Presupposition and [E]motion

The Upgraded Function and the Semantics of the Participle in the New Testament

by Roque N. Albuquerque (Author)
©2020 Monographs XVIII, 280 Pages


Presupposition and [E]motion examines the modal semantics of presupposition in the New Testament. It argues that presupposition is the imaginative or mental exercise done by the reader or hearer to reflect, complement, or react among other features to what is being said. The book contends that the two major categories of mood, epistemic (+ assertion [Realis]) and deontic (-assertion [Irrealis]), must be seen in opposition to each other, and both together must be seen in opposition to the participle as well as to the infinitive. Ultimately, the book suggests, the importance of differentiating semantics from pragmatics, at the same time combining them within a specific context, is the key to understand the pragmatic effect of the upgraded participle.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Dedication
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Preface
  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Definition of Terms
  • The History of the Upgraded Participle
  • Neglect of the Upgraded Function of the Participle
  • Absence of Definitive Guidelines
  • The Purpose of the Study
  • The Method of the Study
  • Ramifications of the Study
  • Summary of the Study
  • Chapter Two: Participle as Semantic Presupposition
  • A Theory of Grammar
  • Systemic Functional Linguistics
  • Verbal Aspect, Modal Semantic and SFL: Caveat and Implementation
  • Semantics and Pragmatics: Closed and Open Systems in Linguistics
  • The Study of Register
  • Presupposition
  • Semantic and Pragmatic Presupposition
  • The Study of Presupposition
  • Presupposition and Given-New/Theme-Rheme
  • Presupposition as Shared Information
  • Chapter Three: Greek Participles: Modulation Versus Modality and Mood
  • Function and Form: Semiotic Component and Functional Component
  • Assertive and Non-assertive Attitudes
  • Modulation: Participle a Quasi-Modality
  • Chapter Four: Functions of the Participle
  • Background Function
  • Background: Theory of Verbal Aspect and the Aorist Adverbial Participles
  • Aspect of the Participle
  • A New Approach in the Analysis of the Participle
  • Prioritizing Function
  • Markedness and Modulational Prioritizing Function
  • Aorist Participle: Background/Prioritization and Clause Chain
  • Greek Participles and [E]motion
  • Emotion and the Readers ≠ Participle and Emotion
  • Upgraded Effect and [E]motion
  • Chapter Five: Semantics of the Upgraded Participle
  • The Upgraded Participle in the New Testament
  • Structure of the Upgraded Participle: Grammar
  • Word Order with the Upgraded Participle
  • Grammatical (Morphological, Structural)
  • Contextual
  • Structure of the Upgraded: Pragmatics
  • Functions of the Upgraded Participle
  • Prioritizing Function
  • Background Function
  • Upgraded Participle and Verbs of Motion
  • The Upgraded Participle in the LXX
  • Upgraded Function with Verbs of Motion in the LXX
  • Semantics of the Anarthrous Aorist Participial Clause Preceding the Main Action in the LXX
  • The Upgraded Participle in Classical Greek
  • Chapter Six: Examination of New Testament Examples of the Upgraded Participle
  • Valid Examples with the Indicative Mood
  • Valid Examples with the Subjunctive Mood
  • Valid Examples with the Imperative Mood
  • Valid Examples with the Infinitive Modulation
  • Chapter Seven: Conclusion
  • Appendix
  • Bibliography
  • Reference Index
  • Subject Index
  • Name Index

←x | xi→

←xii | xiii→


In addition to the standard SBL abbreviations, the following have been used.

←xiv | xv→


My first contact with the “Porter Fanning debate” was presented by the late Dr. Rodney Decker in our Advanced Greek class in the Summer of 2010 at Central Seminary in Minneapolis. Dr. Decker had assigned me to write a paper on the so-called “attendant circumstance participle” according to the new researches on verbal aspect and systemic linguistics. I decided on that time to develop that paper to be my Ph.D. dissertation. Dr. Decker never saw my final work, but he was the first one to direct me to the subject. After participating in his class, I came away convinced that verbal aspect was important for the advance of the New Testament exegesis, but also that modal semantics could contribute to the semantic studies of the Greek Language.

