b-greek-digest V1 #590

b-greek-digest            Monday, 27 February 1995      Volume 01 : Number 590

In this issue:

        Re: Lord's prayer


From: "mpalmes@email.unc.edu" <mpalmes_email_unc_edu@access.alt.za>
Date: 25 Feb 95 15:53:45 -0200
Subject: Re: Lord's prayer

From: Micheal Palmer <mpalmes@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: Lord's prayer

On Fri, 24 Feb 1995, James D. Ernest wrote:

> Don't the aorist imperatives in 6:6 intend a habit just as surely as the
> presents in the context?  Perhaps the aorists appears there because of the
> series of concrete actions envisioned.  It seems to me that just about
> every handy generalization on the meaning of these aspects that I've
> ever heard is wrong.  We do should always quash them, because they
> invariably turn up misused in sermons.... (Im My Humble Opinion,
> of course, as always....

Yes, I think you are right about the verbs in 6:6. I don't think this 
would be a problem for Fanning's view, though, since he does NOT argue 
that the present is used in contexts implying action that should become 
characteristic of one's behavior WHILE THE AORIST IS NOT. He argues (and 
I *think* I am representing him correctly here) that the present imperative 
tends to imply action which should become characteristic, while the 
aorist is UNMARKED for this quality. That is, the aorist is neutral on 
this point. Sometimes, however, the context in which an aorist is placed 
will give it an implication which may include customary or habitual 
action, as in 6:6.

In my earlier comment I did not mean to imply that Fanning's approach is 
without problems. Where both Fanning and Stanley Porter succeed IMHO is 
in challenging us to move beyond the traditional explanations of the uses 
of present and aorist imperative (among other things). Both of their 
proposals leave us with a number of problems. I merely suggested that 
Fanning's proposal should be read. A more recent approach which 
interacts creatively with both Fanning and Porter's approach, is the 
dissertation of Mari Olsen, "A Semantic and Pragmatic Model of Lexical 
and Grammatical Aspect" (Northwestern University, 1994). Olsen makes 
clear progress on the issue of verbal aspect by incorporating recent work 
in pragmatics. She also maintains a clear distinction between 'lexical 
aspect' (what individual verbs contribute to the aspect of a particular 
statement) and grammatical aspect (what the tense forms contribute to the 
aspect of a particular statement. This distinction is crucial, since as 
you point out, there are numerous exceptions to any general statement 
made about what a particular grammatical form means. She handles these 
'exeptions' well in terms of the contribution of individual 
verbs--lexical aspect (completely aside from there tense).

Besides this important distinction between lexical and grammatical 
aspect, Olsen is able to give a provocative account of the contribution 
of context (which is what happens in Mt 6:6 set up by SU DE (OTAN 
PROSEUCHI which clearly denotes customary action) by her treatment of 
pragmatics (meaning in context).

Well, my comments on Olsen's dissertation are certainly a gross 
oversimplification of a 368 page document, but I hope she will correct 
any misstatements since (I think) she is on this list. The abstract for 
her dissertation should soon be available on the World Wide Web at 

Micheal W. Palmer
Mellon Research Fellow
Department of Linguistics
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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End of b-greek-digest V1 #590


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