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THE AORIST PARTICIPLE.

132. The general statement made under 118, that the tenses of the participle do not in general in themselves denote time, applies also to the Aorist Participle. It is very important for the right interpretation of the Aorist Participle that it be borne in mind that the proper and leading function of the tense is not to express time, but to mark the fact that the action of the verb is conceived of indefinitely, as a simple event. The assumption that the Aorist Participle properly denotes past time, from the point of view either of the speaker or of the principal verb, leads to constant misinterpretation of the form. The action denoted by the Aorist Participle may be past, present, or future with Reference to the speaker, and antecedent to, coincident with, or subsequent to, the action of the principal verb. The Aorist Participle, like the participles of the other tenses, may be most simply thought of as a noun or adjective, the designation of one who performs the action denoted by the verb, and like any other noun or adjective timeless. The distinction of the Aorist Participle is not that it expresses a different time-relation from that expressed by the Present or Perfect, but that it conceives of the action denoted by it, not as in progress (Present), nor as an existing result (Perfect), but as a simple fact. Such an adjective or noun will not ordinarily be used if contemporaneousness with the action of the principal verb is distinctly in mind, since contemporaneousness suggests action in progress, and action in progress is expressed, not by the Aorist, but by the Present tense. Nor will it be used when the mind distinctly contemplates the existence of the result of the action, it being the function, not of the Aorist, but of the Perfect, to express existing result. Nor, again, will the Aorist noun be used if the writer desires distinctly to indicate that the doer of the action will perform it in time subsequent to that of the principal verb, the Aorist being incapable in itself of suggesting subsequence or futurity.  But, when these cases have been excluded, there remains a considerable variety of relations to which the Aorist is applicable, the common mark of them all being that the action denoted by the participle is thought of simply as an event.  Among these various relations the case of action antecedent to that of the principal verb furnishes the largest number of instances. It is thus, numerically considered, the leading use of the Aorist Participle, and this fact has even to some extent reacted on the meaning of the tense, so that there is associated with the tense as a secondary, acquired, and wholly subordinate characteristic a certain suggestion of antecedence.  Yet this use is no more than the other uses a primary function of the tense, nor did it ever displace the others, or force them into a position of subordination or abnormality. The instances in which the action denoted by the participle is not antecedent to the action of the principal verb are as normal as that in which it is so, and were evidently so recognized alike in classical and in New Testament Greek. The Aorist Participle of Antecedent Action does not denote antecedence; it is used of antecedent action, where antecedence is implied, not by the Aorist tense as a tense of past time, but in some other way. The same principle holds respecting all the uses of this tense. The following section (133) is accordingly a definition of the constant function of the Aorist Participle, while 134, 139, and 142 enumerate the classes of events with reference to which it may be used.

REM. Compare the following statements of modern grammarians:

“Since the participle, like the other non-augmented forms of the aorist, has nothing whatever to do with the denotation of past time, and since time previous to a point in past time is not the less a kind of past time, we do not here understand at once how the participle became used in this sense. But the enigma is solved when we examine the nature of the aorist and participle. The latter, an adjective in origin, fixes one action in relation to another. The action which is denoted by the finite verb is the principal one. When the secondary action continues side by side with the principal action, it must stand [paratatikw/j] in the participle of the present; if, again, referred to the future, the proper sign of the future is needed; and similariy, the perfect participle serves to express an action regarded as complete in reference to the principal action. If, however, it is intended to denote the secondary action without any reference to continuousness and completion and futurity, but merely as a point or moment, the aorist participle alone remains for this purpose. We indeed, by a sort of necessity, regard a point which is fixed in reference to another action as prior to it, but, strictly speaking, this notion of priority in past time is not signified by the aorist participle.” — Curtius, Elucidations of the Student’s Greek Grammar, pp. 216 f.

“An und für sich bezeichnet das aoristische Particip ebenso wenig als irgend eine andere aoristische Form ausser dem Indicativ, der in seinem Augment em deutliches Merkmal der Vergangenheit hat, etwas Vergangenes. Das Particip des kürzesten und von uns genauer betrachteten Aorists, dessen Stamm eben nur die Verbalgrundform selbst ist, ist also nur Particip an und für sich, das heisst es bezeichnet eine Handlung, mit der noch kein Satz als abgeschlossen gedacht werden soll; im Uebrigen liegt sein Characteristisches für uns nur darin, dass es als aoristisches Particip nicht wie das präsentische Particip auch die Bedeutung der Dauer in sich enthilit, sondern etwas bezeichnet, bei dem die Zeitdauer, die es in Anspruch genommen, nicht welter in Frage kommen, oder das überhaupt nur als ganz kurze Zeit dauernd bezeichnet werden soll.” — Leo Meyer, Griechische Aoriste, pp. 124, 125.

