|Lesson 3 Aorist Participles: Morphology, Syntax|
When an aorist participle is used adverbially, you will often find it appropriate to translate into English using the word "after," or perhaps "when," with the auxiliary verb "had" (e.g. "when he had looked up"), or simply the auxiliary verb "having" (e.g. having looked up). Each of these devices helps to set the action of the participle prior to the action of the main verb.
And having looked up, he was saying, I see the men because as trees I perceive them walking.
The main verb is ἔλεγεν. The aorist participle is ἀναβλέψας. Either "when he had looked up" or "having looked up" indicates that the man looked up and thereafter, was saying something about what he saw.
Μετὰ ταῦτα χωρισθεὶς ἐκ τῶν Ἀθηνῶν ἦλθεν εἰς Κόρινθον.
And having stood them in the midst they were inquiring, "By what power or in what name do you do this?"
Note that the aorist participle could indicate action that will be future from the perspective of the speaker, though still prior to the time of the main verb.
ὁ εὑρὼν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἀπολέσει
αὐτήν Mt. 10:39
Action Coincident with that of the Main Verb
However, the aorist participle is often used in contexts where there is no indication of time prior to the action of the main verb. Let's consider a particular participial phrase in several contexts. The phrase is ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα. In Acts 26:1, it might be argued that Paul extended his hand as he began speaking (taking the imperfect ἀπελογεῖτο as inceptive):
τότε ὁ Παῦλος ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἀπελογεῖτο
In Mt. 8:3, should we regard extending the hand as preliminary to the action of touching, or is it perceived as part and parcel of the action of touching?
καὶ ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἥψατο αὐτοῦMt. 8:3a (cf. Mk. 1:41, Lk. 5:13)
and extending his hand, he took hold of him
In Mt. 14:31, the adverb εὐθέως ("immediately"), used to describe Jesus' rescue of Peter, suggests that all of the action, extending the hand and taking hold of Peter, is conceived as having occurred in an instant. Here we have little choice but to construe the extending of the hand as the means whereby Jesus caught him:
εὐθέως δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἐπελάβετο αὐτοῦMt. 14:31a
and immediately Jesus, extending [his] hand, caught him
In the next example of ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα, we also see another aorist participle:
Surely the striking of the slave (πατάξας τὸν δοῦλον) was the means of taking off his ear rather than some action accomplished prior to the removal of his ear. Similarly, extending the hand was the means of drawing the sword. And so in the end, we see that the aorist participle may be used of action coincident with that of the main verb just as is the present participle.
(The following may be skipped for the time being, but at some point, it would be worth your while to come back and read this section.)
A cursory look at what some of the grammars say about the aorist participle may yield more confusion than enlightenment. The following statements are found in A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, F. Blass and A. Debrunner, translated by Robert W. Funk.
Similar seemingly divergent statements can be found in A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, by A. T. Robertson on pp. 1112ff. But if you look closely, what these statements are saying is that while antecedent action is not inherent in the aorist participle, it came to be routine to use the aorist participle for such, so much so that the idea of antecedent action was often associated with the aorist participle. Ernest De Will Burton explained this more thoroughly than some.
Let's summarize what Burton has said in bullets, modifying his language for simplicity:
|Assignment for Lesson 3|