Archives For Greek

Here’s the abstract for Dr. Green’s work on periphrastics that I mentioned last week.


This dissertation addresses two issues related to the Greek periphrastic construction in the New Testament: (1) identifying the periphrastics and (2) understanding the meaning associated with the periphrastic construction. Chapter 2 discusses the ways scholars have identified and understood periphrastics, concluding that there is no consensus on either issue.

In order to address these two issues, a data set of 506 NT passages broad enough to include all εἰμί periphrastics in the NT was created. Chapter 3 evaluates the data and eliminates the passages that do not contain a periphrastic with the result that 211 passages containing 243 periphrastics occur in the NT. Chapter 4 uses this list of 211 passages to discover the various syntactical arrangements of the periphrastic as well as the types of words that serve as adjuncts separating the auxiliary and the participle. On this basis a preliminary definition of the εἰμί periphrastic is offered.

Chapter 5 evaluates all 243 εἰμί periphrastics using Aerts‖ categories of suppletive, substitute, and expressive in order to describe the meaning of the construction. This study demonstrates that 76 periphrastics are suppletive forms, forms that occur because the equivalent monolectic form is either not used or is fading from use in the Koine period. Additionally, 142 periphrastics are substitute periphrastics and thus have no meaning beyond the meaning of the equivalent monolectic form. The remaining 25 NT periphrastics are expressive. Each of these expressive periphrastics satisfies the criterion that the periphrastic communicates something more or beyond the finite form equivalent. In addition, chapter 5 demonstrates that periphrastics using a present participle are often continuous in pragmatic force, but this is not an absolute rule. In addition, periphrastics using a perfect participle emphasize the state or condition of the action in keeping with their aspectual value.

The final chapter offers a refined definition of the εἰμί periphrastic based on both the syntactical and semantic qualities of the construction. This dissertation encourages interpreters not to overinterpret the periphrastic construction by assuming that syntactical markedness is equal to semantic markedness. Finally, it urges commentators and grammarians to discuss periphrastics in a more nuanced fashion.

Green, Robert E. “Understanding ΕΙΜΙ Periphrastics in the Greek of the New Testament.” Ph.D. dissertation, Baptist Bible Seminary, 2012.

(I thought this had been posted a month ago, but just found it in my drafts folder.)

I’ve been hunting for a list of verbs in the NT (&/or LXX) that have both first and second aorist forms. Thus far I’ve come up dry. I know of only three such verbs, but I thought there were more. Anyone know of such a list or can anyone add to this list?


Dave Black on translations

January 22, 2011

Here’s some sage comment on current Bible translations by David Alan Black (who happens to be the NT editor of the ISV).

No controversy has been more overworked these days than the one over modern Bible translations. It is thought a crowning virtue to be opinionated about what is the “best” translation. But no translation of the Bible is perfect. (This includes the ISV of course.) There is much artificial whipped-up enthusiasm among Christians today who have found the “perfect” translation that “finally gets it right.” The same enthusiasm can be worked up by a cheerleader for “slave” over “servant.” Tie that to a book promotion and you have a possible recipe for disaster.

One of the distressing developments in our superficial church culture is a cheap familiarity with New Testament Greek. It is fashionable to give the impression that we (and we alone) know what the Greek really says. I have sometimes referred to this as “evangelical Greek” or, in my less sanctified moments, “philological voodoo.” There is no place in evangelical biblical scholarship for the frivolous approach by which we claim for ourselves an inerrant understanding of Scripture. None of us who has labored in the task of Bible translation is ever worthy to claim perfection for our product. That includes me, and it includes you.

You can find the original here if you (manually!) scroll to 1/22/2011, 8:50 am entry.

I’ve posted below a pdf that summarizes informal conditions in koine Greek. This is a new section that I’m adding to my first year material for the spring semester. I’ve always had a discussion of conditions, but it’s only ever been the formal conditions, i.e., those explicitly marked as such by the formal categories (1st, 2d, 3d, 4th class by the taxonomy I use). I’ve thought over the years that a beginning student ought to realize that there are other ways in which conditional-type statements can be expressed. So here’s my first shot at it for first year. I haven’t tried to include every possibility, but the major ones are here. Have i missed anything significant? See any problems with what I’ve written? I’d be interested in any comments on the content.


