Re: Hebrews 13:23

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Oct 31 1999 - 11:28:41 EST

At 8:39 AM -0600 10/31/99, Dmitriy Reznik wrote:
>Dear friends,
>I wonder why in Hebrews 13:23 MEQ hOU EAN TACION ERCHTAI OPSOMAI hUMAS
>(with whom, if he may come more shortly, I will see you)the verb ERCOMAI is
>used in present and not in aorist.

In my opinion this is a fair instance of what Dale Wheeler was arguing a
couple weeks ago: that the present tense may be a "default" tense when one
is not concerned to sharpen the focus more definitely on the kind of action
envisioned by the "tense" chosen.

You should note, of course, that ERCHTAI must in any case refer to the
future and is coordinated in time with the OYOMAI of the result clause in
this instance--it's what I learned originally to call a "future more vivid
condition" but what half a dozen NT Greek Grammarians seem to have half a
dozen names for. Of course what name you call it doesn't alter its
essential meaning as a conditional statement.

In more traditional terms (I suspect that Dale really IS more right than
wrong--which is what I would like to have said of myself, if I get accused
of being right or wrong), one might argue that ERCHTAI does indicate
process ("he is on his way") and that it is used with a rather idiomatic
TACION, the comparative adverb of TACU, which in this instance might be
conveyed as "at a relatively fast clip" (as compared with the plodding
progress of more conventional travelers). Hence, a "hyper-literal" (i.e.,
not-at-all-literal) version might be: "And I'll see you in his company, if
in fact he's travelling with all deliberate speed."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

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