This book, then, is an update of my Ph.D. dissertation submitted to Central Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis in 2013. I changed my main presupposition about the typical context for the use of the Greek participle. By analyzing the concept of register in systemic functional linguistics I came to conclude prematurely that when the context of the situation presents any kind of emotion, the participle is the preferable form adopted by the author/writer to utter a specific meaning, that is, emotion. Dr. Buist Fanning, my dissertation external examiner, tried to point that out to me, but I was not able to tackle that issue at that time. Later on, I reformulated my main thesis about the upgraded participle specifically and all the Greek participles in general. My conclusion is that the author/writer ←xv | xvi→has so many options available to him for uttering a meaning if the context of the situation involves emotion. He can use factive adjectives, factive verbs, emotional lexis, and the like, however, when the author chooses to use a participle in a context of the situation in which he wants to describe some sort of emotion, the participle is one of the most fascinating options since by its nature, they invite the reader to get involved ideationally within the context of the situation. By the choice of the participle, the writer is demanding the participation of the readers in the discourse at hand. If a given context involves emotion, the participles draw the reader into that environment.

Finally, I need to express how much I am thankful for guidance, interaction, and a shared love for the Greek language from Dr. Jon Pratt, vice president of academics and professor of New Testament at Central Seminary. Dr. Buist M. Fanning (Dallas Theological Seminary), also deserves thanks for his contribution. I could see so many times where he would disagree with me, but his kindness and Christian humility taught me a lot. There are other who contributed to the completion of this book and I would be remiss if I did not express my heartfelt gratitude to my dear friends Jeff Scott, and Craig Muri. I am so thankful for the review of my first draft by Alli Balts as well.

Roque N. Albuquerque
December 2019
UNILAB – Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil

←xvi | 1→



The semantics of the participle, that is, presupposition, has such as a suitability that begs for the readers experiential participation to construe meaning in context. The range of the participial function is too big to be dealt with here, therefore, we decided to select the upgraded participles as a case proof for the semantics and the several functions of the participles.

One of the more confusing, and therefore, misunderstood functions of participles in New Testament Greek is the upgraded function.1 The upgraded function is related to the anarthrous (adverbial or predicate) aorist participle in the nominative that precedes the main clause.2 The participle in this function refers to an action that is so connected with the action of the main verb that the two are seen as one process/action. The main characteristic of this function of the participle is that the aorist participle becomes so associated with the main verb that the “mood”3 of the participle is upgraded into the same mood of the main verb, whether an imperative, indicative, subjunctive or infinitive.4 Although the following examples will be discussed later with full semantic range, here they are presented as an illustration.5

Matthew 2:13 Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾽ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ λέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό (And having departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up [and] take the Child and His ←1 | 2→mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him”).

The author could have chosen to coordinate the two clauses (embedded and nuclear) with a καί, but the meaning and its effect could be slightly different, if he or she would have chosen to use a participle with καί, or even use a participle following the main verb without any other term in between as the example above. So, the choice of a nominative participle in a given structure can concede to the embedded participial clause a very suitable function because the participle is a semantic presupposition. What that means is that the participle is reader-oriented, in such a way that it’s use always occurs as an invitation to readers to participate in an imaginative way, whether getting involved emotionally with the context or filling some relationship between all the parts of the discourse.

The nominative participle in the upgraded structural function is so remarkable as a semantic presupposition that its use makes the reader in his or her mind to take the nominative participle as being in the same mood of the main/nuclear verb. This is a mental effect as a result of the semantics of the participles in a given structure. The semantics of the participles is presupposition, and it will always be a presupposition in contrast with mood or Greek modality.

The context of the situation and the specific structure in the relationship between the embedded clause and the main clause, in this specific function and structure of the participle is very self-evident that the participle is a grammatical presupposition. The participle is always a semantic presupposition independent of any context or co-text. The structure of the participles and their relationship with the main verb can vary establishing so many intriguing meanings that makes the participles the most fascinating subject matter in the study of Greek language.

In the example above, we note that as the angel is speaking to Joseph, the participle ἐγερθείς relates to the imperative παράλαβε, creating a clause chain. The participle (ἐγερθείς) here is grammatically subordinated to the main clause in the imperative (παράλαβε). The participle is an anarthrous aorist participle that precedes the main clause in the imperative. Due to several reasons, as we will show later, this aorist nominative participle adopts, from a translational perspective, the same mood of the main clause, that is, an imperative.