“In sätzen wie evpeidh. ei=pen, avph|,ei; eivpw.n tau/ta avph/|ei; eva.n ti fa,gwsin, avnasth,sontai (Xen. An. IV. 5, 8) erschien die syntaktisch untergeordnete aoristische Handlung gegenüber dem anderen Vorgang darum ads vergangen, weil die beiden Handlungen sachlich verschieden waren. Das Bedeutungsmoment der ungeteilten Vollständigkeit und Abgeschlossenheit der Handlung hess die Vorstellung, dass die Haupthandlung in den Verlauf der Nebenhandlung hineinfalle und neben ihr hergehe (Gleichzeitigkeit), niclit zu. Die Vorstellung der Vergangenheit in Bezug auf das Hauptverbum war also nicht durch die Aoristform an sich, sondern durch die besondere Natur der beiden Verbalbegriffe, die zu einander in Beziehung gesetzt wurden, gegeben. Man erkennt diesen Sachverhalt am besten durch Vergleichung mit Sätzen wie E 98, kai. ba,lv evpai<ssonta tucw.n kata. dexio.n w=mon, Hero. 5, 24, eu= evpoi,hsaj avpiko,menoj , Xen. An. I. 3, 17, bouloi,mhn dV a'n a;kontoj avpiw.n Ku,rou laqei/n auvto.n avpelqw,n, Thuk. 6, 4, e;tesi de. evggu,tata ovktw. kai. e`kato.n meta. th.n sfete,ran oi;kisin Gelw|/oi VAkra,ganta w|;kisan, th.n me.n po,lin avpo. tou/ vAkra,gontoj potamou/ ovnoma,santej, oivkista.j de. poih,santej vAristo,noun kai. Pusti,lon, no,mima de. ta. Gelw|,wn do,ntej, wo die Vorstehlung einer Zeitverschiedenheit darum nicht entstehen konnte, weil es sich um ein und denselben Vorgang handelte und das Partizip oder die Partizipien nur eine, beziehungsweise mehrere besondere Seiten der Handlung des regierenden Verbums zum Ausdruck brachten.” —Br. 161.

133. The Aorist Participle is used of an action conceived of as a simple event.  It may be used with reference to an action or event in its entirety (indefinite), or with reference to the inception of a state (inceptive), or with reference to the accomplishment of an attempt (resultative). When indefinite it may be used of momentary or extended actions or of a series of events. Cf. 35, and 39, and see examples below.

134. The Aorist Participle of Antecedent Action.  The Aorist Participle is most frequently used of an action antecedent in time to the action of the principal verb.

Matt. 4:2; kai. nhsteu,saj h`me,raj tessera,konta kai. nu,ktaj tessera,konta( u[steron evpei,nasen, and having fasted forty days and forty nights, he afterward hungered.

Mark 1:31; h;geiren auvth.n krath,saj th/j ceiro,j, and taking her by the hand he raised her up.

John 5:13; o` de. ivaqei.j ouvk h;|dei ti,j evstin, but he that had been healed wist not who it was.

Acts 14:19; kai. pei,santej tou.j o;clouj kai. liqa,santej to.n Pau/lon e;suron e;xw th/j po,lewj, and having persuaded the multitudes they stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city.

Acts 27:13; do,xantej th/j proqe,sewj kekrathke,nai( a;rantej a=sson parele,gonto th.n Krh,thn, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor, and sailed along Crete.

Rom. 5:1;  dikaiwqe,ntej ou=n evk pi,stewj eivrh,nhn e;comen pro.j to.n qeo.n, having therefore been justified by faith, let us have peace with God.

1 Cor. 1:4; euvcaristw/ tw/| qew/| . . . evpi. th/| ca,riti tou/ qeou/ th/| doqei,sh| u`mi/n, I thank God . . . for the grace of God which was given you.

Col. 1:3, 4;  euvcaristou/men tw/| qew/| . . . avkou,santej th.n pi,stin u`mw/n, we give thanks to God . . . having heard of your faith.

2 Tim. 4:11; Ma/rkon avnalabw.n a;ge meta. seautou/, take Mark and bring him with thee.

135. The Aorist Participle of Antecedent Action is frequently used attributively as the equivalent of a relative clause; in this case it usually has the article, and its position is determined by the same considerations which govern the position of any other noun or adjective in similar construction. See John 5:13; 1 Cor. 1:4, above.

