RE: Matthew 23.2: EKAQISAN

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Thu Oct 30 1997 - 07:23:25 EST

Mark Goodacre wrote,


How is the aorist being used here? This question has recently arisen
on the Crosstalk list and I thought I would seek b-greek wisdom on
it. Apparently Davies and Allison say that this is a 'Semitic
stative perfect' -- i.e. it cannot be talking about a completed
action in the past because of the context, 'Therefore do and keep all
that they say to you . . .'

Or is there another way of taking this? Some of the older
commentaries, I note (W. C. Allen, Allan McNeile) take it as 'They
used to sit on the seat of Moses . . .' But this does seem difficult
in context.>>>>>

Dear Mark

Both the Hebrew NT of Delitzsch the NT in modern Hebrew use a participle of
yashab, and both can be translated as "sitting". The root yashab is stative
while KAQIZW may be either fientic or stative. Both a Hebrew perfect and a
Greek aorist often have an ingressive meaning with stative verbs. KAQIZW is
intransitive, and this together with the use of aorist may stress the
entrance into the state. Thus the verse can be translated "The scribes and
the Pharisees have taken their seat in the chair of Moses". Hebrew perfect
and Greek aorist can also include the beginning of and a part of the
continuing state. This could give the translation: "The scribes and
Pharisees sit on the seat of Moses.", but I think the first translation is
to be preferred.

Stative verbs illustrate well that the designation "completed" should
neither be applied to Hebrew perfect nor to Greek aorist, because what is
completED must from some point of view be past. The designation "complete"
is also problematic because an ingressive use of yashab/KAQIZW never is
complete, and a constative use may or may not be complete. My suggestion is
therefore that the perfective aspect be defined as a view from some
distance with the beginning and a great part or all (+ end) of the
event/state included, but the details are not fucussed upon; and the
imperfective aspect as a closeup view of a small part of the event/state
where beginning or end may or may not be included, and the detailed are
clearly seen. So both an ingressive and constative use of KAQIZW would view
the scribes and Pharisees from some distance having given themselves the
same authority as God gave Moses.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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