Re: hWN in Acts 1:1

Edgar M. Krentz (
Wed, 30 Oct 1996 17:38:06 -0500

I cannot help responding to this.
>Sigh. Why should it be so tough for you professor types?

Precisely because human language is not as consistent as some of the
discussion on b-greek seems to assume. At times I feel we are over-pressing
syntax, asking for more specificity than the discussion of cases or tenses
allows. All grammatical categories are impositions on ancient language by
>What we little Greeks really want is an instant answer that is authoritative
>and correct, without all this technical detail and ambiguity ;->

Let me illustrate by sticking my oar in where it will probably be snapped
off. I find the discussion of the "default aorist" oversimplified as I have
followed it. One ought not assume that the same tense is the "default
tense" in all verbs. Instead one should ask for each verb, what is the
default stem? And one test of that is to ask when stem is used in the
infinitive most often FOR EACH VERB.

That is how descriptive linguistics ought to proceed, IMHO. Often it will
be the shorter stem, eg *BAL-, not *BALL-, for which a speaker reaches. Do
speakers instinctively reach for the shorter form, e.g. which infinitive
would one reach for: AGAGEIN or AGEIN (from AGW)? Would one use hAIEIN or
hELEIN (a verb which appears to be defective in its aorist stem.)?

I think that one should not use the indicative forms to determine the
default tense, but rather, especially, infinitives, subjunctives, and
optatives, since they do not have the temporal prefixes or infixes.

In short, I am suspicious of all [over-] generalizations, since language is
not as consistent as some of this discussion seems to imply. At least, that
is how I was taught to work by Saul Levin in comparitive linguistics and
the comparative grammar of Greek and Latin.

I look forward to responses from the grammarians on this list,

Edgar Krentz, New Testament OR *****
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
1100 East 55th Street
TEL.: 773-256-0752 FAX: 773-256-0782