Re: 'default' aorist

Somi Chuhon (
Sat, 26 Oct 1996 21:20:58 -0700

At 04:17 PM 10/25/96 -0700, you wrote:
>This is an old issue that has been worked into the ground and subsequently
>dug up and reworked again, so I'll try to avoid making to big a deal about
>it as I throw in my two obols. (typo, to = too)
>The first point I would make is that the aorist *is* the default tense for
>moods other than the indicative, and all the Greek teachers on this list have
>undoubtedly faced the challenge of explaining this many times. There is no
>default tense for the indicative mood, though, because "tense" as a desig-
>nation of time does have real meaning for the indicative. Whether we should
>speak of "aspect" all the time vis-a-vis "tense" is (in my opinion) an in-
>soluble issue. Understanding aspect is very important, and the concept applies
>to all the moods, but the indicative is in a way the default mood and certain-
>ly the most prevelant one.
>My second point includes a question for all interested parties. Another old
>argument is that "aorist" means "undefined" (the source for the "default"
>theory, I infer), based on an etymological analysis of the name itself. But
>I think attempts to define the aorist in this way, and/or to say what it can
>and can not do based on the etymological analysis of "aorist" are ill-con-
>ceived. Some time ago I ran a TLG search for "aorist" and came up virtually
>empty: the word occurred in grammatical contexts a few times, but I don't
>remember finding any enlightening comments. That brings me to the question:
>do any of you (Carl, Ed, Carlton, or others) have any solid definitions of
>the aorist from antiquity?

I would be very interested in any of this information if it is available.

>At the bottom line, I think an understanding of the aorist and of all the
>other grammatical distinctions in Greek depends on a careful reading of the
>texts. I don't know for sure whether some of the NT grammarians are really
>basing their analyses on "modern" linquistics or something as tenuous as the
>etymologies of special terms, but to do so at the expense of carefully reading
>the texts (if that is what is being done in any case) is unadulterated folly.
>Don Wilkins
>UC Riverside

Thanks so much, Don. I am encouraged to look into this further. I am
especially grateful to read your comment that our "grammatical distinctions
in Greek depends on a careful reading of the texts." I guess it is
difficult to know how far we are to go from our own "grammatical-grid" of
English into a proper understanding of Greek grammar! I guess that's why we
study it so much !! :) :)

-----------oooO-(. .)-Oooo--------------------------------
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any other powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to seperate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38,39