From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Oct 28 1997 - 09:43:54 EST

At 7:04 AM -0600 10/28/97, Paul F. Evans wrote:
>I am not sure I caught the finer nuances in what you said here.
>>Although an
>> aorist ptc. doesn't ALWAYS refer to time prior to that of the main verb, it
>> generally does. You may note also that the participles in the following
>> section are in the present tense. Consequently I'd understand this as
>> "After getting on the road, get disciples made, all the time baptizing and
>> instructing them." Sorry I can't reduce this to intelligible rules.
>You indicated that there is a time element involved here, meaning that the
>action of the verb is preceeded by that of the participle. However, in an
>earlier post you also mentioned that the participle has imperatival force,
>"Go..." which almost seems to make the action contemporaneous to the
>finite verb. This has always been a little difficult for me to visualize
>(unfortunately I am one of the people handicapped by having to think in
>pictures!). The two posts seem to take different approaches, so that you
>later post doesn't seem to incorporate the imperatival force mentioned
>My question, I guess, is whether, as Jonathan seems to point out, the
>imperatival force comes from the participle's association with the finite
>verb and somehow carries over to it? If so the idea of conveying
>imperatival force and time in English is a little difficult. Maybe it
>means something like, "Go, and having gone make...."

Well, that's the way I understand it, although I don't think any great
interval should be seen between POREUQHNAI and MAQHTEUSAI--but I do think
that the phrasing suggests the importance of getting out there on that road
and then doing something when you get there. I've also always been
fascinated by Mt's distinctly Jewish Christian way of putting that
imperative: not "convert the world" but "bring the world to the Rabbi's
feet for instruction."

>This is much ado about nothing I am sure, but as I said I am sort of
>trying to get the notion of what is means more firmly fixed in my

I don't know that it's really "much ado about nothing," actually. The
principle I was stating was simply an observation about differences between
English and Greek characteristic ways of relating a sequence of verbal
actions. English, I believe, characteristically strings parallel verb forms
together, such as "Come, take a look, and tell us what you think"--a string
of three imperatives, whereas it seems to me that Greek more commonly would
express the same sequence with two aorist participles and one imperative:
happens over and over in narrative sequence also; English tends to
coordinate verbs as parallel, while Greek tends to subordinate verbs
indicating what is done previously to aorist participles, e.g. "And they
came and saw that the stone had been rolled away, they were astounded" =
suppose that Luke is more likely to write like that than are the other
evangelists, but it is such a standard sequence in classical Attic prose
and continues on in good writers of Greek (I won't disguise my bias here)
in Hellenistic Greek that I urge my intermediate Greek students to make use
of this trick when they have to convert Greek narrative into English.

>Later Thomas Bond wrote:
>>The manner of this "getting disciples made" would be "at all times
>>baptizing and >instructing them."
>In first coming to this passage after my early days fresh from beginning
>Greek, I had interpreted the present tense participles as instrumental,
>that is, the means by which disciples are made. Is there any warrant for
>that? I have no idea where that notion came from, but it it seemed
>logical at the time. I simply wonder if there is any grammatical
>foundation for it. If there is not, is this simply contemporaneous action
>in the sense that they are to make disciples, while baptising and teaching?

No, I don't really think so. I think that they are procedures that
necessarily complement the "making of disciples"--or to put it in the
language of an older generation: give them the KHRUGMA, and once they've
got that, baptize them and give them the DIDACH. I hasten to add, however,
that I don't really think you can very easily push these adverbial
participles into pigeonholes: that's the wonderful flexibility of
participles and also what forces us to ponder the context in order to
figure out exactly how they're being used this time. After all that
adverbial participle may, under different circumstances, represent a
temporal, a conditional, a causal, an instrumental or perhaps several other
possible relationships to the main verb.

This is, to be sure, an interesting and fruitful verse for exploration.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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