Re: Aorist revisited [was Mari Broman Olsen (nee Mari Broman)]

Philip L. Graber (
Wed, 11 Dec 1996 09:22:09 -0500 (EST)

On Tue, 10 Dec 1996, Paul Zellmer wrote:

> What you would need to show (and you have not yet, other than your
> search with the contradictory clue NUN) are cases where there are no
> other contextual clues AND YET the time is obviously not past. You
> would also have to show this in various gendre. I don't think you will
> find it in the most time-related gendre--narrative. You may find it in
> didactic or (possibly) apocalyptic writings. And, while we are on the
> topic of gendre-related usages, since I have not yet had time to read
> Mari's work, I wonder if her position that the augment had lost it's
> force by the time of the NT Koine would really stand up if she limited
> herself to narratives. Even in English, once we leave narratives, the
> importance of time diminishes. And, in Greek, the aspect appears to be
> stronger than the tense anyway.

It seems Paul, that you have just strengthened Mari's case? What is genre
if not the representation of culturally defined activities (giving
directions, telling stories, etc.)? You have shown that it is not the
"tense" form, but the genre (i.e., the cultural context) that indicates
time--if you use the same form in different genres, it does not indicate
the same "time value" everywhere. That sounds like an argument for saying
that the "tense" forms are not what indicates time after all. In
addition, you say that aorists refer to past time in narrative; but so do
present tense indicative verbs. It would seem to be the genre (i.e., the
context of culture), rather than the "tense" form, that forces the "past
time" understanding. It just happens that Greek uses aorists as the
default (unmarked) verb to carry narrative genre discourse backbone, as
Longacre would call it (I think).

Philip Graber Graduate Division of Religion
Graduate Student in New Testament 214 Callaway Center
Emory University Atlanta, GA 30322 USA