Re: An Aorist as future fulfillment

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun May 28 2000 - 20:55:38 EDT

At 10:52 PM +0000 5/28/00, B.J. Williamson wrote:
>Passage: Luke 17:6
>Issue: Future conditional with Aorist in apodosis?

It looks like you're getting this from the Textus receptus, since you're
reading an imperfect form EICETE where NA27 and UBS4 have the present
ECETE. My guess is that the present is probably right and that the
imperfect came into the tradition because the normal present counterfactual
conditional construction calls for imperfect in both protasis and apodosis
but with AN in the apodosis. I think, however, that, since we do have an AN
with ELEGETE, we must understand this as an unreal or counterfactual
condition. Yes, the aorist in the second apodosis hUPHKOUSEN AN is odd
because the aorist would more normally be seen in the apodosis of a PAST
counterfactual condition.

I wouldn't call this a "future" conditional in any case; it is purely
hypothetical and seems predicated on the improbability of those addressed
actually having that sort of faith. You could English it in either of two

(a) If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say . . .
(b) If you were to have faith like a mustard seed, you would say ...

Now what about that aorist? If the protasis were an aorist, then I would
understand our construction as a PAST counterfactual: "If you had (then)
had faith like a mustard seed, you would have said ... and it WOULD HAVE
BUT, given that the protasis is imperfect and the first apodosis is
imperfect, I'd understand the aorist hUPHKOUSEN AN in terms of aorist
aspect: "it would (at once) obey you."

>It seems we have a conditional sentence here,
>expressing a future condition (you may say).
>However, the apodosis contains an Aorist, albeit
>with the particle AN.
>How would one translate this?
>" may say...and it obeyed (past tense??) you."
>Also, is this a first class condition
>with AN in the apodosis? (a particle associated with
>second class conditionals)

Yes, I think we have to classify it as "second class"--unreal or
counterfactual condition. The assumption upon which the statement is
presented is that those addressed do NOT have that sort of faith and the
consequences of having such faith are cited in purely hypothetical terms;
so, very freely:

"Just suppose you really did have faith comparable to a mustard seed; if
that were so, then you could command this sycamore: "Uproot yourself and
get yourself planted in the sea," and the tree would heed your command."

OR: if you want to take the aorist + AN in a fashion that makes the second
apodosis actually a past-counterfactual result, that last clause would
convert into:

" . . . and the tree would have heeded you (already)."

In any case, it does seem to me that the aorist + AN lends extra
pointedness to this saying: "Real faith has consequences that are faster
than a speeding bullet ..."


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

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