An Introduction to Heterosis

Heterosis is a change in the inflections of the parts of speechOpens in new window which involves the use of one genderOpens in new window, numberOpens in new window, caseOpens in new window, personOpens in new window, moodOpens in new window, or tenseOpens in new window for another. This is especially active with verb tenses in which the present tenseOpens in new window is often used in narrating the past and the future.

E. W. BullingerOpens in new window recognized that a future event was sometimes referred to in the past tense as if it had already occurred and named thus as the figure heterosis (using the past tense for the present), with it comes several examples in the Bible.

    For example, in Eph. 2:6:
  • “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places because we are united with Christ Jesus.”

Here, the verb “seated” is in the aorist tenseOpens in new window, as if the event (whereby we sit in the heavenly places) had already occurred, even though actual sense we have not yet been seated in heaven. This is the figure “Heterosis” put into action here.

Further Readings:
George Winfred Hervey, A System of Christian Rhetoric | For the Use of Preachers and Other Speakers Opens in new window
Desiderius Erasmus | Collected Works of Erasmus, Volumes 23-24 Opens in new window
RevisedEnglishVersion.com | Commentary for: Ephesians 2:6 Opens in new window