Greek accents

December 22, 2010

How important are Greek accents? There’s an interesting discussion going on over at the Evangelical Text Crit blog just now. Pete Williams has proposed three major reasons why you ought to care about accents.

Grammatical Look-a-likes

December 20, 2010

Bill Mounce’s recent blog post shows a form that will puzzle many students (and perhaps some others!). As we often teach in first year Greek, if it looks like an article, but has both an accent and a breathing mark, it’s a relative pronoun. That’s a bit of an oversimplification for first year pedagogical purposes. The example Bill uses is Heb. 2:11,

ὅ τε γὰρ ἁγιάζων καὶ οἱ ἁγιαζόμενοι ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντες· δι᾿ ἣν αἰτίαν οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοὺς καλεῖν.

My favorite example is from Acts (where this same construction occurs 7 times):

Acts 8:38 καὶ ἐκέλευσεν στῆναι τὸ ἅρμα καὶ κατέβησαν ἀμφότεροι εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ, ὅ τε Φίλιππος καὶ ὁ εὐνοῦχος, καὶ ἐβάπτισεν αὐτόν.

He commanded the chariot to stop and both of them went down into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch, and he [i.e., Philip] baptized him.

In these two examples ὅ (rough breathing and acute accent) looks like the neuter singular relative pronoun, but it’s not. Notice that the following word, τε, is an enclitic, so its accent shift back one word to the article ὁ, resulting in ὅ. In this case (Acts 8:38), it is the article that governs Φίλιππος.

There are other lookalikes in Greek that you need to watch out for also. These include some indicative/imperative forms, the indefinite/interrogative pronouns, the preposition εἰς and the number εἱς, liquid futures which can look like indicatives, etc. Somewhere I ran across a list of these once… now if I could just remember where I put it!

It also reminds me of some other lookalikes…

Chili Totally Looks Like Cat

Or perhaps the one that got the most media attention 2 years ago, Sarah Palin and Tina Fey:

To which some think we should add we can add Cindy Michaels

And there are some other ones that I’ve run across…
Doggy hair
(I will confess to the suspicion of a bit of “Photoshopping” on this one to make the color tones the same!)

One last offering…

Mimas Totally Looks Like Death Star

I ran across this excerpt from Machen through several other links. It was posted on the Voice of Stefan blog several years ago. Though originally written almost 100 years ago, much of it sounds like today, especially in terms of pastoral priorities. (There are some other, related items at the end.)

J. Gresham Machen, The Presbyterian, February 7, 1918

The widening breach between the minister and his Greek Testament may be traced to two principal causes. The modern minister objects to his Greek New Testament or is indifferent to it, first, because he is becoming less interested in his Greek, and second, because he is becoming less interested in his New Testament.

The former objection is merely one manifestation of the well known tendency in modern education to reject the “humanities” in favor of studies that are more obviously useful, a tendency which is fully as pronounced in the universities as it is in the theological seminaries. In many colleges the study of Greek is almost abandoned; there is little wonder, therefore, that the graduates are not prepared to use their Greek Testament. Plato and Homer are being neglected as much as Paul. A refutation of the arguments by which this tendency is justified would exceed the limits of the present article. This much, however, may be said—the refutation must recognize the opposing principles that are involved. The advocate of the study of Greek and Latin should never attempt to plead his cause merely before the bar of “efficiency.” Something, no doubt, might be said even there; it might possibly be contended that an acquaintance with Greek and Latin is really necessary to acquaintance with the mother tongue, which is obviously so important for getting on in the world. But why not go straight to the root of the matter? The real trouble with the modern exaltation of “practical” studies at the expense of the humanities is that it is based upon a vicious conception of the whole purpose of education. The modern conception of the purpose of education is that education is merely intended to enable a man to live, but not to give him those things in life that make life worth living.

