Re: Hebrews 2:13 ESOMAI PEPOIQWS (correction)

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Aug 20 1998 - 14:26:46 EDT

At 7:41 AM -0500 8/20/98, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> ... In either case the meaning will be pretty much the same because the the
>(First) perfect PEPOIQA is a stative (like OIDA and many another First
>Perfect--i.e. perfects of the older sort without a Kappa stem) with an
>intransitive sense best translated as a present tense: "I am fully
>confident." Accordingly ESOMAI PEPOIQWS is more or less equivalent to an
>intransitive PISTEUSW.

PEPOIQA is, of course, SECOND Perfect, rather than FIRST Perfect. This is a
blunder that I've never been able quite to work out of my system. In
traditional grammatical parlance we speak of First Aorist (-SA type) and
Second Aorist (thematic and athematic types), of First Perfect (-KA type)
and Second Perfect (with non-kappa stems),and of First Passive (-QH- type)
and Second Passive (with non-theta stems). In each instance the so-called
"Second" type is the older one and the "First" type younger in terms of
linguistic history. I suppose the justification for the traditional
classification is that "First" is meant to designate the larger group and
"Second" the archaic or 'irregular' group. What has always irritated me
about this is my thinking that "First" OUGHT to refer to the historically
earlier form, but it doesn't.

A similar miscue (IMHO) is involved in designation of the so-called
"Primary" and "Secondary" endings of verbs. Historically speaking, the
"secondary" endings (-M, -S, -(T), -MEN, -TE, -N(T) are actually the basic
or 'unmarked' endings, while the "primary" endings (-MI, -SI, -TI, -MEN,
-TE, -NTI) are modifications created by adding -I- to the basic set.

Occasionally I feel the need to express a degree of outrage at the baggage
that we who teach Greek professionally are required to carry over from
bygone eras of pedagogy. It's not really that people taught "the
old-fashioned way" aren't perfectly capable of reading Greek well--it's
just that the descriptive terminology we've grown up with is in many cases
woefully inappropriate.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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