Aktionsart and Temporality

rod.j.decker@uwrf.edu wrote:

>The temporal nature of the augment has been strongly challenged. (See 
>elaboration following.) I'd hesitate to use "punctilliar" to describe 
>the aorist since that has been misunderstood as referring to 
>instantaneous, once-for-all action. The type of action is better 
>described under the rubrics of Aktionsart (or as Fanning would prefer, 
>"procedural characteristic") and hinges on lexis rather than verb form. 

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     In saying that EDOQH in Mat. 28:18 could be understood in a temporal
sense, I did not mean to imply that a sense of _Aktionsart_ is not present in
the indicative.  What I wrote may not have made my understanding on that
point completely clear.  

     I appreciate the references to Porter and Fanning, I'll look into them
when I get a chance.  I'll not comment on their work at this time, but would
like to mention something that Blass says, from a historical perspective on
the Greek language, regarding the temporal augment.  He states that past time
(from the standpoint of the speaker) was often originally expressed by a
particle placed before the verb.  Over the course of time, this particle
became a prefix to the verb itself, thus becoming the "so-called augment."
 He also says that the *temporal* *sense* of the unaugmented forms of the
indicitive (i.e. in the present and the perfect) "grew out of the contrast to
the augmented forms" (Blass-DeBrunner, #318).  If Blass is right in this
historical information, it should not be surprising to find a temporal
meaning - at least to some extent - in these indicative forms.  

     Of course, interpretation must always be responsive to context.  (Is
that what you mean by "lexis"?  I wasn't able to find the word in my
Webster's Unabridged.)  Although it is probably safe to say that some idea of
the temporal is normally present in verbs in the indicative mood, this should
not be taken to rule out all sense of _Aktionsart_.  The context must dictate
how we balance these factors.

    Some of the passages cited in reference to this question call for
comment.  In some cases, well known principles of interpretation dictate what
temporal sense a verb should take.  In Mk. 11:27 ERCONTAI is cited as a use
of the present indicative in a past sense, but this is a well known usage
called "the historical present," and the context always gives clear
indications of the usage.  On Mat. 26:18 PROS SE _POIW_ TO PASCA META TWN
MAQHTWN MOU, cf. Spanish, in which the present indicative is often used for
the future when the future event or action is considered very certain or when
plans are detailed.  I mention this Spanish usage because it is commonly
paralleled in the Greek of the NT. 

     In certain cases, there may be reasonable alternatives to the
translation that Rodney cites.  In Luke 16:4 where the unrighteous steward
says _EGNWN_ TI POIHSW we may have a usage that Moulton & Milligan (s.v.
GINWSKW) note from a second-century B.C. papyrus which gives GINWSKW the
meaning of "determine."  M&M call it a "(classical)" usage, and L&S (s.v.
GINWSKW) do cite it also from cLassical sources.  The meaning in Lk 16:4 may
be something like "I have decided what to do" (so RSV).  Our tendency to
translate "I know" for the aorist EGNWN here may come more from our English
thought patterns than from the exigencies of the Greek.  Compare the Spanish
of the Nacar-Colunga "_Ya se lo que he de hacer_" (something like, "I already
know what I must do").  On John 17:14, (EMISHSEN) and v. 18 (APESTEILA),
there is not the time or space to do a complete exegesis of these verses in
this post, but a perusal of the translations finds few that use a future for
these aorist indicatives.  In Eph. 5:29, in OUDEIS GAR POTE THN E(AUTOU SARKA
_EMISHSEN_, it seems obvious that Paul's use of the aorist EMISHSEN is in
answer to the use of POTE which implies past time, however we may translate
the clause.

     The perfect indicative OIDAMEN in Mat. 21:27 conforms to the usual use
of this and certain other verbs when employed in the perfect.  One might even
say that, in the NT, the form OIDA-  is purely present and durative except on
some ocasions in the 3rd person singular.  (See also Robertson 894-95.)
 Again, in the case of James 5:2, a perusal of the translations shows that a
translation in future sense of the perfects SESHPEN and (SHTOBRWTA) GEGONEN
is indeed rare.  Second Peter 2:19, W( GAR TIS H(TTHTAI, TOUTW DEDOULWTAI,
and 1Jn. 3:14, METABEBHKAMEN EK TOU QANATOU EIS THN ZWHN, contain examples of
what Blass calls, "The perfect used to denote a continuing effect..."
(Blass-DeBrunner #342).  So it may not be correct to see them as simply

     Having said the foregoing, let me make clear that I do not reject the
idea of _Aktionsart_ in the indicative.  Aktionsart_ and temporality should
not be thought of as mutually exclusive, since _Aktionsart_ is probably never
completely absent from any Koine verbal construction.  But, IMO, that "Greek
does not grammaticalize temporal reference at all...", is overstated, and
this becomes clear if one takes into account the augmented forms in the
indicative mood (not to mention constructions with the aorist participle).
 Rodney seems very convinced of the non-temporal position; many of the
translations cited in his post presuppose that it is valid.  Certainly, I
still have much to learn about NT Greek, but a wholesale denial of temporal
sense to all gramatical constructions seems neither helpful nor realistic.  

David L. Moore