EDOTHE in Mt 28.19


> 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!)