Aspect of oida

The following is an excerpt from my (much longer) summary of 
Porter's _Verbal Aspect_ (spec. pp. 281-87). See previous msg. re. 
Mark 2 for the reason for posting it here.

Because of the unique form and use of oida Porter includes several 
pages to explain how this verb fits into his aspectual system. 
After summarizing several recent studies on the relation between 
oida and ginwskw (de la Potterie, Burdick, Silva--which this 
synthesis will skip), he suggests several conclusions. First, oida 
is to be viewed as the perfect opposition to eidon from the root 
*eidw and "therefore is to be treated as a genuine Perfect" (283) 
rather than as aspectually vague or as a present [traditionally: 
perfect form, present meaning--but this implies a temporal 
conception of the form]. This suggests that although it will often 
be translated as a present in English, it carries the full 
aspectual weight of the perfect: stative. "The criterion of 
translation proves deceptive to understanding the Greek verb, 
since...identical temporal implicature in no way determines meaning" 

Second, "oida offers no semantic choice in the Passive" because it 
never developed a passive or a middle/passive form. If a passive 
form was needed to express the concept of knowing, ginwskw had to 
be used by default [though there are only 13 passives of gn. in 
the NT (out of 222 uses)].

Third, where there is verbal opposition, "it is legitimate to 
posit a lexical semantic difference" (284). In this regard Porter 
evaluates Erickson's suggestion as an insufficiently rigorous 
treatment of the aspectual question and as "highly suspect" in 
regard to lexis. McKay's distinction is "far more useful." This 
defines the perfect form egnwka as a state of knowledge with 
reference to its acquisition and the perfect form oida as also 
referring to a state of knowledge but with no reference to its 
acquisition (285). The two terms are thus in hyponymous relation 
with ginwskw as the superordinate term. [See Silva, _Biblical 
Words and Their Meaning_, 126-27 for a detailed explanation of 
these terms. The chart below summarizes the essence of them.]

   ____________      _____________________________
  |            |    |           ginwskw           |
  |  flower    |    |   ________       ________   |
  |  _______   |    |  | oida   |     | egnwka |  |
  | | rose  |  |    |  |________|     |________|  |
  | |_______|  |    |_____________________________|

"This incorporates the non-contiguous availability of verbal 
aspect in the tenses, includes both terms within the sphere of 
verbs of knowing, distinguishes them along the lines of whether 
reference is made to the means of acquisition, and is able to 
handle contexts both where reference to acquisition of knowledge 
is referred to (using ginwskw) and where it is not (using ginwskw 
or oida)" (285). As just one example (of eight discussed), Porter 
provides the following explanation of John 21:17.

   There is no formal criterion for making a distinction in John 
   21:17: Kurie, panta su oida, su ginwskei hoti philw se (lord, you 
   know everything, you know that I love you). John writes that "you 
   are in a state of knowledge without reference to its acquisition," 
   and he elucidates this with a specification introduced by a 
   contrastive, less heavily marked aspect, "you are in progress 
   knowing that I love you." Although ginwskw may simply be used 
   stylistically to avoid repetition or to allow emphasis to fall on 
   the hoti clause, the context seems to indicate another reason for 
   its use. Whereas the lord's knowledge with reference to the cosmos 
   is seen as unlimited and not requiring reference to its 
   acquisition, the second clause specifies knowledge that the lord 
   has regarding Peter, acquired through Peter's being a follower. 

In other words, the difference is first of all aspectual: perfect 
tense/stative vs. present tense/imperfective. But since oida is 
chosen deliberately, there is a second difference in that Peter 
chooses not to refer to how Jesus knows all things. Jesus' reply, 
according to Porter, does imply reference to the acquisition of 
knowledge: Jesus' (human) knowledge gained from Peter's 
companionship. <1>

The following chart is a development of material suggested by 
Porter's discussion; neither the chart nor the conclusions below 
are Porter's. (Statistics come from acCordance.)

Occurrences          _______*eidw__________
in NT (#)  ginwskw  |  oida        eidon   | horaw    blepw
           to know   see mentally  to see   to see   to see
Present      80          0          0         20        127
Imperfect     5          0          0          0          2
Aorist       97          0        340@        25$         3
Perfect      21        284+         0         34          0
Future       18          1          0         34          2
Pluperfect    1         32          0          1          0

@ = eidon (active only)
+ = oida
$ = passive only (all other forms include all voices found)

Only where there are opposing forms may a distinction be 
suggested. I.e., there is no difference between ginwskw and oida 
in present, imperfect, and aorist (because there is no meaningful 
opposition), and probably not in future or pluperfect; there may 
be legitimate distinction in the perfect forms. With horaw and 
blepw a similar pattern is evident: distinction might be possible 
in the present but not in the imperfect, perfect, or pluperfect, 
and probably not in the aorist and future. 

Note: <1> Should this distinction require that the second phrase 
have used egnwka? Porter's conclusion seems to suggest that either 
the use of egnwka or the juxtaposition of oida with (any?) form of 
ginwskw is significant.

Rod Decker
Calvary Theological Seminary
Kansas City, MO