In the second place, the modern minister is neglecting his Greek New Testament because he is becoming less interested in his New Testament in general—less interested in his Bible. The Bible used to be regarded as providing the very sum and substance of preaching; a preacher was true to his calling only as he succeeded in reproducing and applying the message of the Word of God. Very different is the modern attitude. The Bible is not discarded, to be sure, but it is treated only as one of the sources, even though it be still the chief source, of the preacher’s inspiration. Moreover, a host of duties other than preaching and other than interpretation of the Word of God are required of the modern pastor. He must organize clubs and social activities of a dozen different kinds; he must assume a prominent part in movements for civic reform. In short, the minister has ceased to be a specialist. The change appears, for example, in the attitude of theological students, even of a devout and reverent type. One outstanding difficulty in theological education today is that the students persist in regarding themselves, not as specialists, but as laymen. Critical questions about the Bible they regard as the property of men who are training themselves for theological professorships or the like, while the ordinary minister, in their judgment, may content himself with the most superficial layman’s acquaintance with the problems involved. The minister is thus no longer a specialist in the Bible, but has become merely a sort of general manager of the affairs of a congregation.

The bearing of this modern attitude toward the study of the Bible upon the study of the Greek Testament is sufficiently obvious. If the time allotted to strictly biblical studies must be diminished, obviously the most laborious part of those studies, the part least productive of immediate results, will be the first to go. And that part, for students insufficiently prepared, is the study of Greek and Hebrew. If, on the other hand, the minister is a specialist—if the one thing that he owes his congregation above all others is a thorough acquaintance, scientific as well as experimental, with the Bible—then the importance of Greek requires no elaborate argument. In the first place, almost all the most important books about the New Testament presuppose a knowledge of Greek: the student who is without at least a smattering of Greek is obliged to use for the most part works that are written, figuratively speaking, in words of one syllable. In the second place, such a student cannot deal with all the problems at first hand, but in a thousand important questions is at the mercy of the judgment of others. In the third place, our student without Greek cannot acquaint himself with the form as well as the content of the New Testament books. The New Testament, as well as all other literature, loses something in translation. But why argue the question? Every scientific student of the New Testament without exception knows that Greek is really necessary to his work: the real question is only as to whether our ministry should be manned by scientific students.

That question is merely one phase of the most important question that is now facing the church— the question of Christianity and culture. The modern world is dominated by a type of thought that is either contradictory to Christianity or else out of vital connection with Christianity. This type of thought applied directly to the Bible has resulted in the naturalistic view of the biblical history—the view that rejects the supernatural not merely in the Old Testament narratives, but also in the Gospel account of the life of Jesus. According to such a view the Bible is valuable because it teaches certain ideas about God and his relations to the world, because it teaches by symbols and example, as well as by formal presentation, certain great principles that have always been true. According to the supernaturalistic view, on the other hand, the Bible contains not merely a presentation of something that was always true, but also a record of something that happened—namely, the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. If this latter view be correct, then the Bible is unique; it is not merely one of the sources of the preacher’s inspiration, but the very sum and substance of what he has to say. But, if so, then whatever else the preacher need not know, he must know the Bible; he must know it at first hand, and be able to interpret and defend it. Especially while doubt remains in the world as to the great central question, who more properly than the ministers should engage in the work of resolving such doubt—by intellectual instruction even more than by argument? The work cannot be turned over to a few professors whose work is of interest only to themselves, but must be undertaken energetically by spiritually minded men throughout the church. But obviously this work can be undertaken to best advantage only by those who have an important prerequisite for the study in a knowledge of the original languages upon which a large part of the discussion is based.

If, however, it is important for the minister to use his Greek Testament, what is to be done about it? Suppose early opportunities were neglected, or what was once required has been lost in the busy rush of ministerial life. Here we may come forward boldly with a message of hope. The Greek of the New Testament is by no means a difficult language; a very fair knowledge of it may be acquired by any minister of average intelligence. And to that end two homely directions may be given. In the first place, the Greek should be read aloud. A language cannot easily be learned by the eye alone. The sound as well as the sense of familiar passages should be impressed upon the mind, until sound and sense are connected without the medium of translation. Let this result not be hastened; it will come of itself if the simple direction be followed. In the second place, the Greek Testament should be read every day without fail, Sabbaths included. Ten minutes a day is of vastly more value than seventy minutes once a week. If the student keeps a “morning watch,” the Greek Testament ought to be given a place in it; at any rate, the Greek Testament should be read devotionally. The Greek Testament is a sacred book, and should be treated as such. If it is treated so, the reading of it will soon become a source of joy and power.