The context of the situation shows a sort of urgency that the character who is listening to the command of the angel, understood the emergency and took the nominative participle in a specific structural relationship as having the modal domain of the imperative. Therefore, the semantic explanation for such possibility is that the Greek participle is a grammatical presupposition that helps an author/speaker to involve the readers/hearers in the cultural environment of the discourse.

←2 |

The nominative participle could logically be taken as some kind of temporal relationship with the main, but the occurrence of νυκτός (genitive—time during the night) in verse 14, and the urgency of the context of the situation, not only eliminates the possibility of translating ἐγερθείς as a temporal adverb like “after you have risen,” or “when you rise,” but also shows the emergency of this command.6

The word order or structure of the clauses can change the logical mental relation between the nominative participle and the main verb. The relation between both can be temporal. For example, Eph. 1:20 “Ἣν ἐνήργησεν ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ ἐγείρας αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν καὶ καθίσας ἐν δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις (… “which he exercised in Christ [when] he raised/by raising him from the dead”). It can be causal, for example, Matt. 1:19 “Ἰωσὴφ … δίκαιος ὢν …” (“Joseph … [because] he was a righteous man …”). These are just some examples, and so many other could be pointed out such as conditional participles, concessive participles, telic participles, and so on.

The verbal stems, the position of the participle in relation to the main verb and so many other features help the readers/hearers to interact with the discourse. This is only possible because the participles are semantic presuppositions that allow the readers to move on to get involved to fill some of the nuances of the discourse by relating the participles with the other parts of the clause obtaining different functions of them.

Back to the context of the situation of Matthew chapter 2, in verse 14. In verse 13, the same anarthrous nominative aorist participle preceding the main verb occurs, but now the main verb is an indicative, that is, “ὁ δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβεν τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς καὶ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον.” (“And he got up [and] took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt.”). Rather than translate it as “Get up” (2:13), here the participle is upgraded to the same notion described by the indicative mood (… he got up [and] took).

The main reason why the nominative participle can be taken as an imperative in verse 13 and in the same type of structure can be taken as an indicative in verse 14 is because its semantics. As a presupposition the author/speaker is bringing the participants of the discourse, both immediate (listeners) and distant (readers) to take a part in this drama by giving priority to what is stated without losing track of the color that embellishes what is to be presupposed.

Another example that has some exegetical implication is Matthew 28:19 “πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος” (“Go, then, [and] disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”).7

←3 | 4→

The main verb is an aorist imperative μαθητεύσατε (disciple) which is then complemented by three anarthrous participles—one that precedes (aorist πορευθέντες [going]) and two that follow (present βαπτίζοντες8 [baptizing] and present διδάσκοντες [teaching]). What all these participles have in common is their semantics. They are hearers/readers oriented. The author/speaker could have chosen two coordinates clauses, but taking language as reflection, he chooses a nominative participle, and all the other choices that involve the participles in this construction contribute to how and which role the participants is to take in the reading process.

The upgraded function is more helpful in this passage to illustrate the semantic feature of the participle because its particular phenomenon that makes the reader/listener to move the participle in a very close semantic relationship with the main verb that causes the reader to take it as in the same mood or modality of the nuclear verb.

The focus for the sake of clarity is on πορευθέντες because its semantic function makes the reader to upgrade the participial clause as mentally coordinated with the main clause and having the same mood or modality of the nuclear clause. Why is that possible? It is not that the nominative participle leaves its participial nuance, rather, it where the participial semantics can be clearly seen.

For instance, there are two extreme views regarding this participle: 1) there is a tendency to render πορευθέντες as an imperative so that the great commission is not seen as a great suggestion.9 2) there are others that de-emphasized πορευθέντες so strongly to the point of omission in translation. Paul Gaechter purposes this omission when he says that “ ‘Geht’ hat also keinen eigenen Akzent und ist darum nicht wörtlich zu übersetzen.”10

As will be seen, the anarthrous aorist nominative participle that precedes the main clause and has the upgraded effect is not to be weakened to a secondary, unimportant option.11 On the other hand, it should not be seen as equally important, since not all actions are equal, and that is one of the most significant functions of the aorist participle. Therefore, a right understanding of the upgraded function has important exegetical implications for the interpreter, but it is of paramount importance to master its semantics in order to grasp it in its full meaning.

