Re: hEURISKEI in Acts 10:27 - Present Tense?

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Fri Apr 10 1998 - 13:34:02 EDT writes:

<I would like to try to reformulate your question in very plain
<language in the hopes that I might discover if I am understanding it
<correctly ~ Please bear with me, as if you were explaining this to a
<slightly below average 9 year old student...


Dear George,

Your explanation of hEURISKEI correctly addresses my questions. It is
coherent and logical, and I see nothing in the context definitely
contradicting it, although I do not see why the author should want to
convey to the reader that Peter "found" one member after another in the
crowd. When I teach my students something, usually they believe what I say,
and they have little time left for for personal research. This is a
weakness of the teaching institutions, because the danger is that these
students, when they themselves become teachers, teach their students what
they have been taught and so we have an endless circle of traditions. Greek
is no exception according to Fanning (p 5): "The standard
reference-grammars of NT Greek reflect the state of aspect studies as they
stood in approximately 1920". I therefore think that we time and again
ought to ask radical questions regarding our premises and axioms. (I will
add that I highly appreciate all the competent and knowledgeable teachers
on this list; my complaints relates to the teaching systems and their
inducement to take things for granted.)

You are right when you say that we both have to take the Hebrew and the
Greek mind into consideration, and Clay«s original question led me to ask
whether the Greeks (and Jews) viewed punctiliarity in the same way as we
do. A very good Hebrew example is Deuteronomy 32:10 : "He found (MATSA) him
in a desert". Both subject and object are singular and definite. The time
is past and the Hebrew verb is imperfective. Given that the imperfective
aspect represents "ongoing action" (the traditional definition) or "a
closeup view of a small part of an event" (my definition), it is very
difficult to escape the conclusion that MATSA (to find) in this case is
non-punctiliar, i.e. it has an inner constituency. The only alternative is
a frequentative interpretation, "he" was found several times, but this
seems to be excluded by the context. The LXX has "He sustained him (aorist
of AUTARKEW) in the desert" and this is clearly a durative situation.

ENANTION KURIOU hEOS hESPERAS. We view PIPTW as instantaneous and
punctiliar. The adverbial "until evening" demands that "the fall" lasted
several hours. I see two possible explanations: (1) (not likely) Joshua
fell down and rose up all day, (2) The concept PIPTW consists of an action
(a quick downward movement) and a result (the state of lieing on the
ground. The Germanic mind would view the action and the state as two
distinct events, the Hebrew mind viewed them as one. The LXX is a
translation from Hebrew, and the NT is to som extent dependent upon the
LXX, so what about the Greek mind? I do not suggest that we discard the
concept "punctiliar", and I believe that many Greek verbs deserve this
designation, but we should be much more critical, not taking for granted
that the Greek mind was similar to the English one. Particularly do I think
that the resultative side of telic and semelfactive verbs are very much
neglected in studies of Greek verbs. I view a resuiltative explanation of
hEURISKEI in Acts 10:27 as the most likely one, but I appreciate your clear
comments and would like to hear other explanations as well.


Rolf Furuli
Lecturer in Semitic languages
University of Oslo.

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