On the same page there was a link to another post on this topic. Part of that linked post is a John Piper article that I’ve previously posted here, but there is also a summary of a discussion from the b-greek list that I’ll insert here.

B-Greek General Consensus

1. You are always subject to the choices of the translator(s) in doing Biblical studies if you do not know the original languages.

a. Even though you may trust those translators, nevertheless it is more
useful in doing serious study to know the language yourself.

b. Unless you can read Biblical Greek, you have forever limited yourself
to low-level study aids. The inability to research commentaries and lexicons
that deal with the original language again means that you have decided to
let someone else tell you what the Bible says: commentaries that are not
based on the original languages are inadequate.

c. It gives you access to the best scholarly journals and books in
biblical and theological studies.

d. It gives you a greater independence as an interpreter of Scripture

2. It takes you a step closer to the people who used the language 2000 years ago.

a. It gives you a broader and deeper understanding of the linguistic and
cultural milieu in which the NT was written.

b. It gives you a new appreciation of the richness and depth of the
sacred texts, which previously you have come to value even though you have
perceived them only through a veil, dimly.

c. Studying the Bible in the original languages brings a new dimension to
the scriptures that simply does not get portrayed in English. It allows you
to interact with the scriptures in a new way.

3. Studying the Greek NT provides a way to get a fresh look at what the text
is actually saying.
It may help to overcome some of our preconceived notions
of what the English text says.

If you’d like some additional discussion of this topic, see other essays that I’ve posted.

Here’s a site I ran across today that looks very useful. It lists all the Loeb Classical volumes in Greek that are available online for free. It’s a surprisingly long list.

I just finished reading a new book that was published in late Sept.:

David J. Perry, Document Preparation for Classical Languages. Charleston, SC n.p.: Greentop, 2010.
ISBN 098265488X
or, in the new, longer form, 978-0-9826548-9-7

Perry is the author of the well-known Cardo font—at least well-known in biblical studies circles (I don’t know about elsewhere, but possibly so! 🙂 ) —one of the first and best Unicode fonts with support for Hebrew and polytonic Greek. The Hebrew is particularly well designed and implemented; the Greek glyphs are not very attractive, IMHO. Perry is a Latin teacher in New York and has published a Latin textbook with Prentice Hall (Ecce Romani III – A Latin Reading Program, 4th ed., 2009).

But back to the book. What Perry has done is lay out all the issues that relate to using specialized fonts in a wide range of classical languages. My interest, of course, is primarily in relation to Greek, but he also covers Coptic, Hebrew, Syriac, Phoenician Latin (and Old Italic), various scripts used in Medieval studies, and IPA notation.

When I say “all the issues” I mean that he explains how the various modern operating systems (Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux) handle Unicode fonts, the various types of fonts and the capabilities of each for such things as diacritic positioning, right-to-left text, alternate glyphs, as well as means for entering the various Unicode characters, and software for handling the classical languages.

This is, of course, a wide-ranging topic that is constantly changing, but this treatment is up-to-date and very helpful. If you work with any of the languages noted above, you ought to read a good bit of this book. Though your could skip the sections that don’t relate directly to your needs, reading all of it would help you understand better the issued involved with specialized fonts.

Unfortunately, Perry can’t fix the issues with right-to-left text entry in MS Office (that doesn’t work well in the Windows version and is totally brain-dead in the Mac version—probably due to political/marketing ploys to keep Mac OS at a disadvantage in RTL countries such as Israel and Arabic language ones), but at least you will understand what’s involved and his explanations may help you fix some glitches if you’re fighting with Word or PowerPoint.

(Perhaps the better solution is to switch to OpenOffice which handles Unicode, including RTL languages, much better than any of the MS products. The price is right; the language capabilities more robust; the interface looks dated, but is very functional despite not having all the current “eye candy” of MS Office.)

You can get info on the book on Perry’s web site, Fonts for Scholars, along with ordering information (Amazon is not the cheapest!). The book is available in either pdf, B&W paperback, or color paperback.

Here’s an interesting list from Dave Black’s blog today. (I post it here partly because there’s no way to link to a specific or permanent location on Dave’s site since he doesn’t use blog software. Dave, you really should!)

