This brings up (for me) a further question: Could one render this
verse as "Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were in the habit of fasting
(imperfect). [Some people] (continually from the force of the present) came
(past alluded to by historical present in the narrative) asking (present
relying still on the since of continuation) Jesus, "How...
Rather than making this a one time narrative event, it allows it to
become a doctrinal issue placed in the course of a narrative structure. Is
there any reason to render this verse as though it were a single event in a
historical setting vs. a disputational question that Jesus and the disciples
often encountered, complete with the definitive answer given by Jesus?
A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging;
it is the skin of living thought and changes from day
to day as does the air around us. - Oliver Wendell Holmes