b-greek-digest V1 #926
b-greek-digest Tuesday, 24 October 1995 Volume 01 : Number 926
In this issue:
Re: FYI Hebrew not tenseless
Re: Scientific Greek
Re: Porter on the present
brefh, Luke 18:15
Re: Porter on the present
Re: here's what's wrong with Q
Re: here's what's wrong with Q
From: David Moore <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 15:11:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: FYI Hebrew not tenseless
On Mon, 23 Oct 1995, Vincent DeCaen wrote:
> I noticed that Porter and others appeal to tenseless Hebrew, etc, to
> make the case cross-linguistically viable. let's be clear: Hebrew is
> not tenseless. it became tenseless in the early 1800s under pressure
> from Indo-European studies. basically, Indo-European began supposedly
> from a simpler tenseless system and developed "tense"; fortunately for
> the Romantics, only the Aryans managed this feat, while the rest of
> the world languished in cognitive inferiority, including those
> backwards Orientals (who by right needed to be colonized and pillaged:
> can't make a train on time because they speak tenseless languages,
> and all that).
> the archaeology of tenseless analyses is fascinating, but depressing.
> anyway, two points.
> 1. what makes Hebrew different is a) it has no "perfect"/anterior
> (like most languages, including some European ones like Russian) and
> b) its selection of aspectual privative (cf. Olsen) is imperfective
> (perfective defaulter) vs European perfective (imperfective defaulter).
> the irony is that languages like Greek are in the tiny minority on
> most "parameters".
> 2. the model for Hebrew and Arabic in the 1800s is the foundation for
> tenseless analyses throughout the world, and by simple osmosis is in
> every textbook on TMA. it's simply that the analysis has become
> detached from the theory and motivations of those German Romantics.
> it's easy to show that the aspectual analysis of Hebrew is
> descriptively if not empirically inadequate.
> BTW, I assume a strong claim for Universal Grammar: essentially all
> languages are the same except for the setting of "parameters". I
> assume that TMA systems are essentially the same except for the
> setting of aspectual parameter(s). the major difference is the
> aspectual selection of privatives that Olsen devotes so much space to.
> for what my two-cents is worth.
I sent out a recent post referring to Hebrew as practically
tenseless before I read my mail. When I opened my e-mail folder, your
post caught my eye right away. You say Hebrew is not tenseless, but you
haven't given any instances to show that tense can be a factor in Hebrew.
I'm supposing you have some in mind.
David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District
Miami, Florida of the Assemblies of God
email@example.com Department of Education
From: Will Wagers <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 14:49:55 -0500
Subject: Scientific Greek
Can anyone suggest the best lexicon (or other work) for scientifical
definitions of ancient Greek? (My version of Liddell and Scott omits them,
but I believe the full versions contains them.)
Thanks for your help, Will
From: "JOHN HAYDEN, JEWELL, IA" <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 15:03:33 -0500
Subject: Ephesians 4:11ff
From: hayden 23-OCT-1995 12:41:43.70
Subj: Ephesians 4:11ff
>From: SMTP%"firstname.lastname@example.org" 20-OCT-1995 17:58:25.65
>Subj: Ephesians 4:11ff
>Before I ask my question, I just want to say that it has been a
>privilege to read the mail from this list for the last year and a
>half. It is refreshing to read the many faceted perspectives when
>discussing various biblical passages, and I hope that I too may
>reap the benefits of your input.
>My questions have to do with Ephesians 4:11ff:
>1. Do any of you know any specific resources that focus on the
>historical background to the way these five terms were understood
>in the First Century?
>2. Can "tous de poimenas kai didaskalous" be understood as two
>separate and distinct roles? Many have joined these two together
>(Pastor-teachers). I'm not so sure about this, because it seems
>that Luke may have understood didaskalos in Acts 13:1 as a distinct
>role from that of Elder in Acts 20 (that is if you see Pastor and
>Elder as the same role and function). What do ya'll think.
>Name: Robert D. Barnes
This does not directly address your questions, but I've thought some about
this passage. (Dan Wallace assigned this paragraph to me for NT Exegetical
Methods at Grace in '82.) It seems to me that Paul, in using the MEN...DE
construction, is setting the apostles apart from the other gift-men. If
that is so and if pastor-teacher [pardon my English] IS hyphenated, then what
we have is a series of only THREE gift-men: interpreters, publishers, and
What I find fascinating is the POSSIBILITY that there is parallelism in
the "for," "till," and "that" clauses in vv12-17, vv14-17 being a (is it
possible?) reverse, or chiastic, parallelism like this:
interpreters...for the ordering...till unity...that knit together
publishers...for the work...till knowledge...that speak truth
manager-trainers...for development...till perfect...that no longer children
This view would favor a comma after "...equipping of the saints."