136. It is still more frequently used adverbially and is equivalent to an adverbial clause or coordinate verb with and; in this case the article does not occur, and the participle usually precedes the verb, but sometimes follows it. See Rom. 5:1; and Col.1:3, 4 (134).

137. In some instances of the Aorist Participle of Antecedent Action, it is the inception of the action only which precedes the action of the principal verb. And this occurs not only in verbs of state (cf. 35, and see Mark 5:33; Acts 23:1), but also in verbs of action, which in the Indicative are not inceptive. Acts 27:13 (134); 13:27; 2 Tim. 4:10.

138. The Aorist Participle of Antecedent Action is by no means always best translated into English by the so-called Perfect Participle. The English Present Participle is very frequently placed before a verb to express an antecedent action, and that, too, without implying that the action is thought of as in progress. It is accordingly in many cases the best translation of an Aorist Participle. See Mark 1:31 (134); also Mark 5:36; Acts 13:16, R.V. Frequently also the Aorist Participle of the Greek is best reproduced in English by a finite verb with and. See Acts 14:19; 27:13; 2 Tim. 4:11 (134); also Luke 2l:1; Acts 2l:1; Acts 10:23, R.V.

139. The Aorist Participle of Identical Action. The Aorist Participle agreeing with the subject of a verb not infrequently denotes the same action that is expressed by the verb. HA. 856, b; G. 1290; G.MT. 150.

Matt. 27:4;  h[marton paradou.j ai-ma di,kaion, I sinned in that I betrayed innocent blood.

Acts 10:33; su, te kalw/j evpoi,hsaj parageno,menoj, and thou hast well done that thou hast come. See also Matt. 19:27 (and the numerous instances of the phrase avpokriqei.j ei=pen); Acts 27:3; 1 Cor. 15:18; Eph.1:9; Heb.7:27; Gen.43:5.

140. The verb and the participle of identical action, though denoting the same action, usually describe it from a different point of view. Respecting this difference in point of view, see 121.

141. An Aorist Participle of Identical Action most frequently accompanies an Aorist verb, both verb and participle thus describing the action indefinitely as a simple event. It occurs also with the Future, with which as an aoristic tense it is entirely appropriate (Luke 9:25; 3 John 6), with the Present and Imperfect (Mark 8:29; Acts 7:26), and with the Perfect (Acts 13:33; 1 Sam. 12:19).

142. The Aorist Participle used attributively as the equivalent of a relative clause sometimes refers to an action subsequent to that of the principal verb, though antecedent to the time of the speaker. Instances occur both in classical Greek (see G.MT. 152; Carter and Humphreys in Cl. Rev. Feb. 1891) and in the New Testament.

Acts 1:16; h]n proei/pen to. pneu/ma to. a[gion dia. sto,matoj Daui.d peri. VIou,da tou/ genome,nou o`dhgou/ toi/j sullabou/sin VIhsou/n, which the Holy Spirit spake before by the mouth of David concerning Judas who became guide to them that took Jesus. See also Matt. 10:4; 11:21; John 11:2; Col. 1:8.
143. It should be clearly observed that the participle in these cases does not by its tense denote either antecedence to the time of speaking or subsequence to that of the principal verb. The participle is properly timeless, and the time-relations are learned from the context or outside sources.

144. Whether the Aorist Participle used adverbially, as the equivalent of an adverbial or coordinate clause, ever refers to an action subsequent to that of the principal verb is more difficult to determine. No certain instance has been observed in classical Greek, though several possible ones occur. See Dem. XIX. (F.L.) 255 (423) cited by Carter, and Thuc. II. 49. 2, cited by Humphreys, in Cl. Rev. Feb. 1891. See also Hom. Il. E. 369; N. 35, and Pindar, Pyth. IV. 189.

145. The New Testament furnishes one almost indubitable instance of an Aorist Participle so used if we accept the best attested text.

Acts 25:13, VAgri,ppaj o` basileu.j kai. Berni,kh kath,nthsan eivj Kaisa,reian avspasa,menoi to.n Fh/ston, Agrippa the King and Bernice arrived at Cæsarea and saluted Festus.
The doubt concerning the text rests not on the insufficiency of the documentary evidence, but on the rarity of this use of the participle. Cf. Hort in WH. II. App. p. 100. “The authority for -a,menoi is absolutely overwhelming, and as a matter of transmission -o,menoi can only be a correction. Yet it is difficult to remain satisfied that there is no prior corruption of some kind.” With this case should also be compared Acts 16:23; 22:24; 23:35; 24:23, where the participle, which is without the article and follows the verb, is most naturally interpreted as referring to an action subsequent in thought and fact to that of the verb which it follows, and equivalent to kai. with a coordinate verb. These instances are perhaps due to Aramaic influence. See Ka. § 76. d; and cf. Dan. 2:26, 27; 3:13, 24, 26, 27, etc.

