Re: Mt 28:19a, attendant circumstantial partic.

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Thu Oct 30 1997 - 13:55:51 EST

Paul F. Evans wrote:

<<<In this case, MAQHTEUSATE, BAPTIZONTES, and DIDASKONTES express the mission
in a threefold sense. The mission is to make disciples, baptize and to
teach. What if anything is the effect of the present tense of the
participles, other than linking their action as contemporaneous to that of
the finite verb? In other words is there anything inherently durative
about the action expressed by the participles that is not expressed in the
aorist verb (a suggestion made by someone on the list earlier)? Or are we
to understand the action of the particples in light of the tense of the
main verb, since the present simply links the participles to the verb in a
particular way but says nothing about whether the action is durative or
punctiliar? If these are attendant circumstance participles, exactly what
does that mean? That the action of the participles supports the main verb
(close to instrumental), or that the action of the participles is simply
connected with the verb but "independent" of it in all practical senses.>>>>>

There is one side of the clauses which deserve more attention when we try
to understand participles/imperatives and finite verbs, and that is the
singularity/plurality and definiteness/indefiniteness of the subjects
and/or objects (and of course of they are count nouns or not). The nature
of the subject/object compared with the Aktionsart of the verb may indeed
throw light on the meaning.
Look at the following clauses; the verbs of (1) have durative Aktionsart
and the verb phrases of (2) are punctiliar. Past tense is used in (1) and
past continuous in (2).

(1a) She filled the bottle
(1b) She filled the bottles
(1c) She filled bottles
(1d) They filled the bottle
(1e) They filled the bottles
(1f) They filled bottles
(2a) She was reaching the top
(2b) She was reaching the tops
(2c) They were reaching the top
(2d) They were reaching the tops
(2e) They were reaching tops

Because of the indefiniteness of the objects of (1c) and (1f) the end of
the action is not seen, as is the case in (1a), (1b), (1d) and (1e). The
examples of (2) illustrate how singularity/plurality may cause a durative
or frequentative interpretation. If the continuing action expressed by the
participle in punctiliar verbs is centered in the "verb", the
interpretation is durative; if it is centered in the subject or object the
interpretation may be frequentative. With durative verbs a frequentative
interpretation is more dependent upon the context. (2a) can only mean that
she was on the point of reaching the top. (2b), (2d) and (2e) can only be
frequentative and (2c) may either be frequentative, one after another
reached the top, or it can mean that the group was on the point of reaching
the top. The indefinite object of (2e) makes the end invisible.

The examples may illuminate your question about what is inherrent in the
verb. Both MAQHTEUW and DIDASKW have durative Aktionsart and this may also
be the case with BAPTIZW. I agree with Carl that the force of the aorist
imperative is "this is what you are to achieve". The action of MAQETEUW is
durative but the grammatical form combines a command with the focus on the
beginning of and a great part of the action. But what about the present
participles,( or let us just discuss DIDASKW), if the Aktionsart is
durative what is gained by making the verb a participle? Both the subject
and the object are plural, and this means that the "extra durativity"
introduced by making a durative verb a participle simply can be accounted
for by the plurality of the arguments (subject/ object).
(This can be illustrated by heat which is movement. When we make a
refrigerator colder we do not destroy the heat but causes it to go from the
refrigerator to another body which becomes warmer.Thus bodies may exchange
heat.) So while Carl`s frequentative interpretation is a good alternative
and John`s interpretation is possible, the present participles need not (
and this is because of the pluarility of their arguments) mean more than
just durative action. Thus a translation by English participles will convey
the thought.

What is written above is of course just an opinion; what I would like to
stress is however, that durativity and punctiliarity are characteristics of
the Aktionsart of the verbs and not of their aspects.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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