Re: FW: Ef hWi and Indicative Tenses in Greek and English

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Jan 07 2000 - 10:13:02 EST

<x-rich>Note: Bill has very wisely snipped items from a 17K off-list reply that
I sent to his last on-list series of questions about our ongoing
dispute over EF' hWi as an adverbial conjunction introducing
subordinate explanatory clauses.

At 8:55 PM -0600 1/6/00, Bill Ross wrote:


>Carl, I've had a lot of trouble with my email. I hope this finally

>through. It keeps saying your email server doesn't exist??


>Anyway, a simple question on your objection to my reading of EF hWi,
that I

>thought might be of interest to the whole list:



>>Yes. hWi in Acts 7:53 is masculine dative sg--dative to construe with

>masculine singular to agree with the antecendent TOPOS. Don't be

>by the fact that hWi may be either masculine or neuter. In Acts 7:53
it is

>masculine; in the phrase EF' hWi which I've been saying means
"because" or

>"since" the hWi is technically neuter because TOUTWi hOTI which it

>represents and abbreviates is neuter.


>Again, you're insisting upon "which" as a relative pronoun but aren't

>pointing to any noun, masculine or neuter, in what precedes that hWi

>refer as to an antecedent.



>...Isn't it common for a neuter relative pronoun to refer back to a

>clause, paragraph, section... with no regard to gender? For example,

>TOUTO need not refer

>to any particular gender, correct? The reason I ask is that this is
how I am

>seeing hWi being used - pointing to a clause such as:



It is indeed common to refer back to a preceding clause, paragraph,
section by using a neuter relative pronoun, particularly hO/ (the
accented rel. pron. as distinguished from the unaccented article,
hO) and hA/ (the accented rel. pron. as distinguished from the n.
pl. article, TA).

BUT it is more common to refer back to a larger textual unit (clause,
paragraph, section) by using a demonstrative neuter pronoun, e.g. DIA
more common than those is it to use the conjunction hO/TI which
originated as an indirect interrogative pronoun, a compound of the
relative pronoun hO/ and the indefinite n. sg. pronoun TI. So
common is this usage of hO/TI in fact that a useful convention
developed (for which I'm not sure whether grammarians or
editors/printers bear the greater responsibility) to distinguish the
form used as a conjunction, hO/TI by writing/printing it as a single
word from the form used as an indefinite relative/interrogative
pronoun, hO/ TI, which was written/printed as two words. I might add
that this usage of what was originally a relative pronoun as a
conjunction introducing a subordinate clause is a common development in
many IE languages (Latin QUOD, German DASS, French QUE, Italian CHE,
English THAT, etc.).

BUT I do NOT believe that EF' hWi when used to introduce a subordinate
clause is EVER used to refer back to a larger textual unit (clause,
paragraph, section); while you may see an instance where the hWi is
masculine sg. relative pronoun referring back to a masculine antecedent
noun (Acts 7:53 hWi with TOPOS) or where a hHi refers back to a
feminine antecedent noun (Luke 11:22 THN PANOPLIAN AIREI EF' hHI
EPEPOIQEI ...), I do not believe a clear instance will be found wherein
the neuter relative pronoun object of EPI refers back to a textual unit
larger than a concrete noun.




>I don't understand what you mean by "understand the TRANSLATION of

>aorist;" are you trying to tell me that the aorist here is not
referring to


>time? My own reason for preferring to translate the aorist here as

>sinned" is to underscore the totality of the acts of human sinning. I

>no idea in the world what you mean to imply about the difference from

>have sinned" that "all sinned" implies for understanding how the
aorist is

>used here.



>Though many allow for the addition of the word "have" for the aorist,

>prefer to reserve that for the perfect. In this situation, where the

>question being answered is whether men sinned "at some point in time"

>(allowing for each

>individually) or "upon Adam's sinning" (in the past and impacting the

>present) it seems unreasonable to relax the distinction between aorist


I still don't understand the distinction you mean to draw here between
"they all sinned" and "they have all sinned" for PANTES hHMARTON in
you grant that hHMARTON does refer to the sinning of all humanity in
time past, I am content.

But this does raise another matter of the difference between English
and Greek tense usage that I think is worth clarifying, although it
doesn't bear that directly on the question originally in dispute in the
present exchange (and that's why I've added to the subject-header). I
would contend that the Greek aorist form hHMARTON may legitimately be
translated either as "they sinned" or "they have sinned." If so, does
that mean there's no real distinction between hHMARTON and hHMARTHKASI?
My own view (and I've expressed it previously in this forum) is that in
actual practice this distinction between aorist and perfect to express
perfective past action has largely disappeared--and that is one reason
why the perfect tense is relatively rare, namely: the aorist has
usurped one of the chief functions of the perfect tense. On the other
hand, I think the perfect tense hHMARTHKASI retains a distinct function
when it underscores the present ongoing consequence of the action
referred to; thus hHMARTHKASI may be translated into English as "they
have sinned" (as could also, I think hHMARTON) but hHMARTHKASI bears
the additional implication: their sin--and their consequent
guilt--remains in effect even now. My point, to reiterate it by stating
it differently, is that there is an ambiguity in the English perfect
tense form "they have sinned" just as there is in the Latin perfect
PECCAVERUNT and in the Greek aorist hHMARTON in that each of these
forms may represent the simple fact of past action and also the
completeness of the past action. But there's a distinct sense in which
these perfect tenses express resultant present state--and this sense is
not so often uppermost in view as it is in Latin VIXERUNT = "Their life
is over with--they're dead" or Vergil's FUIT ILIUM = "Troy has had its
existence and is no more." I think that this distinct stative sense
tends to be preserved in the Koine Greek perfect tense when it is
actually used, but that (apart from forms like hESTHKA and OIDA which
are understood and used as present tense even though their morphology
is perfect-tense) the perfect tense survives the other common sense of
the perfect tense--completion of action in the past--is regularly
expressed in the aorist indicative. I don't really think I'm saying
anything new here but that I'm simply calling attention to a fact about
Koine usage of the perfect and aorist tenses that is already pretty
well attested in the grammars. Wallace, for instance seems to me to be
right on target regarding this function of the aorist (I don't have the
page ## as I'm drawing on the AcCordance software version):


<color><param>0000,7777,0000</param>"III. Consummative (Culminative,
Ecbatic, Effective) Aorist

        "A. Definition

        "The aorist is often used to stress the cessation of an act or state.
Certain verbs, by their lexical nature, virtually require this usage.11
For example, "he died" is usually not going to be an ingressive idea.
The context also assists in this usage at times; it may imply that an
act was already in progress and the aorist then brings the action to a
conclusion. This is different from a consummative perfect, for the
latter places the stress on (a) completion of the action, not merely
cessation;12 and especially (b) continuing results after the completion
of the action."


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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