Aspect in Future
firstname.lastname@example.org (Mari Broman Olsen) wrote:
>I suggest that the imperfect is a
>past imperfective, the pluperfect a past perfective, and the perfect a
>present perfective. The future I analyze as tense and not aspect.
There are at least a couple instances of the future in the writings of Paul
that seem to defy sense when one understands them as tense and not aspect.
It is not clear whether Mari Broman Olsen meant to say that she did not find
aspect as a factor in the Greek future or that she simply did not analyze it,
but I hope she and others will bear with me as I mention these two passages
which have I have puzzled over for some time.
In Col. 2:17, Paul uses a periphrastic future in the phrase A( ESTIN SKIA
TWN MELLONTWN. In this context, Paul is talking about various points of the
Jewish Law that false teachers were trying to impose on believers in
Collasae. He is pointing out that they constitute merely a shadow, but that
the substance, or reality of them has to do with Christ. If the paraphrastic
future is taken as tense here, we would have to think that when he uses the
words TWN MELLONTWN Paul is speaking of things that will be revealed in the
future (perhaps at the Parousia?). If we take this future as aspect,
however, we could understand him to be speaking of things that were future
from the standpoint of Old Testament times when they (the laws) were
established. Some translations and commentaries support this interpretation.
Eadie (_Colossians_, ad loc.) says, "The apostle employs ESTI in the
present, not because...the blessings are yet future to the present point of
time; but either because...he gives a definition, or because the apostle
transports himself ideally to a period when ritual Judaism was of Divine
obligation, and when it was really the shadow of things yet to come." C. F.
D. Moule (_The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon_, ad loc.)
translates "which are only a shadow of what was to come..." And Goodspeed
renders it, "That was all only the shadow of something that was to follow..."
1Tim. 2:15 has been interpreted in many ways because its implication, as
usually understood, seems to be that women may be saved by bearing children
(which is not borne out as a general principle in other parts of Scripture)
and also because it is not clear whether MEINWSIN, etc. refers to women or to
the children. If, however, one understands the future SWQHSETAI according to
aspect rather than tense, then "she was to be saved" could very naturally
refer to Eve. The reference that Paul is using here would be Gen. 3:15 (He
began working this part of Genisis in 1Tim. 2:13.). Paul's referring to Eve
in this verse would also agree with the singular of SWQHSETAI. EAN MEINWSIN
EN PISTEI KAI AGAPH KAI AGIASMW META SWFROSUNHS would refer to the children
Eve bore, since Caine was rejected for the murder of his brother and the
Savior finally came through the line of Seth. Understanding 1Tim. 2:15 in
this way, we could see Paul's portrayal of Eve's experience as an example of
how motherhood may be a way to spiritual blessings when the children are
reared in godliness. But it would not constitute a way of *salvation* for
other women, since the promised Savior has already been born.
If these may be legitimately taken as instances of verbs understood
according to aspect rather than strictly according to tense, then the
question arises whether this is a purely Greek construction or if there is
Semitic thought behind it. The Semitic imperfect may have just such a
meaning as I have proposed for these two futures. Besides its imperfect
sense, its meaning may also be future from any aspect in particular. Paul
might think in this way. He uses other expressions that are apparently
colored by his Semitic background. If, however, the expression is common to
Greek, then we should also be able to find it in other Greek writings outside
the Judeo-Christian tradition.