Re.: Default aorist

Rod Decker (
Fri, 1 Nov 1996 07:30:15 -0500

>take exception to the notion of the aorist as occasionally future-referring.
>I've already argued that the sequence of events is the important factor and
>that evaluating the actual timing of an event can be tricky. If a case is
>really going to made for futurity of some aorist indicatives, then I would
>like to see some convincing examples. Jude 14--a prophetic context?--hardly
>serves the purpose.

Why not?

>John 13:31 is more interesting with the NUN, but this
>can be understood as events that are in the immediate past (one of a few ex-
>planations possible that do not require a reference to the future). In v. 32
>moreover, we find the future used twice, the second with EUQUS, which not
>only suggests a distinction to the aorists in question but also reveals
>the fine distinctions possible in the immediate past, present and future.

I will punt here for time's sake: the ff. is cited from p. 203 of my
article in _Trintity Journal_ (16ns [1995]: 187-217, "The Semantic Range of
'nun' in the Gospels as Related to Temporal Deixis").

<quote>Wherefore when he [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, "The Son of Man
is about to be glorified and God is about to be glorified in him; and if
God is glorified in him, then God will glorify him in himself, and at once
he will glorify him." This statement, as much of the Upper Room Discourse,
points clearly to the Cross. The immediacy of the language (nun, euqus)
points to the climax that has been building relentlessly throughout the
past months of Jesus' ministry, pointed out most recently in the previous
chapter with Jesus' statement that the hour had come (12:23). As Carson
expresses it, "it is almost as if, now that Judas has gone, the last
barrier to the onset of the impending 'hour' has been removed, and Jesus
signals the development: God will glorify the once" [_John_, 482].
The language must refer forward: nun here is best understood as "is about
to be."<unquote>

I would suggest that the future in v. 32 _supports_ the future ref. of v.
31 as a parallel ref., not a contrast. The refs. to glorification make best
sense in these two verses if understood as the same event: the cross. I.e.,
there are two different glorifications in view, but only one, referred to
with both aorist forms (viewing the event as a whole) and future forms
(specifying expectation in future time).

>And unless I am missing something important (my grasp of the obvious is not
>always astute), citing a few debatable examples of odd uses of this or that
>grammatical feature as proof that the feature on the whole can not be under-
>stood as we understand it the vast majority of the time is like arguing that

My intention was not to 'prove' that aorists can be future referring; only
to cite a few instances of such. I don't have sufficient (personal temporal
deictical?!) bandwidth to attempt that here and now. That will be part of a
dissertation one day, DV, but it is only in proposal stage at this point.


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