EDOTHE in Mt 28.19
To: b-greek: ;
Subject: EDOTHE in Mt 28.19
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 1994 18:52:59 -0500 (CDT)
> how is one able to know when [EDOTHE] should be so translated
> and when it should be "left" as an aorist in English?
Perhaps we're confusing categories here. I don't think we ought
to assume that any aorist ought to be "left as an aorist in
English." The two languages are quite different at that point.
For one, English doesn't have an aorist, or an equivalent form.
The issue is one of verbal aspect. The aorist simply describes
the event as a whole (perfective aspect). There is no way to
infer time from the aorist form (as is evidenced by the many
uses of the aorist that describe quite a variety of temporal
references, including present, future and timeless). What has
mislead some is that the aorist's aspect is quite natural to
use in a past time (esp. narrative) context--and it frequently
is, but that by no means proves that the aorist is a past tense.
Any decision as to the temporal reference must come from deictic
factors in the context. EDOTHE could (theoretically) be
translated "was given," "is given," "has been given," or "will be
given." The only one the context renders impossible is the future
reference--due to the dia that follows (a command to go would not
likely be predicated on a future reception of power). Greek does
not require (as English does) that we grammaticalize the time.
Jesus simply describes his reception of power as "given." If we
want to ask when it was given, that is a legitimate question,
but one that we answer from the larger context, not from the
verb form used here.
If you want to pursue this question, the classic article is
Frank Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," JBL 19 (1972) 222-31. The
most complete and most recent grammar that treats the aorist is
Stan Porter's "Verbal Aspect" (NY: Lang, 1989) , esp. 182-244.
Rodney J. Decker
Assistant Professor of Greek and Theology
Calvary Theological Seminary, Kansas City
(94-95 sabbatical explains the Univ. of Wisc. address!)