the writer of the gospel of Luke. It is not difficult to
show that the construction was not supplied by Luke himself, however. It
is a methodological blunder to assume that the style of a book is
necessarily the style of its author.

Brian E. Wilson
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