I agree with Dave (except, perhaps, for 1.d—the parenthetical comment). 🙂

9/30/2010, 12:20 PM

The latest issue of The Reader’s Digest has an interesting article entitled “13 Things Used Car Salesmen Won’t Tell You.” Here are “13 Things Your Greek Teachers Won’t Tell You”:

1. Greek is not the only tool you need to interpret your New Testament. In fact, it’s only one component in a panoply of a myriad of tools. Get Greek, but don’t stop there. (You’ll need, for example, a Hebrew New Testament as well.)

2. Greek is not the Open Sesame of biblical interpretation. All it does is limit your options. It tells you what’s possible, then the context and other factors kick in to disambiguate the text.

3. Greek is not superior to other languages in the world. Don’t believe it when you are told that Greek is more logical than, say, Hebrew. Not true.

4. Greek had to be the language in which God inscripturated New Testament truth because of its complicated syntax. Truth be told, there’s only one reason why the New Testament was written in Greek and not in another language (say, Latin), and that is a man named Alexander the Great, whose vision was to conquer the inhabited world and then unite it through a process known as Hellenization. To a large degree he succeeded, and therefore the use of Greek as the common lingua franca throughout the Mediterranean world in the first century AD should come as no surprise to us today. I emphasize this point only because there are some today who would seek to resurrect the notion of “Holy Ghost” Greek. Their view is, in my view, a demonstrable cul-de-sac.

5. Greek words do not have one meaning. Yet how many times do we hear in a sermon, “The word in the Greek means…”? Most Greek words are polysemous, that is, they have many possible meanings, only one of which is its semantic contribution to any passage in which it occurs. (In case you were wondering: Reading all of the meanings of a Greek word into any particular passage in which it occurs is called “illegitimate totality transfer” by linguists.)

6. Greek is not difficult to learn. I’ll say it again: Greek is not difficult to learn. I like to tell my students, “Greek is an easy language; it’s us Greek teachers who get in the way.” The point is that anyone can learn Greek, even a poorly-educated surfer from Hawaii. If I can master Greek, anyone can!

7. Greek can be acquired through any number of means, including most beginning textbooks. Yes, I prefer to use my own Learn to Read New Testament Greek in my classes, but mine is not the only good textbook out there. When I was in California I taught in an institution that required all of its Greek teachers to use the same textbook for beginning Greek. I adamantly opposed that policy. I feel very strongly that teachers should have the right to use whichever textbook they prefer. Thankfully, the year I left California to move to North Carolina that policy was reversed, and now teachers can select their own beginning grammars. (By the way, the textbook that had been required was mine!)

8. Greek students think they can get away with falling behind in their studies. Folks, you can’t. I tell my students that it’s almost impossible to catch up if you get behind even one chapter in our textbook. Language study requires discipline and time management skills perhaps more than any other course of study in school.

9. Greek is fun! At least when it’s taught in a fun way.

10. Greek is good for more than word studies. In fact, in the past few years I’ve embarked on a crusade to get my students to move away from word-bound exegesis. When I was in seminary I was taught little more than how to do word studies from the Greek. Hence, I thought I had “used Greek in ministry” if I had consulted my Wuest, Robertson, Kittle, Brown, Vincent, or Vines. Since then I’ve discovered that lexical analysis is the handmaiden and not the queen of New Testament exegesis. Greek enables us to see how a text is structured, how it includes rhetorical devices, how syntactical constructions are often hermeneutical keys, etc.

11. Greek can cause you to lose your faith. It happened to one famous New Testament professor in the US when he discovered that there were textual variants in his Greek New Testament, and it can happen to you. When the text of Scripture becomes nothing more than “another analyzable datum of linguistic interpretation” then it loses its power as the Word of God. That’s why I’m so excited about my Greek students at the seminary, most of whom are eager to place their considerable learning at the feet of Jesus in humble service to His upside-down kingdom.

12. Greek can be learned in an informal setting. The truth is that you do not need to take a formal class in this subject or in any subject for that matter. I know gobs of homeschoolers who are using my grammar in self-study, many of whom are also using my Greek DVDs in the process. If anyone wants to join the club, let me know and I will send you, gratis, a pronunciation CD and a handout called “Additional Exercises.”

