Re: Dead White Greek Males

From: Phillip J. Long (
Date: Mon Nov 02 1998 - 15:01:23 EST

On Sun, 01 Nov 1998 10:39:00 -0800, you wrote:

>The reference to Timothy's father in Acts 16:4 has the imperfect form
>hUPHRXEN which has been pointed out by F.F. Bruce (Acts NICNT 1st ed.) to
>indicate that Timothy's father was dead at the time when this scene took
>place. R. J. Knowling in the Exp. Greek Testament cites Blass as holding this
>same view.

Acts 16:3? I. H. Marshall says nearly the same thing; simply that the
"tense of the verb favors" his father being dead. David Williams (NIV
Commentary) also has nearly the same phrase.

>What evidence is their to support this? Is there a regular pattern showing the
>form hUPHRXEN being used of people who have died? Or is this idea based only
>on the supposed semantic opposition between the present and imperfect tense?

Roberston refers to this on page 1029, under the heading "change of
tense in Indirect Discourse." He is noting that after a secondary
tense, an indirect discourse can shift tenses, although that is not
always the case. In this case, the pluperfect of OIDA is used as the
"main" verb, the imperfect hUPHRXEN follows in the OTI clase. Bruce's
point is that if he was still alive, he would have pushed the tense
all the way to a present. Since he shifted to an imperfect, then it
may mean that the man was dead.

Robertson is quick to point out, however, that this does not
necessarily mean that he was dead. If you think about it, it is
pretty hard to express current existence in this phrase, "they knew
his father was / is a Greek." Seems like the imperfect could be
used even if the man was still alive.

>I wonder about this. Could both Bruce and Blass be wrong?

Perish the thought. They might be, though!

Phillip J. Long
Asst. Prof. Bible & Greek
Grace Bible College

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