Re: hHKW/hHKASIN in Mk 8:3--pf or pres?

From: Ward Powers (
Date: Sat Oct 18 1997 - 11:27:58 EDT

At 08:29 97/10/15 -0500, Carl Conrad wrote:
>At 7:46 AM -0500 10/15/97, Rod Decker wrote:
>>This is prob. a traditional crux, but should hHKASIN in Mk 8:3 be parsed as
>>a perfect form or a present form? I find it listed as a pf in BDF s.101 and
>>(I assume*) BAGD, 344. But Gramcord/Accordance parses it as a present, as
>>does Mounce (both in his Analytical and in his Morphology) and
>>Brooks/Winbery (Morphology, 136 n. 1--which also lists *BAGD as supporting
>I suppose that what I'm about to say is pretty obvious and probably doesn't
>really answer your question, Rod. Nevertheless: I think that since hHKW is
>normally a present tense with a perfective force ("to have arrived"), and
>since it has a Kappa as a root/stem-consonant, it is here given an
>anomalous 3d pl. perfect-tense termination. So how to parse it? At this
>point, parsing becomes a silly sort of game we play of pigeonholing in
>terms of form rather than in terms of meaning (as when we term HDUNHQHN an
>aorist "passive deponent" 1 sg. indic.). How does one parse OIDA: as a
>present 1st sg. or as a perfect 1st sg.? Isn't this a morphologist's
>nightmare? I can't complain of the fact that the textbook I use to teach
>Classical Attic (JACT _Reading Greek_) teaches OIDA as a present tense,
>just warning the student to memorize its conjugation. Oh, if only we could
>ignore morphology! Greek would be so easy if its verb morphology were not a
>great morass--but that's what it is.

Wow!! After receiving this it has taken me three days to catch my breath
and pick my jaw up off the floor, whence it fell.

Every time I begin to teach a new class of beginning Greek students (which
is at the start of every semester), I praise the Lord for Greek morphology.
It is so nice and neat and regular, especially when compared with English.
A genuine joy to introduce would-be Greek students to it, and to reveal to
them its regularity and patternedness!!

Parsing may be a silly sort of game we play, Carl, but morphologizing a
word enables a student (or a veteran!) to understand the import of a form,
even a new form of an unfamiliar verb. Each verb has nine morph slots, or
positions where meaningful morphs can occur. The meaning of these morphs is
dependent upon identifying which slot they are occurring in. As the nine
sets of morphs can only occur in their stated order without variation (a
regularity for which, as I say, the Lord be praised), it is a simple matter
to teach the student these nine morph slots and what can occur in each, so
that they can identify the details of each form they encounter. Sort of
like parsing only much more helpful, because the morphs are telling them
each bit of relevant information about the form they are looking at.

To take the word you mention: OIDA. First, the A ending shows that this has
got to be a direct flexion perfect form: there is no other kind of verb in
Greek where the first person singular ends in alpha following a dental.
That is, the A is the alpha of the perfective morph KA added directly to
the root ID. (There are just nine Direct Flexion Perfect Active verbs in
the GNT, that is, where the alpha of the perfective morph is added directly
to the root without the normal K as part of the morph.)

The ID is the root, and also the lexal in this form. It is the same root as
in EIDON. This root was originally fID (with digamma), so the perfect stem
would then have been fEfID-. After digamma was dropped from the language,
this left EID; and then the epsilon changed to O in the perfect as happens
in several other Greek verbs (e.g., GEN [root of GINOMAI) becomes GEGONA in

Once you have the perfect form OIDA, it conjugates just like any other
perfect paradigm. No problems.

Oh yes, and it IS necessary to point out to students that the perfect forms
have present meaning and the pluperfect forms have imperfect meaning. Not
really a problem either. I reckon it's easier by far for a student to know
that OIDA is a perfect (and thus they know how to conjugate it), and then
simply tell them the bit about its meaning.

Now, OIDA really is one of the more difficult words to handle
morphologically. This I acknowledge. But, "a morphologist's nightmare"? Not
so, not so. And there are about twenty or so verbs (like this one) which
need special treatment from a morphology point of view, as they are a bit
tricky. But twenty verbs is just 2% of the verbs in the GNT. The other 98%
come out very neatly when looked at morphologically.

Hurray for morphology!!

Oh, yes: about hHKA/hHKASIN? I'll talk about that in another post.

Rev Dr B. Ward Powers Phone (International): 61-2-9799-7501
10 Grosvenor Crescent Phone (Australia): (02) 9799-7501
SUMMER HILL NSW 2130 email:

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