13. Greek is not Greek. In other words, Modern Greek and Koine Greek are two quite different languages. So don’t expect to be able to order a burrito in Athens just because you’ve had me for first year Greek. On the other hand, once you have mastered Koine Greek it is fairly easy to work backwards (and learn Classical Greek) and forwards (and learn Modern Greek).

Okay, I’m done. And yes, I’m exaggerating. Many Greek teachers do in fact tell their students these things. May their tribe increase!

Now who wants to tackle “13 Things Your Hebrew Teachers Won’t Tell You”?

Thanks to Dave Black I now know a bit more about one of the great Greek grammarians of the 19th C., Basil Gildersleeve. He served in the Civil War after he had earned his doctorate and had taught for some years (U/Virginia and John Hopkins). After being shot during the war he reported,

I lost my pocket Homer, I lost my pistol, I lost one of my horses and, finally, I came very near losing my life.


For an interesting essay on Gildersleeve that Dave links, see A Greek Professor in the Civil War.

And in the FWIW dept., Dave also appends a note:

Note again: All great Greek scholars sport beards.

Dave does…NewImage.jpg

But alas, the reverse is not necessarily true. Just because I (or you!) have a bead does not make us great Greek scholars. 🙂 That’s a bit like trying to argue the reverse of a first class condition…

After discussing second aorist forms yesterday, my TA and I were just looking at BDAG’s entry for φέρω:

φέρω (Hom.+) impf. ἔφερον; fut. οἴσω J 21:18; Rv 21:26; 1 aor. ἤνεγκα, ptc. ἐνέγκας; 2 aor. inf. ἐνεγκεῖν (B-D-F §81, 2); pf. ἐνήνοχα (LXX, JosAs). Pass.: 1 aor. ἠνέχθην 2 Pt 1:17, 21a, 3 pl. ἐνέχθησαν Hs 8, 2, 1.

This listing seems odd to me. Note the items I’ve bolded. Why would ἤνεγκα and ἠνέχθην be listed as first aorist forms? I would think they should be designated as second aorist since they are formed from a different stem (*ἐνεκ). For now I’ll call them an anomaly, but “error” looks more likely–as hesitantly as I am in disagreeing with Danker.

English Second Aorist Forms

August 25, 2010

Well, not technically! English has no aorist, let alone a second aorist, but some English verbs exhibit a parallel phenomenon. Here’s a quick review of the Greek second aorist, and then an extended illustration from English.

There are some Greek verb forms that are not formed from the same root as other forms that are treated as the same word. The root and stem of many (perhaps most) words are the same. But some words have different stems for different tense-forms.
In most cases, the stem will either be: the same in all forms; or different in the present, but the same in other forms; or different in the second aorist and the same in other forms. For example, λύω uses the same root/stem across the board: λυ–. That is why it serves as the “paradigm verb” in most textbooks. On the other hand, γινώσκω in the present uses the stem γινωσκ-, but all other forms use the stem γνω– (which is the same as the root, *γνω). The third common pattern is seen in ἄγω: the present stem is ἀγ– (as is the future, perfect, etc.), but the second aorist stem is ἀγαγ–.

With suppletive forms, words that were originally unrelated etymologically, came to be used as different forms of the same word. For example, the word λέγω is the present form of the word which means “I am saying/speaking, I say/speak,” but the future form is not λέγσω*, but ἐρῶ. The aorist form used for λέγω is not ἔλεγσα*, but εἶπον. These three forms were originally three different Greek words that were only used in certain forms (λέγω in present, ἐρῶ in the future, and εἶπον in the aorist). Eventually they came to be used as if they were different forms of the same word.

The most common words that have multiple roots that were originally unrelated are as follows.

  • λέγω (I say) has three roots: *λεγ- (pres.), *ἐρ- (fut., pf., aor. pas.), and *ἰπ- (aor. act.)
  • ἔρχομαι (I come/go) has two roots: *ἐρχ (pres.) and *ἐλευθ (fut., aor., pf.)
  • ἐσθίω (I eat) has two roots: *ἐσθι (pres.) and *φαγ (fut. and aor.)
  • ὁράω (I see) has three roots: *ὁρα (pres., pf.), *ὀπ (fut., aor. pas.), and *ϝιδ (aor. act.)
  • οἶδα (I know) has three roots: *ϝορα (pres.), *ὀπ (fut., aor.), and *ϝιδ (aor. of εἶδον; technically this is a synonym, not a suppletive form, but it is usually treated the same way.)
  • φέρω (I carry): *φερ (pres.), *οἰ (fut.), *ἐνεκ (aor., pf.)

