Date: Fri May 28 1999 - 15:37:34 EDT
First, it should be noted that my response reflected two corrections to the
original query one of which had already been corrected in earlier posts:
FEUGE (Mt. 2:13) and POREUOU (Mt. 2:20) are both present imperatives, not
infinitives. And the second is that POREUOU is in v. 20, not v. 19.
My explanation wasn't based on semantics, but on linguistic principles
applied to Greek that are often referred to as "markedness" or prominence.
But how nice it is that the semantic implications do seem to play out in the
I'm going to try to keep this short and simple.
First, after using two imperatives in the same tense, a variation of tense in
a third parallel command draws attention to the change.
Second, when the aorist is used together in parallel with the present, the
present is more emphatic because of the relative aspect of the tenses (aorist
is undifferentiated action while the present is imperfective) and because the
aorist is the default tense (more common).
So, my reasons are related to aspect, but are more closely tied in with how
verbal opposition creates emphasis or prominence. And I assume that phrases,
words, etc, that are relatively more prominent than their context generally
reflect "the point".
PhD Student, Roehampton
In a message dated 5/28/99 1:03:32 PM Mountain Daylight Time,
> Ward [writes]
> > Now here is the question: a specific and decisive act is called for in
> > response to the imperative: "flee", "travel"; why then the present
> > for the infinitives? Should we not rather have expected the aorist
> > Is there a point to the use of the present imperative that is eluding
> >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'.<
> Cindy and Ward ~
> I thought that this was a great question, and a tantalizing response. My
> question to Cindy is: "Why secondary and supportive?"
> Is it because he must first 'get up' to be fleeing, hence the fleeing is
> primary and getting up supports that action? And if so, then how is
> the child secondary and supportive of travelling? It would seem that the
> reverse would hold, where taking the child is primary, and travelling
> supports the purpose of taking the child.
> Perhaps the present imperatives could be thought of as the purposes of the
> aorist imperatives. ['Get up ... be fleeing!' 'Take the child ... be
> travelling.'] The literary construction parallels this aor-pres
> sequence, as the first imperatives [2:13] establish the sense of urgency,
> and the second [2:20] show the purpose of that urgency.
> Likewise, the purpose of taking the child is to be travelling [with it].
> The sequential imperatives give this a marvelous sense of high drama and
> urgency that an aorist-imperative ~ present-infinitive construction would
> not seem to have.
> Thanks to you both...
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