Re: Aspect, Mk. 2:1-12
firstname.lastname@example.org (Rodney Decker) writes:
>I just finished working through Mark 2:1-12 and would be
>interested in any reactions to my preliminary conclusions. The
>interest here is particularly the use of the present
>form/imperfective aspect (aphientai, v. 5) to describe
>forgiveness, which one would almost expect to be phrased
>with an aorist. Voelz's article in Neotestamentica that I
>mentioned earlier selects this as one of the examples to
>challenge Porter's explanation of aspect.
>(English text is NRSV)
>1. The aorist carries the narrative flow of events (background):
> he returned
> it was reported
> many gathered
> they removed the roof
> Jesus saw their faith
> Jesus perceived
> he stood up
> took the mat
> and went out
>2. All the conversation is recorded with the present form
>(foreground) (exceptions are noted with [ ] ):
> he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
> "Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! >
Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
> he said to them, "Why do you raise such questions in your
> Which is easier, [to say: A] to the paralytic, 'Your sins
> are forgiven,' or [to say: A], 'Stand up and [take
> your mat: A] and walk'?
> But so that [you may know: R] that the Son of Man has
> authority on earth to forgive sins"--he said to the
> "I say to you, stand up, [take your mat: A] and go to
> your home."
>3. The focal point of the entire passage is expressed with the
>most heavily marked form: perfect (frontground)
> so that you may know (hina de eidHte), v. 10
>4. The clear and distinct function of the perfective and
>imperfective aspects in this passage suggest that further
>explanation is unnecessary. (That does not mean that more
>couldn't be said other than what I've summarized here [e.g., I
>didn't comment on the imperfect form in v. 4], but that the
>reason for the use of the verb forms is adequately explained >by
the discourse function of aspect.)
That's an interesting way of understanding the tenses here.
I'd have understood the perfect EIDHTE as intensive (cf. Dana &
Mantey $184, 1 [who cite Burton]; Robertson, p. 193). Some see
the intensive perfect as applicable to only a handful of verbs,
but it seems to me to have more ample use than that. The idea
proposed above - seeing the perfect as "the most heavily marked
form: perfect (frontground)" - does seem to accomplish about the
I would be really interested to see how you would handle
Mat. 16:19 taking aspect into account. The perfects there have
been translated almost every which way. I had come to the
conclusion that they are intensive: something like "securely
bound" and "set free," but should we suppose that the perfects
mark the focal point of the discourse?