Re: Why an instantaneous imperfect in Mark 8:24?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Jun 27 1999 - 08:42:01 EDT

I've followed this correspondence and have meant to say something about it
but haven't gotten around to it until this morning (Sunday). There are a
couple strange things about it and I didn't (still don't) feel altogether
comfortable with the text and the way it's being understood. Rather than
comment on aspects of the discussion between Jay Adkins, Daniel
Christainsen and Moon Ryul hitherto, I'm going to start fresh with the text
and suggest my hunches regarding some of the questions that have been


(1) I'm rather uncomfortable with the term, "instantaneous imperfect" for
ELEGEN here. Of course I know that an aorist participle coordinated with a
verb NEED not indicate time prior to that of the finite verb, I believe it
usually does so, particularly in narrative. In this particular instance I
certainly don't think that the participle ANABLEYAS turns ELEGEN into the
equivalent of EIPEN. Rather I'd convey the sense of the two words as, "And
upon looking up, he went-on-and-said/proceeded-to-say ..."

(2) I agree with Moon that PERIPATOUNTAS must surely be predicative here
"I'm seeing (them) like trees walking."

(3) Of the questions raised in this verse, the most interesting to me is
that of the nature of this particular hOTI; it's certainly not the
ubiquitous indicator of directly-cited speech equivalent to our <"> nor it
is really "causal"--we wouldn't want to convey it by a "because."

Daniel (if I've understood aright what he is saying) has suggested that
this is not the conjunction but the relative pronoun. I think, however,
that editors are generally pretty careful to distinguish the relative
pronoun from hOSTIS from the conjunction by writing it as two words (hO TI)
rather than as hOTI, analogous to the German differentiation of DAS from
DASS. I think that "THAT" in English must be one of the most troubling of
all English words for aliens to grasp its varied usage, because we DON'T
differentiate the usages by spelling.

I personally think that our hOTI in Mk 8:24 comes closer to the Latin usage
of QUOD in the sense, "the fact being that ..." That is actually, I think,
how hOTI and QUOD in the first instance come to be used to introduce a noun
clause that qualifies another clause. The particular Latin usage of QUOD
that this seems closest to, in my view, is as "but ..." --and I'd convey
the whole verse into English thus: "And upon looking up he proceeded to
say, "I do see people, but in fact I'm seeing them walking (as indistinctly
as if they were) trees." My impression, from the exchange cited below, is
that Daniel himself is not far from this view of the matter.

I'll add here once again my determination to make the concurrent idiomatic
features of Koine Greek and Latin a topic of major investigation when I
retire. I am certainly convinced that Latin influences Koine following upon
the Roman occupation of the eastern Mediterranean, and that the influence,
if not as clearly evident in the GNT as that of Hebrew and Aramaic, is
nevertheless very significant. Of course the influence of Koine on Latin
must also be strong, but I think it works both ways (I never cease to
admire the title of Moses Hadas' great book on the mutual cultural impact
of Hellenism and Judaism: "Hellenistic Culture: Fusion and Diffusion.").
There's a lot more to it than the way the Latin perfect tense seems to
contribute to the Koine fusion of the aorist and perfect morphology and

At 10:35 PM -0700 6/26/99, Daniel L Christiansen wrote:
>Moon-Ryul Jung wrote [snipped]:
>> Are there other instances where hOTI is used as the relative pronoun
>>"that (which)"?
>Daniel replies:
> Of course, there are many instances of hOSTIS being used as the
>relative "that/who
>which"; however, we are dealing with the question of the specific form
>hOTI. I must admit
>that there are very few candidates I am aware of in the NT literature.
>Those which I
>would consider as possibly having this force would be the following: Rev
>13:4; Matt 12:42;
>17:15; Luke 9:49; 11:31; John 5:18; 9:16; 9:17; 1Cor 2:14; 2Cor 8:16-17;
>1John 3:9. Of
>course, I must admit that such a rendering of those passages is only a
>causal force is the usual translation. In fact, I have been surprised at
>the lack of
>clear uses. The Mark 8:24 passage seems clearest, to my mind.
>> I would take the hOTI clause as a sort of noun clause, which defines
>>what the person is
>> seeing. So I would have:
>> I see men that I perceive [them] walking like trees.
> Yes, I would agree: the "defining" or limiting activity is precisely
>what the relative
>pronoun does. You have used the English "that," while I used "which"; in
>either case, we
>have a relative pronoun governing the clause.
>> Here I take the particiciple as predicative not as attributive, following
>> Carl's well argued thesis.
> I agree, here. My translation in the first response to Jay Adkins was
>a bit "off the
>cuff." I was at that point attempting more to capture the tenor of the
>dialogue, than the
>exact syntax. Of course, the use of the participle was not being
>discussed, yet. Perhaps
>more along the following line: "Looking up, he was saying 'I am seeing
>men, which I
>perceive walking [but] like trees.'"

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

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