My problem is, partly, that I have no other examples of simple parallelism
juxtaposed with chiasm.
I set this forth (to borrow a Wallacism) "very gingerly."
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 15:31:45 -0500
Subject: Re: Scientific Greek
At 2:49 PM 10/23/95, Will Wagers wrote:
>Can anyone suggest the best lexicon (or other work) for scientifical
>definitions of ancient Greek? (My version of Liddell and Scott omits them,
>but I believe the full versions contains them.)
I think the unabridged LSJ is your only bet. If you have in mind an
investment, there's a brand new LSJM bound with a supplement by Glare that
OUP has just announced, due, I believe, in March. There's a very good $100
price on it for orders placed before 1/31/96, after which it will sell for
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
From: "Philip L. Graber" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 21:28:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Porter on the present
On Mon, 23 Oct 1995, David Moore wrote:
> But in the indicative, we have the augmented
> forms that do appear to usually indicate time. At least many grammarians
> see the temporal augment as a time indicator and as having originated for
> the purpose of expressing time.
As someone has already pointed out, how something originated and what it
means at any given point are not necessarily the same thing.
> Faulty exegesis, may I point out, can grow out of
> any false conception related to the grammar of a language.
This is certainly true. However, a conception that allows for a
substantial number of exceptions is a setup for errors--how does one know
whether any given case is an exception or not? This lends itself to
arbitrary and subjective judgments, the kind of thing you rightly stated
we all want to avoid.
> Since Greek expresses, through grammatical form,
> certain time factors where Hebrew expresses none, how can we say that
> Greek does not grammaticalize time or tense? Could we say, "Greek is
> unmarked for tense, and Hebrew is even more unmarked"?
I don't wish to comment at all on Hebrew. But I would agree with against
Porter that Greek does grammaticalize time--I just don't think that all of
the tense forms grammaticalize time. I agree with Mari on this one. I
think there is much explanatory power in Mari's view that includes present
and aorist forms that do NOT grammaticalize tense (I'm not really sure
about future; it is a real tense in Mari's scheme, along with perfect,
imperfect and pluperfect). In any case, to say that particular forms
(even if they are traditionally labelled as tenses) do not grammaticalize
time is not to say that the language has no resources for
grammaticalizing time. That is another issue.
Philip Graber Graduate Division of Religion
Graduate Student in New Testament 211 Bishops Hall, Emory University
email@example.com Atlanta, GA 30322 USA
From: Travis Bauer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 20:31:51 -0600
Subject: brefh, Luke 18:15
I'm wondering if anyone has an opinion on Luke's use of brefh in 18:15. =
Reiling and Swellengrebel's Translator's handbook on Luke indicates =
that the use of paidia later in the next verse indicates that Luke is =
talking about at least toddlers and not infants. But could the use of =
brefh indicate that Luke is talking about infants here? I know that the =
parallel passages only use paidia. I'm wondering specifically what Luke =
may have been trying to indicate.
From: Bruce Terry <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 22:06:59 CST
Subject: Re: Porter on the present
On Fri, 20 Oct 1995, Philip L. Graber wrote:
>Mari's position (and I would tend to agree with her) is that the present
>encodes imperfective aspect but NOT tense. (BTW, imperfective aspect does
>not necessarily mean "continuous action.") In the case of the "historical
>present" the question for your position is why the present, which you say
>encodes present tense, is used in ways which clearly do NOT indicate
>present tense? Isn't it better to say (as Mari does) that the present
>form is unmarked for tense? The same goes for the aorist. If they are
>unmarked for tense, this goes some way toward explaining the widespread
>use of the present and aorist for participles in a way that does not
Note that in my original post on this subject the chart I submitted showed
tense to be a combination of aspect and time. I believe that many of the
posts on this list are using the term "tense" to mean a temporal value. Why
have I substituted the word "time"? Because (as Karen has suggested) there is
a need to teach students in such a way that they can use the old and learn
from the new. I want to retain the terminology that says there are 7 tenses
in the indicative mode in Greek.
Having said that, I agree that the present form is unmarked for time (in all
modes, and in non-finite forms as well). To say that it is grammatically
unmarked means that it may be conceptually present time (as it often will be),
but that it may also be conceptually past or future time as well. Only the
context can tell.
