Re: Aorist + NUN = past (was Voice and Morphology...)

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Tue Oct 28 1997 - 21:33:00 EST

At 02:22 PM 10/28/97 -0500, Rod Decker wrote:

>Evidence for the Use of NU'N in Reference to Past Time
>More controversial is the use of NU'N in reference to past time. Several of
>the lexicons and grammars note this use, most suggesting that it may refer
>to time just past (i.e., immediate past). Although Porter seems to avoid
>such a category, the evidence from the Gospels points to the fact that this
>is a valid use of NU'N, despite its infrequency (only three examples have
>been noted).

My claim, following from Mari Olsen's theory, is that NUN+Aorist is roughly
equivalent to a perfect, portraying the current state resulting from a past
condition. NUN+Imperfect portrays an event in the recent past.

>An aorist form is modified by NU'N in Matthew 26:65-66 NU'N HJKOUVSATE
>(Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, "He blasphemes! Why do we
>still have need of [more] witnesses? Look, *you have just heard* the
>blasphemy. What do you think?" And they answered, "He is worthy of death").

This is NUN+Aorist. In my view: "Look, you have now heard" is the correct

>The second example occurs with an imperfect form and is a disputed passage:
>John 11:8, NU'N EJZHVTOUN (The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews
>*were just now seeking* to stone you, and you are going there again?!").

This is NUN+Imperfect. In my view, "were just now seeking to stone you" is a
great translation.

>A third example, and one that is quite clear, is John 21:10, W|N
>EJPIAVSATE NU'N (Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have
>just caught).

Again, I would prefer "which you have (now) caught" - I think the viewpoint
is the current condition resulting from a past action. Your translation
hedges a bit between a view to the past and a view to the present. If the
view were purely of the past, the translation "that you just caught" would
be better (but I do not think this is the right translation).
>to refer to the immediate past can be found as
>far back as Homer. In the Iliad, Alexander refers to having been recently
>defeated in battle by Menelaus.
>Don't fault my heart, woman, with hard words.
>This time Menelaus won with Athene's help,
>but I'll defeat him another time. The gods are on our side too.

Again, I would prefer "has now won", referring to the present state
resulting from a past action.

>A similar use of NU'N can be seen in Xenophon's Cyropaedia.
>And I have good reasons for asking; for just now when you rode on into
>danger without us, you filled us with apprehension lest something should
>happen to you and make us very much ashamed because we were not at your
>side. But if we get the horses, we shall follow you next time.
>Here NU'N is used with an imperfect (EJKINDUNEUVETE > KINDUNEUVW) and
>clearly refers to a recent military encounter. "Just now" is a valid
>translation in this context.

You scared me for a second there! I didn't realize at first that this was an
imperfect. Yes, Imperfect+NUN should mean "just now".


Jonathan Robie

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