Re: Mari Broman Olsen (nee Mari Broman)

Jonathan Robie (
Tue, 10 Dec 1996 15:48:38 -0500


At 02:33 PM 12/10/96 -0500, Don Wilkins wrote:
>At 8:56 PM 12/9/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:

>We probably shouldn't get into this too deeply without an official ipsa
>dixit (as you yourself indicated previously), but there is obviously need
>for conclusive (or at least convincing) proof. If she can not offer it,
>then we should view her approach as theory subject to testing and

I'm somewhat reluctant to agree to this statement until someone can tell me
what an ipsa dixit is ;=>

I think that Mari makes precise, provable claims, and that is half the
battle. For instance, she agrees with others that the sense of the word
interacts with the tense to determine time reference, but she also says
precisely what she means by that, classifying words by their time sense with
a simple system that makes sense. My feeling is that Mari has offered much
better proof for her claims than did Porter, for instance, and is much more
precise about her claims than the descriptions I find in any Greek Grammar.
We can prove her right or prove her wrong based on the data, and that is
what makes a good theory.

>>Suppose that my NUN examples had been so clear cut that only an idiot could
>>believe that the aorist could possibly have a past reference when combined
>>with NUN in any New Testament text. If that were true, I would think that
>>this discussion would be over by now.
>Ah, now you've gone and uncomplimented me! But you are right in doing it to
>make your point, Jonathan. In the minds of many, no doubt, the discussion
>is over already. If what you are suggesting with NUN is really the case,
>then I suspect we will find it to be true as well for a good many
>extra-biblical examples.

No, Don, I was not calling you an idiot. In fact, I read Acts 4 today, and
found out that *I* am an IDIWTHS, and I don't think that you are, but that's
another story...

And I don't think that the discussion is over at all - I think it is just
beginning. In fact, I'm burning holes in my Gramcord by doing searches to
see what I think of all this. But Mari has certainly done enough to get the
discussion rolling! And until her first book on the subject is published, I
don't think we can expect her to settle all the relevant issues once and for
all - give her one or two lifetimes for that.

>But bear in mind the temptation to cut the gordian knot. If I really have a
>panic button to press whenever I encounter difficult constructions, I'll
>probably use it rather than try to dig deeper for another solution. I don't
>believe Mari's approach can be fairly evaluated merely on the grounds that
>it makes sense in the context, given the fact that other, perhaps more
>painstaking, approaches also make sense.

True, but remember that cutting the Gordian knot was the only reasonable
way. There is also a great temptation to continue trying to untie the
Gordian knot - to keep relying on methods which have shown themselves
incapable of solving the problem. We've had thousands of years to come up
with a clear, consistent model for tense and aspect in Greek, and we haven't
succeeded yet, so why not welcome fresh approaches?

You, Mari, and I all agree that thinking up clever things to search in the
Greek corpus to confirm or disconfirm theories is the way to go. Let's go to

>Then we are back again to the indicative mood, where (as I would argue) the
>imperfect and aorist both have the functioning augment, and both
>essentially refer to past time.

Why do you say that the aorist refers to past time? What examples do you
have that show that the aorist establishes past time without, and sometimes
in contradiction to, other contextual clues?


Jonathan Robie
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