Aspect of perfect in Mt. 16:19

Aspect of perfect in Mt. 16:19

David Moore wrote:

> I would be really interested to see how you would handle
> Mat. 16:19 taking aspect into account...

An interesting question--and not one that I've worked through in 
this regard. I can suggest a couple of things worth considering.

1. Note that this text uses a periphrastic construction. From 
Porter's aspectual perspective, the auxiliary (eimi) "places the 
periphrasis in its proper modal category, while the participle 
conveys its verbal aspect."

In this case that means that estai (future) specifies 
"expectation" and dedemenon &c. (perfect) specifies stative aspect 
(i.e., a state of being bound or loosed).

2. The statement is a 3rd class condition which "posits a 
hypothetical situation and specifies its logical fulfillment."

3. Porter has an article devoted to this exact question that is 
well worth reading: "Vague Verbs, Periphrastics, and Matt. 16:19," 
_Filologia Neotestamentaria_ 1 (1988): 155P73. He also tackles 
some of the theological issues raised, but I'll not raise them in 
this forum. His expanded gloss of the text is as follows:

"Whatever you might bind upon the earth (if such a binding event 
were to occur), this is projected as being in a state of boundness 
in heaven; and whatever you might loose upon the earth shall be in 
a state of loosedness in heaven."

He concludes that "the sense of heaven ratifying earth's 
decision... seems fairly clearly established."

4. In the broader context a similar aspectual discourse structure may be
seen: the pericope is almost entirely aorist form/ perfective aspect; the
more heavily marked present form/imperfective aspect in introduced at
three key junctures in the narrative: the crucial question in v. 13 ("Who
do people _say_ that the Son of Man is?"), the counter question in v. 15
("He _said_ to them, 'But who do you _say_ that I am?"), and to introduce
Jesus' definitive explanation in v. 18 ("I _tell_ you..."). 

(A number of the statements in this passage that one might expect 
to be more heavily weighted use the aspectually vague eimi; there 
are also several nominal sentences that have no explicit aspect.)

Rod Decker
Calvary Theological Seminary
Kansas City