In Rom. 4:19, kai. mh. avsqenh,saj th/| pi,stei kateno,hsen to. e`autou/ sw/ma Îh;dhÐ nenekrwme,non, the participle  avsqenh,saj, though preceding the verb, is naturally interpreted as referring to a (conceived) result of the action denoted by kateno,hsen. It is in that case an inceptive Aorist Participle denoting a subsequent action. Its position is doubtless due to the emphasis laid upon it. In Heb. 9:12 the symmetry of the figure is best preserved if eu`ra,menoj is thought of as referring to an action subsequent to that of eivsh/lqen. But it is possible that eivsh/lqen is used to describe the whole highpriestly act, including both the entrance into the holy place and the subsequent offering of the blood, and that eu`ra,menoj is thus a participle of identical action. In either case it should be translated not having obtained as in R.V., but obtaining or and obtained. In Phil. 2:7 geno,menoj is related to labw,n as a participle of identical action; the relation of labw,n to evke,nwsen is less certain. It may denote the same action as evke,nwsen viewed from the opposite point of view (identical action), or may be thought of as an additional fact (subsequent action) to evke,nwsen. In Rom. 4:21 the participles dou,j and plhroforhqeij may be understood as together defining evnedunamw,qh th/| pi,stei, though dou,j is strictly subsequent to evnedunamw,qh.  Somewhat similar is 1 Pet. 3:18, where zwopoihqeij clearly subsequent to avpe,qanen [or e;paqen], but is probably to be taken together with qanatwqei,j as defining the whole of the preceding clause Cristo.j a[pax peri. a`martiw/n e;paqen( di,kaioj u`pe.r avdi,kwn( i[na u`ma/j prosaga,gh| tw/| qew/|.

146. The Aorist Participle used as an integral part of the object of a verb of perception represents the action which it denotes as a simple event without defining its time. The action may be one which is directly perceived and hence coincident in time with that of the principal verb, or it may be one which is ascertained or learned, and hence antecedent to the action of the principal verb. In the latter case it takes the place of a clause of indirect discourse having its verb in the Aorist Indicative.

Acts 9:12; kai. ei=den . . .a;ndra evn o`ra,mati ~Anani,an ovno,mati eivselqo,nta kai. evpiqe,nta auvtw/| cei/raj, and he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay hands upon him. See also Luke 10:18; Acts 10:3; 11:3; 26:13; 2 Pet. 1:18.

Luke 4:23; o[sa hvkou,samen geno,mena, whatever things we have heard to have been done.

147. The Aorist Participle with lanqa,nw denotes the same time as the principal verb. It occurs but once in the New Testament (Heb. 13:2), the similar construction with fqa,nw and tugca,nw, not at all. HA. 856, b; G. 1290.

148. The categories named above, Aorist Participle of Antecedent Action, of Identical Action, etc., which, it must be remembered, represent, not diverse functions of the tense, but only classes of cases for which the Aorist Participle may be used, do not include absolutely all the instances. There are, for example, cases in which the time-relation of the action of the participle to that of the verb is left undefined. John 16:2, o` avpoktei,naj u`ma/j do,xh| latrei,an prosfe,rein tw/| qew|/, means, every slayer of you will think, etc. Whether he will have such thought before he shall slay, when he slays, or after he shall have slain, is not at all defined. Cf. Gen. 4:15.

149. Very rarely also the Aorist Participle used adverbially refers to an action evidently in a general way coincident in time with the action of the verb, yet not identical with it.

Heb. 2:10; e;prepen ga.r auvtw/|( diV o]n ta. pa,nta kai. diV ou- ta. pa,nta( pollou.j ui`ou.j eivj do,xan avgago,nta to.n avrchgo.n th/j swthri,aj auvtw/n dia. paqhma,twn teleiw/sai, for it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. The participle avgago,nta is neither antecedent nor subsequent to teleiw/sai, nor yet strictly identical with it. Nearly the same thought might be expressed in English by when he brought or in bringing, and in Greek by o[te h;gagen or evn tw/| avgagei/n (cf. 109).
The choice of the Aorist Participle rather than the Present in such cases is due to the fact that the action is thought of, not as in progress, but as a simple event or fact. Concerning a similar use of the Aorist Participle in Homer, see Leo Meyer, Griechische Aoriste, p. 125; T. D. Seymour in T.A.P.A., 1881, pp. 89, 94. The rarity of these instances is due not to any abnormality in such a use of the tense, but to the fact that an action, temporally coincident with another and subordinate to it (and not simply the same action viewed from a different point of view), is naturally thought of as in progress, and hence is expressed by a Present Participle. Cf. exx. under 119.

