Re: More on Participles . . .

From: Ward Powers (
Date: Fri Oct 31 1997 - 04:07:02 EST

At 15:03 97/10/29 -0500, Rod Decker wrote:

>Here is a draft of some prelim. work on this question in Mark; I've
>included both aor. and pres. adv. ptcps.:
>There are 541 participles in Mark (248 present, 253 aorist, and 40
>perfect). The following section examines the temporal use of the participle
>in three selected chapters: Mark 2, 6, and 15. In these three chapters, the
>adverbial participle is evaluated for relative temporal reference in
>relation to the main verb and in relation to the word order of participle
>and verb. This provides a test corpus of 55 aorist and 22 present forms.
>Of the 55 adverbial aorist participles in the sample sections, 47 (85.5%)
>express antecedent time and 8 (14.5%) refer to simultaneous time. No
>instances of subsequent reference were observed. In both groups word order
>alone was not an adequate criteria as both antecedent and simultaneous
>reference was found with participles occurring both before and after the
>main verb. There was a clear pattern in both instances, however. With
>antecedent action the participle occured before the main verb in 45 of the
>47 instances. Simultaneous action likewise favors the sequence: participle
>> verb (7 or the 8 instances). At least in the sample passages, aorist
>verbs clearly tend to occur before the main verb.
>Aorist Participles in Mark 3, 6, 15
>Before the verb
> Antecedent
> 2:1, 4, 5, 8, 12, 14, 16, 17
> 6:2, 5, 12, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22a, b, 24, 25, 27b,
> 29, 34, 35a, b, 36, 37b, 38, 41a, 46, 48, 53, 54
> 15:1a, b, 8, 35, 36a, b, c, 37, 39, 43a, 44, 45, 46a, b
> Simultaneous
> 6:26, 27a, 37a, 41; 15:2, 12, 43b
>After the verb
> Antecedent
> 15:15, 17
> Simultaneous
> 15:30

Rod and b-greekers:

I would invite a closer look at the 8 instances where aorist adverbial
participles are classified as refering to simultaneous time with the main

Three of these (Mk 6:37a, 15:2 and 15:12) are "answering he said", with
APOKRIQEIS plus a verb of speaking. It is indeed true that the answering
and speaking are simultaneous. Indeed, the verb APOKRINOMAI means "respond"
more than "answer": it is used to indicate that what follows is by way of
response to something that has been said or done (note, not just something
said); when followed by a verb of speaking (which it usually is) it
indicates that the form that the response took was to say something. So the
thought is, "he responded by saying [something]". This is an idiom with a
particular verb, and this idiom may be independent of general "rules" or
practices in Greek. The same thing will apply to occasions where the
participle is itself a verb of speaking (none occur in the sections under
consideration, but I believe I can recollect having encountered quite a few
of these in the GNT).

ENEGKAI THN KEFALHN AUTOU: "and immediately sending, the king an
executioner ordered to bring his head". The participle is "sent", the main
verb is "ordered". Certainly the "sending" is not prior to the "ordering".
But are they simultaneous? Or is the order of events that, first, the king
gave orders, and that then, second, the king sent the executioner to carry
out those orders, viz., to bring his head? That is, that the sending refers
to the bringing, "sending him to bring": to which it is prior.

Then I am even more uncertain about the simultaneity of the other examples
cited of aorist participles before the main verb.

AUTHN: "and becoming greatly distressed, the king ... did not wish to
refuse her." I have no trouble in seeing this as (a) the king became
greatly distressed (at the situation in which he now found himelf, because
of the stupid oath he had made in front of the guests), and then (b, and
subsequently in time) he reached the decision that he did not wish to
refuse her.

Mk 6:41, KAI LABWN (the five loaves and the two fishes) ANABLEYAS (into the
heaven) EULOGHSEN ... I myself would regard this as two aorist participles
indicating the sequence of events leading up to the main verb: first he
took (or received) the loaves and fishes, then he looked up into heaven,
and then, thirdly, he gave thanks.

translates, "he summoned up courage and went in". His summoning up courage
PRECEDED his going in.

Three of these seven examples are of the special idiom which uses
APOKRIQEIS, and I would contend that it is not possible to use this idiom
to establish a general case about aorist participles as such (i.e., of
other verbs) being able to be simultaneous with the main verb. In one
instance (6:27a) the participle ("sending") is followed by TWO verbs,
"order" and "bring", in which the ordering is followed by the sending,
which is to accomplish the bringing. It is possible to take the view that
the participle is prior in time to the bringing, which it precedes.

In the other three instances I do not see that we have to take these as
examples of a situation where the action of the participle is simultaneous
with that of the main verb with which it is associated. I have no trouble
seeing the action of the participle as being prior to that of the main verb.

Then there is the one example of the participle coming after the main verb
and being simultaneous with it. This is Mk 15:30, SWSON SEAUTON KATABAS,
"save yourself, coming down (from the cross)". Here indisputably the saving
of oneself would be simultaneous with the coming down. Indeed, the actual
thought flow is "Save yourself BY coming down from the cross." This is not
quite what I ordinarily have in mind when I think of the action of a
participle being simultaneous with the main verb: I think of two (separate)
things which are happening at the same time. But this is, rather,
Accomplish the action of the main verb by doing the action of the
participle. Somehow, it feels different from what we were looking for.

I am not denying that there can be aorist participles which refer to action
simultaneous with the main verb. But so far, I am not convinced to concede
the point by the participles in the selected chapters.

Don, thank you for bringing us this preliminary work. I look forward to
considering more examples when you share them with us, as I seek to clarify
my own thinking in this area.



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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