RE: Attendant Circumstance Participles/Antecedent Action construction

From: Joe A. Friberg (
Date: Sun Aug 08 1999 - 18:03:12 EDT

Kevin Smith [on Saturday, August 07, 1999 7:06 AM] wrote concerning the
Wallace's specifications for "attendant circumstance participles." I do not
have Wallace to reference his description of the semantic interpretation of
the configuration so labeled, but I do recognize the essential validity of
the construction he has identified, which I first discovered from a study of
Mt 28.19.

To reiterate Wallace's criteria, they are:
>(a) the pt should be aorist,
>(b) the main verb should be aorist,
>(c) the mood of the verb should be indicative or imperative,
>(d) the pt should precede the main vb, and
>(e) it should occur in narrative literature. (see p. 642)

I agree with Kevin Smith and Daniel L Christiansen [Saturday, August 07,
1999 2:49 PM] that not all these critera are relevant.

First, though, the terminology is confusing. What Wallace calls an
"attendant circumstance participle" is not the same construction that
Carlton Winbery [Saturday, August 07, 1999 3:12 PM] calls by the same name
(Jn 19.17: BASTAZWN is *present*, and he states the particple usually
follows the main verb). Nor is the *meaning* the same.

The only Grammar I have found (my survey on this topic has not included
Wallace) that makes the distinction between these two constructions is
Greenlee's _A Concise Exegetical Grammar of NT Gk_, where he identifies the
following two different adverbial constructions/functions of participles
(pp. 57-58):

"9) Attendant circumstance. Normally follows the leading verb in word
order; normally is present tense. Describes a circumstance as merely
accompanying the leading verb, with the sense of 'and in addition, this,'
and semantically in the same mood as the leading verb.... [Note: this is
Carlton Winberry's usage/example]

"10) Coordinate circumstance. Normally precedes the leading verb in word
order; normally aorist tense. Describes an action coordinate with, prior
to, and of the same mood semantically as the leading verb, although often
not equal in importance with the leading verb. It gives new information.
Its action does not qualify the action of the leading verb. It may be
translated by the same tense and mood as the leading verb and connected with
it by 'and'. It occurs with any mood: e.g.,
Indicative--Jn. 12:36, APELQWN EKRUBH, he departed and hid himself.
APEOQANHi, unless the grain of whet falls into the ground and dies.
Imperative--Ac. 16:9, DIABAS EIS MAKEDONIAN BOHQHSON hHMIN, Come over into
Macedonia and help us.
Infinitive--Lk. 11:7, OU DUNAMAI ANASTAS DOUNAI SOI, I am not able to arise
and give to you."

Note that this second category (#10) essentially matches Wallace's criteria,
but under a different name. The differences in specifications between
Wallace and Greenlee is that Greenlee omits (b), counters (c), and omits
(e). Daniel L Christiansen [Saturday, August 07, 1999 2:49 PM] pointed out
that Wallace is speaking by way of statistical inference at this point, not
of grammatical rule, so these differences between Greenlee and Wallace are
merely descriptive and not prescriptive in nature. [Note further, the
"narrative" criterion (e) is itself contrary to the "imperative" option of
criterion (c) :( .]

Now, for this little noted and largely overlooked construction (Aorist Ptc
preceding main verb), called Attendant circumstance by Wallace and
Coordinate circumstance by Greenlee, I offer an alternative designation:
*Antecedent (Preparatory) Action*. In each case, the action of the
participle precedes the action of the main verb, and is generally prepartory
to the main action. It is *not* merely a circumstance, but an integral part
of the sequence, but temporally and logically antecedent. Hence, the Ptc
semantically takes on the same mood and tense as the main verb. The
sequence may also be described semantically as step-Goal (ptc->V),
emphasizing the telic function and logical prominence of the main V.

The Antecedent Action construction contrasts with a Present Ptc (before or
after the verb) construction that can function as a true, simultaneous,
circumstance (Greenlee's Attendant circumstance).

Greenlee is correct in stating that a proper English translation of the
Antecedent Action participle is a coordinate construction 'V and V', where
both verbs are in the same mood and tense. This Engl. construction
functions much the same as the Antecedent Action participle construction in
Gk. In Gk, however, the prominence of the Goal (main V) is clearly marked,
while in Engl. it must be inferred.

Thus Mt 28.19 POREUQENTES OUN MAQHTEUSATE should be rendered "go and
disciple": going is required prior to discipling, and does not provide some
mere circumstantial context in which discipling is to take place (NOT "as
you go, disciple," which I have heard preached from this passage on
several/numerous occasions).

Kevin Smith's example from Heb 6.1 [Saturday, August 07, 1999 7:06 AM] is an
excellent specimen of the Antecedent Action, and an illustration, as he
noted, that Wallace's criteria (b), (c), and (e), are not requirements to
delineate this category and obtain the relevant semantic significance.

To say it differently, my conclusions align with Greenlee's minimal criteria
(Aorist Ptc preceding main verb) as the necessary and sufficient
specifications for the Antecedent Action construction.

God Bless!

Joe A. Friberg
Arlington, Texas

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