Re: English perfect, Greek perfect

From: Mary L B Pendergraft (
Date: Thu Jun 04 1998 - 10:47:24 EDT

At 08:49 AM 6/4/98 -0400, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>I am trying to get a more precise understanding of the Greek perfect by
>comparing and contrasting the Greek perfect and the English perfect. The
>Greek perfect "denotes a completed action the effects of which still
>continue in the present" (Smyth, p.484). This seems to be true of the
>English perfect as well, and it seems that many Greek perfects can be
>translated with English perfects.
        (and much more)

What follows is not the result of a close & rigorous study of the Greek
perfect, so my remarks are quite general and open to amendment and

Much of the time, the Grk perfect is slightly more meaningful than the
English perfect, so that we could wish for a hyphenated translation: to
take the Mark 6:14 ex., "John arose-and-is-still-arisen"--whereas your
hypothetical aorists are just "he arose." Or Luke 5:20, "Your sins

And the caveat applies here as well, that any verb will have its own
peculiar nuances. My paradigmatic ex. is APOQNHSKW "I die"
         APEQANON "I died"
        TEQNHKA "I'm dead"
where the perfect particularly stresses the present result.

Your examples seem to me right on target, esp. the formulaic GEGRAPTAI "it


Mary Pendergraft
Associate Professor of Classical Languages
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem NC 27109-7343
336-758-5331 (NOTE: this is a new number)

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