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Ron Corbett | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Jul 2 2010 1:32 PM

Hebrew 06 - Verbs  -4:50

1 Sam 1:12  As she "continued" in prayer ...

My Question is:   "continued" is not [as I might have expected] in the IMPERFECT, so ... why not? What is the meaning of having a word like "continued" in the PERFECT. Is this functioning like the Greek Pluperfect?

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 2 2010 2:04 PM

Ron Corbett:

Hebrew 06 - Verbs  -4:50

1 Sam 1:12  As she "continued" in prayer ...

My Question is:   "continued" is not [as I might have expected] in the IMPERFECT, so ... why not? What is the meaning of having a word like "continued" in the PERFECT. Is this functioning like the Greek Pluperfect?

The difference between perfect and imperfect here is one of feel, or emphasis. For example, compare these two sentences: "as she continued in prayer" OR "as she was continuing in prayer." The former would be a perfect, the second an imperfect. The content doesn't change but the 'flavor' of the action--how it is portrayed--is different, isn't it.

Think of the Hebrew perfect tense like the English 'simple past' tense.

 Help links: WIKI;  Logos 6 FAQ. (Phil. 2:14, NIV)

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Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 3 2010 12:17 AM

The verb 'continued' in 1 Sam 1:12 generally means to 'increase' or 'multiply'. I suspect we arrive at 'continued' as a translators choice to clarify that the increase is in duration rather than in the number of prayers being spoken, or the volume or the intensity of the prayers (we know Hannah is getting quieter, since her words were intelligible when she started praying and un-hearable at the end). That's just off the cuff - I haven't looked at the other places where this verb is in the hiphil stem followed by L + an infinitive. But that is secondary to the issue of perfect vs. imperfect.

In narrative, it's helpful to look at the sequence of verbs to get a bigger picture. The sequential backbone of a narrative is quite often a series of imperfect verbs prefixed with a waw-consecutive. If I wanted to establish a simple sequence like "I got up and then I ate breakfast and then I took a walk" in Hebrew, I would use three imperfect-waw-consecutive verbs to accomplish that. Against this sequential backbone we have perfect verbs and participles which set off the action of those verbs from the main sequence. So if I wanted to add details to the breakfast about how the eggs were cooked, or details about the weather during the walk, I might switch to the perfect tense or use participles, or even imperfect verbs without the waw-consecutive.

So if we look at 1 Sam 1, and spot the imperfect sequential verbs: from verse 9 to 14 we have Hannah rising, praying, vowing and saying "..." and then we have Eli taking her for drunk and saying "...". That's the basic chronological sequence. Then the details that fit around that backbone include Eli sitting at the doorpost (perfect verb) Hannah multiplying or increasing (perfect) her praying (infinitive) which is further qualified by two participles describing her prayers: she is speaking in her heart and only moving her lips and finally the non-sequential imperfect that her voice was not heard completing the description of her prayers. These details complement the sequence of events, but they are not sequential. Eli may have been sitting at the doorpost before Hanna rose. The act of moving the lips, speaking in her heart and no voice being heard are all simultaneous, not sequential, etc.

All of this might seem a little strange from an English perspective. After all, if Eli is just hanging around at the doorpost (rather than a sequential event of 'and then Eli sat down at the doorpost') then why is THAT described using a perfect verb when the punctiliar act of Hannah getting up from her meal (something done once and the narrative moves forward) is 'imperfect'? Seems almost backwards, at least in relation to the labels we apply to these verb forms. I think this example shows well that getting hung up on 'completed' or 'punctiliar' action versus 'incomplete' or 'imperfective' action for an individual word doesn't really get the job done with the Hebrew tenses, but things start to make sense if you look at the bigger patterns.

Examining the Greek also illustrates this 'inversion' with regards to the grammatical labels we use. If you look at the LXX, the Hebrew verbs that are imperfect sequential in the passage we've talked about are translated not in the imperfect tense in Greek but in the aorist (the aorist is the default sequential tense in Greek, and generally 'perfective' in aspect) while the Hebrew perfect verbs (like Eli's sitting in verse 9 and Hannah's increasing in verse 12) are in the imperfect tense in Greek. This is not a bad translation - it is, however, a good sign not to confuse the Greek definitions of 'perfect' and 'imperfect' with the same terms used to describe Hebrew verbs.

Chapter 6 of Chisholm's From Exegesis to Exposition is a good place to look for more information on this topic. Waltke and O'Connor's An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax has a lot to say on these issues as well, though it is a little harder to jump into the middle of that book. It's better read cover-to-cover when you're ready to push things to the next level.

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Robert Pavich | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 3 2010 3:25 AM

Vincent Setterholm:
Chapter 6 of Chisholm's From Exegesis to Exposition is a good place to look for more information on this topic.

Vincent, thanks for the tip...I just purchased it.

Ahh...the cloud is a wonderful thing..... Wink

Robert Pavich

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Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2010 4:53 PM

I haven't gotten my copy of these videos yet, but I notice from Dennis Audet's Excel spreadsheet that the Hebrew 9 video ends with a segment called 'Verb Sequences' which might cover these ideas in more detail as well (just judging from the segment title).

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Ron Corbett | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 7 2010 10:55 AM

Thanks for the great responses. I can see that this is going to be a great learning experience with the videos and the forum working together    Smile

 

Thanks

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