Monday, January 22, 2007

Help needed with parsing

Well I know that there are some very clever people out there, so I wonder if you can help poor me with a bit of parsing. I've got a list of ten Greek forms and I wonder if people can parse them and also explain why they parse them as they do. Comments on any special features will be welcome. Please restrict your comments to one form per day.

1. οψησθε Luke 13.28
2. εκχεετε Rev. 16:1
3. παρειχαν Acts 28:2 v.l.
4. δωη Eph. 1:17
5. τετυχεν Hebrews 8:16
6. γινωσκομεν 1 John 5:20
7. φυσιουσθε 1 Cor. 4:6
8. ξυρασθαι 1 Cor. 11:6
9. χρησαι 1 Cor 7:21
10. σκηκετε Mark 11:25


  1. #1 (ὄψησθε) is a subjunctive (2pl, middle) from the future stem of the suppletive verb ὁράω. B/D/f13 have the present subjunctive, and א/Θ have the future indicative (which is unlikely due to the ὅταν preceding the verb which expects a subjunctive).

    Luke, in Acts at least, uses future participles which are more standard in pre-Koine Greek. LXX and NT Greek have a tendency to mix-up the morphologies of the future and aorist aspects/tenses which are in other cases similar or even identical (esp. in 1st aorist verbs, e.g. ποιήσω).

    The subjunctive suggests that the wailing/gnashing of teeth would be "whenever" they see Abraham and the rest in paradise and themselves left out.

  2. παρειχαν Acts 28:2 v.l.

    This is a Hellenistic form of the Attic παρειχoν (aorist indicative active 3p). It was used in non-literary works. I'm doing reseach in this area and so far I have not found it in the first century papyri. It's probably a later scribal alteration to the vernacular of his day (unless I find something I still haven't :)).

  3. So, Christian, would it be meaningful to call #1 an aorist subjunctive, or should we allow the existence of a future subjunctive, or is the sort of parsing that assumes there is a 'right' answer rather difficult here?

    Timo, I am interested by your view that it is an aorist, but why do you see it as an aorist rather than as an imperfect? After all, it is not παρεσχον nor παρεσχαν. You probably have worked a lot on these forms, so I'd be interested to know what your reasoning is.

  4. I'll start with
    Nice example, Pete.
    From context of Lk 13:28, following ἔσται, it is obviously a μέλλων FUTURE,
    and with ὅταν it is obviously ὑποτακτική SUBJUNCTIVE.
    And we don't say there is no future subjunctive.
    After all, I can say in English,
    Let's went! Fuimonos!
    And you understand. comprendes?


    PS: If you insist on standardization, then this is an aorist that has just created, supplemented, a new root for the aorist ἰδεῖν/βλέψαι IDEIN//BLEPSAI.
    But a future subjunctive is obviously what people would feel.

  5. oh my. I meant to write imperfect, not aorist. Silly me. I suppose one should not try to do two things at the same time :)

  6. And I'll add a comment on Eph 1:17 since no one has yet:
    ἵνα . . . δώῃ
    This is a subjunctive, obviously. The δοῦναι forms are quite fluid. E.g., in the NT we have δοῖ, δῷ, δώσῃ, and δώῃ. Now this last form is diacritically edited to be different from δῴη 'may he give' εὐκτική OPTATIVE. But in present context of the letter, an optative indirect speech would not be expected or justified, as it would be in a past tense context.

    Plus, the optatives are fluid at this time, too. E.g. this caught me reading Chariton where we find forms like Ἑρμοκράτης οὐκ ἂν δοίη σοὶ τὴν θυγατέρα 'Hermocrates would not give you his daughter' Optative. Note again, the diferent form. Now isn't the first century a nice century for Greek speakers?

    At least these last forms δοίη [düe] and subjunctives δώῃ [doe] and δῷ [do] would be differentiated in first century speech, while "Pauline" δώῃ and δῴη would have been pronounced the same.

    (τουτ᾽έστιν μου τὸ ὄνομα εἴ μοι θέλοις γράψαι τι ἐν τῇ ἑλληνικῇ.)

