What is the difference between these infinitives?

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What is the difference between these infinitives?

Post by hmederos22 »

I do not know yet what infinitive I have to use since in any grammar book both aorist infinitives and perfect infinitives are said to be translated as have plus past participle. Wherewith, it makes me get confused. For instance: λῦσαι to have loosen and λέλυκέναι to have loosen. What is the difference in sense? Because I do not manage to understand it at all.
Robert Emil Berge
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Re: What is the difference between these infinitives?

Post by Robert Emil Berge »

The difference has to do with aspect. To put it simply (and therefore a bit inaccurately) the aorist infinitive is used to describe the actual happening of the action, while the perfect is used to describe the effect of it. How to translate this depends on the context. Often it is difficult to express the difference accurately in English. So, to say it a bit differently, when the matter is about what is happening at a point in time, the aorist is used, but when it is about the state something is in after the action taking place, then the perfect is used.
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Re: What is the difference between these infinitives?

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon »

hmederos22 wrote:λῦσαι to have loosen[ed] and λέλυκέναι to have loosen[ed].
λῦσαι does not mean 'to have loosened' – it means 'to loosen'. The temporal element of the present and aorist (past) do not prevail in the oblique voices ('oblique voices' is my own coinage, for non-indicative verbal moods, by analogy to the term 'oblique cases' for non-indicative noun cases). In all voices but the indicative, the difference among present, aorist and perfect has to do with aspect rather than time. The perfect infinitive (rare in the NT) pretty much retains the same aspect as the perfect indicative. The difference between present and aorist carries different nuances in different examples, which a good grammar will cover.
Jonathan Robie
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Re: What is the difference between these infinitives?

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Here's Micheal Palmer's explanation:
Infinitives and Aspect

Greek infinitives could have either a present or aorist form. The contrast between the two forms had nothing to do with time. It is a difference of aspect.

The Present Infinitive

The present infinitive was used to express progressive or imperfective aspect. It pictures the action expressed by the verb as being in progress. Compare the following examples.

μετέβη ἐκεῖθεν τοῦ διδάσκειν καὶ κηρύσσειν ἐν ταῖς πόλεσιν αύτῶν
He went from there to teach and proclaim in their cities (Matthew 11:1)

The use of τοῦ in Matthew 11:1 is explained below under "Substantival Infinitives."

Here the author uses the present infinitive for the two highlighted verbs to present the teaching and proclaiming as an ongoing ministry rather than an isolated event.

The present infinitive also appears n Mark 8:34. Here again, it suggests progressive or imperfective aspect.

εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἀκολουθεῖν
If anyone wants to follow after me

Jesus is not talking about following him to the store, here. He is talking about taking up a lifestyle of following his teachings and example. The end point of this "following" is not in focus.

The present infinitive is very often used in combination with the aorist indicative of ἄρχω (ἤρξατο = he/she began) to present an action as beginning in the present and extending into the future with no focus on when it will end. Observe the following example from Mark 6:34:

καὶ ἤρχατο διδάσκειν αὐτοὺς πολλά
and he began to teach them many things

Here the focus is on the beginning of the action, but the end is left unspecified.

The Aorist Infinitive

The aorist infinitive does not express progressive aspect. It presents the action expressed by the verb as a completed unit with a beginning and end.

Ἡρῴδης θέλει σε ἀποκτεῖναι
Herod wants to kill you (Luke 13:31)
Here the aorist infinitive is appropriate because the author is not saying Herod wanted to go on an indefinite killing spree, but that he wanted to commit one specific act of killing.

ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ σου δεῖ με μεῖναι
It is necessary for me to stay in your house (Luke 19:5)

In this statement, Jesus is presented as stating his desire to spend the night at Zacchaeus' house, not a request to take up residence there for an indefinite time.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
Stephen Hughes
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Re: What is the difference between these infinitives?

Post by Stephen Hughes »

English structures its meaning different from Greek. Greek uses the tenses of the verb - its morphology - when English uses a different word. Consider a few examples:
Hebrews 8:1-5 wrote:Κεφάλαιον δὲ ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις, τοιοῦτον ἔχομεν ἀρχιερέα, ὃς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θρόνου τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς,τῶν ῾Αγίων λειτουργὸς καὶ τῆς σκηνῆς τῆς ἀληθινῆς, ἣν ἔπηξεν ὁ Κύριος, καὶ οὐκ ἄνθρωπος. πᾶς γὰρ ἀρχιερεὺς εἰς τὸ προσφέρειν δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίας καθίσταται· ὅθεν ἀναγκαῖον ἔχειν τι καὶ τοῦτον ὃ προσενέγκῃ. εἰ μὲν γὰρ ἦν ἐπὶ γῆς, οὐδ᾽ ἂν ἦν ἱερεύς, ὄντων τῶν ἱερέων τῶν προσφερόντων κατὰ τὸν νόμον τὰ δῶρα, οἵτινες ὑποδείγματι καὶ σκιᾷ λατρεύουσι τῶν ἐπουρανίων, καθὼς κεχρημάτισται Μωϋσῆς μέλλων ἐπιτελεῖν τὴν σκηνήν· ὅρα γάρ φησι, ποιήσεις πάντα κατὰ τὸν τύπον τὸν δειχθέντα σοι ἐν τῷ ὄρει·
The details following the γάρ in those 2 intervening sentences is parenthetical, so can be skipped for the purpose of making this point. The use of the perfect in the phrase καθὼς κεχρημάτισται Μωϋσῆς gives the sense of "as Moses was (fully) aware (of this) because it had been revealed to him (by God)." In contrast to that, in Hebrews 11:7, the revelation to Noah comes as one of a few steps within a story;
Hebrews 11:7 wrote:Πίστει χρηματισθεὶς Νῶε περὶ τῶν μηδέπω βλεπομένων, εὐλαβηθεὶς κατεσκεύασεν κιβωτὸν εἰς σωτηρίαν τοῦ οἴκου αὐτοῦ·
The point of this is not to explain what Noah knew, but to explain what Πίστει "by faith" meant to him - he got a revelation that was contrary to his senses, he was a pious man, so he built the ark.

English might structure its meaning as "he was warned" - "he was aware of the situation", using two different words, but Greek uses the same word with different tenses to structure its meaning as χρηματισθεὶς (aorist) - κεχρημάτισται (perfect).

The tension between these two systems of with their different ways of constructing meaning becomes quite marked in a number of verbs; οἶδα is the perfect of a verb "to see", and means "to know", ie once you see, then you know. κτάομαι means "to acquire", while the perfect κεκτῆσθαι means "to possess". In many cases an overly grammatical understanding of Greek is possible in English, such as your "having loosened", but English often prefers other verbs , such as "take off shoes" - "be barefoot", rather than a cumbersome "having taken off their shoes". (ὑπολύω). So too with "tying". In Matthew 21:2, καὶ εὐθέως εὑρήσετε ὄνον δεδεμένην, the δεδεμένην could be rendered as "having been tied (onto something)", but perhaps English would be more comfortable changing the verb - "a tethered colt" might work.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)
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Re: What is the difference between these infinitives?

Post by hmederos22 »

Thanks everyone for having repplied so fastly. I have absolutely understood the difference amongst these three tenses, thanks to your fantastic explanations!
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