Date: Fri May 28 1999 - 12:27:22 EDT
Date: Fri, 28 May 1999 12:25:56 EDT
Subject: Re: AORIST VS PRESENT INFINITIVE
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In a message dated 5/26/99 9:24:23 PM Mountain Daylight Time,
> In Greek Class last night a question was raised about the tense of the
> imperative FEUGE in Matthew 2:13 and POREUOU in Matthew 2:19.
> In each case the context is an angel giving an instruction to Joseph in a
> dream as to what he is to do next, in identical language: "Get up and take
> the lad and his mother and" [flee to Egypt/travel to the land of Israel].
> Now here is the question: a specific and decisive act is called for in
> response to the imperative: "flee", "travel"; why then the present tense
> for the infinitives? Should we not rather have expected the aorist here?
> Even if the idea were taken to be inceptive, "start fleeing", "start
> travelling", we could have had here an inceptive aorist. So, what is the
> significance of the Gospel writer's choice of a present imperative in each
> Yes, I replied, I too would have expected an aorist.
> And I thought, What would the members of b-greek say to this question? Is
> there a point to the use of the present imperative that is eluding me?
In both cases, the use of the present imperative in 2:13 and 2:20 involves
relative prominence or emphasis which contrasts with the commands in the
aorist. The main point in 2:13 is to flee (FEUGE), and the main point in 2:20
is to go (POREUOU). The aorist commands to get up (EGERQEIS) and take
(PARALABE) the child are secondary and supportive to the main points to
'flee' and 'go'.
PhD Student, Roehampton
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