Less common NT words with suppletive forms include:

  • αἱρέω (I choose; ≠ αἶρω): *αἱρε (pres., fut., pf. m/p, aor. pas.) and *ϝελ (aor. act.)
  • πάσχω (I suffer): *παθ (pres., aor.) and *πενθ (pf.)
  • τρέχω (I run): *θρεχ (pres.) and *δραμ (aor.)

The same thing happens in English!

Go (present) and went (past) are not etymologically related. English used to have a past tense of go (= eode, Anglo-Saxon, and yode in Middle Eng.). It also had a present tense of went (= wend). We now use go and went as if they were present and past tenses of the same word. (There are other English words that have similar histories, but this is one of the more common ones.)

To see some of this firsthand, browse through the following diachronic sampling of older stages of the English language. If you read carefully, you can make sufficient sense of all these examples even though they are usually from Middle English texts (there are a few from the early stages of Modern English as well, and even a few 19th century examples). These examples all come from the Oxford English Dictionary (compact edition, unabridged; Oxford Univ. Press, 1971).

s.v. “yode, yede”

v. Obs. Past tense of Go v. (= went, went away, proceeded, took his course)

‣ Selected examples [date] {pg. col. in OED}

  • Trevisa Higden (Rolls) IV.397. [1387] {61a}
    A lampe .. in þat hevene .. þat ȝede a doun westward as it were þe sonne
  • Hampole Pr. Consc. 4851 [1340] {61b}
    Þat day, þat Loth yhed out of Sodome
  • Ellis Orig. Lett. Ser. 1.1.244 [1524] {61b}
    Saing if he yode awaye she must neds do for her self
  • Ld. Bernes Huon. clxiii.636 [1533] {61b}
    He issued out of the gate and yode towards the tentes of his enemyes
  • Spenser F. Q. 1.x.53 [1590] {61b}
  • Such one, as that same mighty man of God, that bloud-red billowes .. disparted with his rod, Till that his army dry-foot through them yod
  • Glasgerian 46 in Fuvniv. & Hales Percy Folio 1.250 [1650] {61b}
    He did not kisse that Lady gay when he came nor when he youd
  • Scott Marm. III.xxxi [1808] {61b}
    In other place than forth he yode, Returned Lord Marmion

s.v. “wend”

“The original forms of the [past tense] and [past participle] are respectively wende and wended, wend, but the forms wente, went appear beside these from 1200, and latterly become the more usual; in the [reflexive] and [intransitive] senses went finally replaced the older preterites [i.e., past tenses] belonging to go, and from c 1500 is most naturally regarded as the [past tense] of that verb, while wend was provided with the new form wended.

  • Chaucer, Prol. 21 [c 1386] {315c}
    In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay Ready to wenden on my pilgrymage
  • Hist. K. Boccus & Sydrache X j b [?1510] {316a}
    When the soule at the ende Shal out fro the body wende
  • Scott, Ivanhoe xx [1819] {316a}
    Wend on your way, in the name of God and St. Dunstan
  • Chev. Assigne 161 [c 1430] {316a}
    And whenne drowȝe to the þe nyȝte he wendethe to bedde
  • Fairfax Tasso xii. xxxii [1600] {316a}
    Downe from the tree I came in haste, And tooke thee vp and on my journey wend
  • Caryle Fr. Rev. 1.1.ii. [1837] {316a}
    The Merovingian Kings, slowly wending on their bullock-carts through the streets of Paris
  • Shelley Sonn. Dante 4 [1816] {316b}
    Ascend A magic ship, whose charmed sails should fly With wind at will where’re our thoughts might wend
  • Scott Kenilw. xxiii [1821] {316b}
    Adieu, and may the blessing of God wend with you!
  • G. Head Forest Scenes of N. Amer. 109 [1829] {316b}
    We wended our way down the ravine
  • Sladen Poetry of Exiles (2d ed.) 1.27 [1885] {316b}
    Pleasant it was to wend his way back to familiar Kent
  • Maury Phys. Geog. viii §394 [1860] {316b}
    On the Australian side, an ice-bearing current is found wending its way from the Antarctic regions.

