Re.: Default aorist

Rod Decker (
Thu, 31 Oct 1996 12:11:34 -0500

>I decided to try a real example, taken from 1 COr 15:
>Taking what I think Porter is saying (and I could be mistaken) and what
>has been discussed here recently, what can I say about Paul's aorist
>here? Can I at least say they happened in the past?

Not _just_ because they are aorist. (I think that even those who reject
Porter's approach would agree with that, simply because some aorists cannot
be past-referring--even if one views them as infrequent exceptions.)

>Since they are
>plain aorists, without modifiers, like adverbs, I assume I cannot
>determine from them one way or another whether Paul showed up one day
>and preached one time and the Corinthians received it that one time or
>whether Paul preached a lot, many times, and in the course of that, the
>Corinthians received it? Did Paul deliver tradition to them at one
>time, or over time? Can the text here tell us semantically?

No (to your last question), if you are looking _just at the aorist_.
Perfective aspect (i.e., the aorist) simply describes these actions as
whole/entire/complete [though not necess. 'complet_ed_'] w/o specifying

True, there are no grammatical indicators of temporal deixis in this
statement, but that does not mean that there are no deictic factors to
consider. Personal deixis tells us that _Paul_ and _the Corinthians_ are
involved, at which point the wider historical context points out that Paul
had previously preached in Corinth. Without this information, we would not
know for sure whether Paul was describing a past or a future event. Since
most aor. indic. forms _are_ past referring, we might assume that was the
case in these refs., but in itself, that is not, IMHO, determinative. Were
these aorists future-referring (which is not common*), one _would_ expect
clear (deictic) indication to that effect in the context.

[*As just a couple examples of future-referring aorists, note: Jude
14,HLQEN; John 13:31, EDOCASQH.]

And if I can append a note re. Don's comment that:

>You can only read what the writer chooses to write (isn't *that* profound!).

I agree wholeheartedly, though as was noted yesterday, that's not a problem
for postmodernity/reader response/deconstructionaism, etc. :)


Rodney J. Decker, Asst. Prof./NT Baptist Bible Seminary Clarks Summit, PA