  7. And this, Pete, is a great example for your spelling paper (or from your paper?):
    1 Jn 5:20 ἵνα γινώσκομεν in א B A
    is obviously subjunctive (οὖτως!)
    and is being spelled in a sub-standard 1st century spelling.

    I assume that all readers of this blog have made the wise decision to adopt a first century pronunciation in order to pronounce the 7 vowel phonemes of the first century:

    ι=ει, η, ε=αι, α, ω=ο, ου, υ=οι

    Then they will understand 1John5:20 in all manuscript traditions, even the original. (smile)
    Yes, it is very possible that ἵνα γινώσκομεν is the original, being preserved 'against the grain' by those great uncials.

    PS: our summer Koine Scholé will use this pronunciation, 90% of classtime filled with Greek itself. Two teachers in classroom. See

  8. oops, just published a typo

  9. Dear Ἰωάνης,
    I'm shocked that you only use Greek 90% of the time. :-)

  10. Timo, I'm not sure that either answer would be silly. If #3 is imperfect, would it be fair to say that the 'stem' is more significant in determining tense/aspect than the ending? WH also concluded that the form was an imperfect, although they did not have access to the papyri available today. I suppose that one would need to examine all cases of such forms and decide whether they are better explained as aorists or imperfects. Is anyone doing this?

  11. PJW,

    According to my first master's dissertation this future subjunctive is actually evidence of a Greek propensity to relate future-aorist in the same way they did present-imperfect and perfect-pluperfect. In a sense, then, future is aorist or aspectually "undefined". Stephanos, the scholiast to Dionysios Thrax, stated explicitly this relationhip which Thrax infers in his paradigms.

  12. for Christian,

    Yes, the MELLWN future and AORISTOS aorist belong together (when not discussing purpose clauses), just like ENESTWS 'in the midst' and PARATATIKH 'extending' belong together aspectually.

    I haven't read Stefanus, but my reading of Dionysius was that aorist was 'none of the above'. He listed it after the others. aorist would not be 'aspectless', but it did not have the 'extra' definition of the PARATATIKH system (continuative / 'present'="in the midst" ENESTWS) or of the PARAKEIMENOS system (resultative/stative). Calling aorist "aspectually undefined" would miscommunicate what it is, how it functions, and is ignoring a basic linguistic concept that parts of a closed system receive their meaning from themselves AND from differentiation from the other parts. The aorist would be "perfective" in modern linguistic terms and is the most basic aspect for most verbs. Their meaning would not come from the appropriateness of their metalinguistic index-tag (their "name"). E.g. "I eat Houmous" might be called 'present' by somebody, (I call it habitual) but it is not an activity that is happening while I am writing this. "I am writing" is an actual present. Metalanguage tagging does not define use/function.

  13. RB,

    Thanks. The term "undefined", was used above because it was a tag given/used by a Greek speaker. Must "undefined" equal "aspectless"? From what you said, you agree that this is not what Thrax etal. meant. I used the terms perfective and punctual to describe the aorist in my dissertation. My concern here is showing how two historically, aspectually-unrelated tenses came to be aspectually related in the minds of Greek speakers.

    NB, it was the future which I called "undefined", although this relates to the name aoristos, too. The future was aspectually "undefined" as it had no regular foil, but was the descendant of the PIE injunctive on the most basic root of the verb (which could be either aorist or imperfective). Eventually, the future comes to be paired with the simple/perfective aorist tense because the two are so morphologically similar in so many cases.

  14. As far as I know, all the authors I've seen take it as an imperfect. I do not know if someone is analysing the actual occurrences as to its usage. My research is limited to possible Atticistic tendencies.

  15. unless my eyes are crossed and I am an idiot there is no Heb 8:16. (τετυχεν Hebrews 8:16)

  16. i shouldn't have used the term idiot, it was ment to be in jest and written text does not communicate that well.

    at the moment I get perfect active indicative 3rd singular for τετυχεν from "tugxanw." the double τ gives away the perfect tense. This is the most I can do at the moment, i'll have to come back and give more specifics on the perfect and such.