‣ Notes on several Old English characters used above

Ȝ ȝ = yogh, a g sound (can actually have several different sounds [e.g., y or ch] depending on the time it was written; this varies from Old English to Middle English, with some internal variations.)

Þ þ = thorn, a th sound
(See the delightful lyric on these letters by Catherine Faber at

Although the word wend is archaic in modern English, it is still used, though primarily in poetic contexts (or by authors who are deliberately stretching for variety—perhaps enabled by a thesaurus!). As one example of modern English poetry, the word wend appears in the work of Robert Louis Stevenson (19th C.).


by Robert Louis Stevenson

Book 1


On the great streams the ships may go
About men’s business to and fro.
But I, the egg-shell pinnace, sleep
On crystal waters ankle-deep:
I, whose diminutive design,
Of sweeter cedar, pithier pine,
Is fashioned on so frail a mould,
A hand may launch, a hand withhold:
I, rather, with the leaping trout
Wind, among lilies, in and out;
I, the unnamed, inviolate,
Green, rustic rivers, navigate;
My dipping paddle scarcely shakes
The berry in the bramble-brakes;
Still forth on my green way I wend
Beside the cottage garden-end;
And by the nested angler fare,
And take the lovers unaware.

By willow wood and water-wheel
Speedily fleets my touching keel;
By all retired and shady spots
Where prosper dim forget-me-nots;
By meadows where at afternoon
The growing maidens troop in June
To loose their girdles on the grass.
Ah! speedier than before the glass
The backward toilet goes; and swift
As swallows quiver, robe and shift
And the rough country stockings lie
Around each young divinity.
When, following the recondite brook,
Sudden upon this scene I look,
And light with unfamiliar face
On chaste Diana’s bathing-place,
Loud ring the hills about and all
The shallows are abandoned. . . .

In Mark 12:6 both the Gramcord and Accordance databases parse ἔσχατον as masculine—I assume because it is parked next to the masculine form αὐτόν (the form is the same for both masc and neut acc sing). Yet syntactically it appears to function as an adverb, modifying ἀπέστειλεν. When adjectives function as adverbs they are usually neuter. If this were masculine, this would suggest, I think, understanding it as substantival in apposition to αὐτόν: “he sent him, the last one.”

I’d put it in English something like this:

“He still had one [to send], a beloved son. He finally sent him to them, saying ‘They will respect my son’.”

Does this analysis make sense? Or am I missing something here?

See BDAG, 397–98.2.b (end) for ἔσχατον as an adverb; for a discussion of adjectives that function as adverbs, see Wallace, 292–93.

FWIW observation: The longer I study the serious, exegetical Mark commentaries who actually deal with grammar and syntax,* the more skeptical I’m becoming of some common claims. As just one example, one of my favorite commentaries (and it is that) on Mark is Robert Gundry’s massive tome. It’s really a magisterial work, worth the price just for the introduction. He’s read everybody and interacts with most of them in massive sets of notes on each section. These notes sections may not be the best organized, but they are loaded with helpful material, even if you often disagree with him. But to my point, the more I read Gundry the more leery I am of claims to “emphasis.” If there is as much emphasis in Mark as Gundry finds, then Mark comes across as a writer who always uses his caps lock key for email. (Or maybe like an Oliver B. Greene commentary filled with CAPS, or an A. W. Pink book! —I think Pink got a fire sale special! and bought an entire warehouse full!! of exclamation points!!! 🙂 ) When everything is emphatic, then nothing is, even if you dress it up with fancy names like hyperbaton, aposiopesis, trajection, etc.

*Surprisingly, not all “exegetical commentaries” spend much time on grammar and syntax. So long as I’m naming names in this post, Craig Evans’ WBC vol on the 2d half of Mark is a good example of this. His notes with the translation are almost entirely text critical, and his commentary (about 600 pgs on 8 chs) rarely discusses grammar or syntax. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a helpful work–but its forte is Second Temple backgrounds, not the language.