Re: kappa aorists

From: Ward Powers (
Date: Sat Oct 18 1997 - 10:34:46 EDT

Fellow b-greekers:

Jim West and Carl Conrad have been chatting about kappa aorists.

The normal morph which indicates "aorist" in a verb is SA (the alpha elides
before a following vowel), or when the aorist morph is added to a liquid
(as in, say, SURW), the sigma of this morph slides off, just leaving the
alpha as the aorist morph (so its aorist is ESURA). The aorist morph occurs
in Slot 7 of a verb's nine morph slots.

There are however three verbs in NT Greek which are kappa aorists - that
is, in these verbs the aorist morph is KA instead of the standard SA. Thus
we are talking here of aorist FORMS, not of aorist MEANINGS. This KA is
simply an allomorphic variant of SA, and these verbs conjugate their aorist
exactly like a verb with SA aorist morph.

These three verbs are DIDWMI (aorist EDWKA), hIHMI (aorist hHKA), and
TIQHMI (aorist EQHKA).

There is also a fourth, bodgy, "improper", kappa aorist: the suppletive
aorist of FERW. Originally this was a second aorist HNEGKON, but in the NT
(though the second aorist is encountered) it has usually been given first
aorist endings, and thus appears as HNEGKA, and conjugates as first
conjugation. This transition from second aorist to the much more common
first aorist paradigm is assisted by the fact that the third singular form
HNEGKEN is identical for both first and second aorist paradigms.

So we end up with what for all practical purposes looks like another kappa
aorist. But actually the kappa is part of the root. This root was
originally ENEK, which speedily reduced to EGK, the nu becoming enga (nasal
gamma) in front of the palatal phoneme kappa (this is a standard
assimilation). In the aorist and perfect, this verb is one of a small group
of verbs which reduplicate their first syllable, like AGW in the aorist and
the root ELQ in the perfect. Then add the temporal augment for the
indicative, and we have HNEGKON and HNEGKA.

The question was raised about hHKW (present) and the apparently perfect
form hHKASIN in Mark 8:3. BAGD comment on hHKW, "Since it has the meaning
of a perfect, its conjugation sometimes has perfect forms," and they cite
examples outside the NT as well as Mark 8:3. Thus the perfect forms could
originate from its present forms, with "form following meaning".
Alternatively, hHKA could be the older perfect form, defective in the
present, and thus the present hHKW a later "back formation" from the
perfect, to fill the gap - just as STHKW, a present form used in the NT, is
a "back formation" from hESTHKA, the perfect of hISTHMI.

Both the present and perfect forms of hHKW mean "have come".

In any case, hHKW is not a kappa aorist - its aorist is hHXA.

Please tell me - is anyone out there interested in this kind of info?


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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