The thesis of our book is that factive presupposition is the semantics of all Greek participles, and the upgraded participial effect is a good study case to prove it, since its pragmatic effect illustrates the suitability of this semantic category.

Linguists typically take the idea of factive verbs to be a matter of presupposition and we will analyze it in chapter two. Here however, considering the adverbial participial clause, two main questions are asked: first, how does the participle relate to factivity? Second, what does factive presupposition means in this study?

←4 | 5→

The relation of the aorist nominative participle as factive presupposition involves the relation of the adverbial participial clause to the main clause. The majority of secondary embedded clauses in Greek are participial and infinitival clauses. Our goal is to deal with the semantics of the participles as a whole, and the upgraded effect as a case study.

Semantic classifications of the participle are connected to the semantic classifications of the adverbial clauses. Adverbial clauses have traditionally been based on the relation between the secondary clause and the primary clause. Recently, Hengeveld established a new semantic classification by applying four parameters.12 In his first approach, he proposes only two parameters for the adverbial clauses, Entity Type and Factivity.13 Thus, this study will use the factivity parameter as it deals with the adverbial participle in Greek. Again, all Greek participles (adjectival or adverbial = adjuncts) are a grammatical factive presupposition, which is an important category to understand the participles after verbal aspect.

One of the main distinctives of factivity is its semantic characteristic of introducing a presupposition of which the embedded clause expresses a true proposition. According to Kiparsky and Kiparsky, “the speaker presupposes that the embedded clause expresses a true proposition and makes some assertion about that proposition.”14 In other words, factive predicator has the property of implicating the presupposition from which the completive proposition is factual (it expresses the fact that the completive clause is true).15 Language does not necessarily indicate what an author believes or what is true. In the case of the participle, it invites the readers to take the presupposition as such for the sake of his point at hand.

Lightfoot seems to be the first one to attempt to distinguish the participle and the infinitive on this base. He explains the supposed difference with the participle as a complement, the so-called complementary use of the participle.16 The way he distinguishes the participle from the infinitive is because the participle “is used only where the truth or actuality of the complement clause is presupposed to be true by the speaker or author.”17 He holds that in a choice between a participle and an infinitive, the choice of the participle should be made if the presupposed truth claim of the proposition is in view. He presents several passages involving infinitives and participles and concludes that the participle has a clearer “factual” presupposition than does the infinitive.18

The argument is not about facts or truth in itself, but language as a tool to establish the linguistic “reality” or the imaginative world that language can create as the reader is drawn into the discourse knowing what his/her part in that specific context is.

For example, Luke 8:46 “ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· ἥψατό μού τις, ἐγὼ γὰρ ἔγνων δύναμιν ἐξεληλυθυῖαν ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ” (“But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I know ←5 | 6→that power has gone out from me’ ”). The semantic uniqueness of the complements of verbs of perception is that the nominative participial clause is used when the author is trying to communicate a direct perception. It is language creating reality to set an interaction between the readers and the text or speech.

In this complex clause “power has gone out from me” is the complement of the secondary clause with a verb of perception (for I know …). From Lightfoot’s perspective, the speaker in this case presupposes the proposition “power has gone out from me” to be true. Truthfulness of this proposition does not seem to be the main point, the use of a participle as a complement of the verb of perception is more reader-oriented in order to draw him or her to connect the main clause with the secondary clause. The author could have used two finite forms, but by using a verb of perception and the participle as a complement of this type of verb, the semantic rule of the participle followed by the syntax of verbs of perception indicates that the author wants the reader/hearer to take the participial clause as uttering a direct perception of the event described.

“Power has gone out” and the context of situation shows the healing domain and every reader is able to put the two clauses together in a sort of hierarchy—the assertion (I know) and the presupposition attested by the reader/hearer that “power has gone out.” The semantic of the participle helps reader to participate in the interpretative role of the discourse.


XVIII, 280
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (March)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XVIII, 280 pp., 10 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Roque N. Albuquerque (Author)

Roque N. Albuquerque is a full-time faculty member at the University for International Integration of the Afro-Brazilian Lusophony (UNILAB) in the Institute of Linguistics and Literature in Ceará State. He holds a Ph.D. in New Testament from Central Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis and in Language Studies from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN). He has taught Greek and New Testament for the past twenty years. His postdoctoral research is in the Greek comedy of Aristophanes with Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


Title: Presupposition and [E]motion