150. As an aid to interpretation it may be observed that the Aorist Participle with the article may sometimes be used instead of a relative clause with the Aorist Indicative, sometimes instead of such a clause with the verb in the Aorist Subjunctive.1 But it should not. be supposed that from the point of view of the Greek language these were two distinct functions of the Aorist Participle. The phrase o]j e;labe referred in Greek to past time, o]j a'n la,bh| to present or future time. It is not probable that in the mind of a Greek o` labw,n was the precise equivalent of both of these, standing alternately for the one or the other, so that when he wrote o` labw,n he sometimes thought o]j e;labe, sometimes o]j a'n la,bh. The fact is doubtless rather that the Aorist Participle was always, strictly speaking, timeless, and that o` labw,n meant simply the receiver, the act of receiving being thought of as a simple fact without reference to progress. Thus for o` labw,n in Matt. 25:16 o]j e;labe might have stood, and it may be translated, he that received; while for o` ovmo,saj in Matt. 23:20 o[j a;n ovmo,sh might have stood, and it may be translated, whoever sweareth; and for o` u`pomei,naj in Matt. 24:13  o]j a'n u`pomei,nh might have stood, and it may be translated, whoever shall endure. Cf. Luke 12:8-10. But these differences are due not to a difference in the force of the tense in the three cases. In each case a translation by a timeless verbal noun — receiver, swearer, endurer — would correctly (though from the point of view of English rather awkwardly) represent the thought of the Greek. As respects the time-relation of the action of the participle to that of the principal verb o` labw,n and o` u`pomei,naj  are participles of antecedent action, o` ovmo,saj is a participle of identical action. But these distinctions, again, as stated above, are made, not to mark different functions of the Greek tense, but to aid in a fuller interpretation of the facts of the case.

151. Some scholars have endeavored to explain all participles with the article as equivalent to the relative pronoun with the corresponding tense of the Indicative. It is true that such participial phrases may often be resolved in this way and the sense essentially preserved. But that this is not a general principle will be evident from a comparison of the function of the tense in the Indicative and in the participle.  (a) All the tenses of the Indicative express time-relations from the point of view, not of the principal verb, but of the speaker. This principle holds in a relative clause as well as in a principal sentence. An Aorist verb standing in a relative clause may indeed refer to an action antecedent to the time of the principal verb, but this antecedence is not expressed by the tense of the verb. All that the Aorist tense does in respect to time is to place the action in past time; its relation in that past time to the action of the principal verb must be learned from some other source. The corresponding thing is true of the Present tense, which in a relative clause denotes time not contemporaneous with the action of the principal verb, but present from the point of view of the speaker. See, e.g., Matt. 11:4; 13:17.

(b) The participle, on the other hand, is in itself timeless, and gains whatever suggestion of time-relation it conveys from its relation to the rest of the sentence. It is not affirmed that the Aorist Participle denotes time relative to that of the principal verb, but that its time-relations are not independent, like those of the Indicative, but dependent.

It is thus apparent that the whole attitude, so to speak, of the participle toward time-relations is different from that of the Indicative, and no formula of equivalence between them can be constructed. A timeless noun or adjective cannot by any fixed rule be translated into a time-expressing verb.

Somewhat less of error is introduced if the rule is made to read that the participle may be translated into English by a relative clause using that tense of the English Indicative which corresponds to the tense of the Greek participle. Relative clauses in English frequently use the tenses apparently to denote time relative to that of the principal verb.  Thus in the sentence, When I am in London I will come to see you, the present tense,  am, really denotes time future with reference to the speaker, time present relative to that of the principal verb. Similarly in the sentence, They that have done good shall come forth to the resurrection of life have done is past, not with reference to the time of speaking, but to that of the principal verb. But such uses of tenses in English are merely permissible, not uniform. Shall have done would be more exact in the last sentence. Moreover, the rule as thus stated is false in principle, and not uniformly applicable in fact. It would require, e.g., that a Present Participle, standing in connection with an Aorist verb, should be rendered by an English Present, instead of by an English Past as it should usually be. See John 2:16; Acts 10:36.



1W. G. Ballantine, Attributive Aorist Participles in Protasis, in Bib. Sac. Apr. 1889.