Re: Aspect, Mk. 2:1-12

rod.j.decker@uwrf.edu (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 
>          hearts? 
>     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
>          paralytic--
>     "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
same thing.  

     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?

David Moore