I agree that the aorist is unmarked for time in all non-indicative forms;
however, IMHO, it is marked for past time in the indicative (this is not to
deny the existence of the gnomic aorist, but only to say that the form that
proverbs can be cast in is a pragmatic, cultural matter, not a grammatical
one; even the gnomic aorist is marked for past time, but in Greek, unlike
English, proverbs can be told in the past as well as the present and the
To mention a few other things: I do think that the future is fundamental to
Greek (and probably to Universal Grammar as well); to reject it in favor of a
binary-featured, past/non-past system is to fall into what Kenneth Pike calls
the binary fallacy (where all things must be seen as binary) in his
_Linguistic Concepts_. In fact, the future is more fundamental than the past,
since it is also present in the optative and non-finite forms while the past
is missing from these.
I respect Comrie but I must disagree when he says that the aorist is
perfective. I will state again my belief that the aorist is unmarked as to
aspect, meaning that it can encode any aspect.
Bruce Terry E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
Box 8426, ACU Station Phone: 915/674-3759
Abilene, Texas 79699 Fax: 915/674-3769
From: "Timothy J. Janz" <email@example.com>
Date: 23 Oct 95 23:15:11 EDT
On Mon, 23 Oct 1995, Vincent DeCaen <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> > TENSE in Greek for the Indicative Mode:
>> I am not reproducing the table.
>> B. COMRIE, Aspect. An Introduction to the Study of Verbal Aspect
>> and Related Problems. Cambridge (England): University Press, 1976, p.
>> 131, sees the relations between tense and aspect in Ancient Greek as
>> "Aorist [+PERFECTIVE, +PAST, -FUTURE]
>> Imperfect [-PERFECTIVE, +PAST, -FUTURE]
>> Present [-PERFECTIVE, -PAST, -FUTURE]
>> Future [ -PAST, +FUTURE]"
>does anyone not see the glaring asymmetries of this chart?? you've got
>a third feature in complementary distribution with perfective in just
>the case of -past. you've also got the redundancies of equipollent
>features that Olsen so eloquently argues against. so how about this:
>aorist [past, perf]
>imperfect [past, ]
>present [ ]
>future [ perf]
>this conceptually clean version is where Olsen should lead. I think
If a non-linguist may venture to comment, your chart is more economical and
theoretically impeccable, but unlike the other one it may not help us understand
what a Greek sentence means. Economy is an advantage in describing phonemes, but
is it useful to apply principles of phonology to semantics like this? Surely
[-past +perf] doesn't account for the value of the future "tense" in any
This of course brings us back to your interpretation of the futur as perfective
(=aor.) + non-past endings, (which was explained in another post which I have
unfortunately already deleted from my mailbox) and which, I might add, of course
only works as a rule of thumb (this is also true of another example you gave,
the French future, which does *not* = infinitive + avoir in the first and second
persons plural, nor in any person in the case of many verbs such as venir,
devoir etc.). It seems to me your approach runs into trouble on the formal level
as soon as we try and use it for verbs other than LUW and the like, but it runs
into trouble even in dealing with plain old LUW if we expect it to explain
anything (as opposed to just being neat and tidy). Trying now to put my ideas
into order a little,
1. Do you have any reason besides the formal resemblance between the aor. "stem"
and the future "stem" to call the future "perfective" (apart from the desire to
make it fit into a chart with one less column)?
2. Once we have said that the future is perfective and non-past, what do we know
about the future? Doesn't this say everything except what matters, namely that
the future is, um, future?
3. Finally, where is the perfect in these charts? Is there any way of including
it without adding a *fourth* column?
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 1995 00:15:34 -0400
Subject: Re: here's what's wrong with Q
Thanks for your explanation of a scientific hypothesis. With regard to
the existence of Q, however, there is also an historical aspect, viz.,
whether there existed at some time before the writing of both Matthew and
Luke a source which they used.
richard arthur, Merrimack, NH
From: Nichael Cramer <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 1995 00:29:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: here's what's wrong with Q
On Tue, 24 Oct 1995 LISATIA@aol.com wrote:
> dear Nichael.
> Thanks for your explanation of a scientific hypothesis. With regard to
> the existence of Q, however, there is also an historical aspect, viz.,
> whether there existed at some time before the writing of both Matthew and
> Luke a source which they used.
And --one final time-- how do we establish the existence of such an object
other than by examining the available data?
End of b-greek-digest V1 #926
** FOR YOUR REFERENCE **
To unsubscribe from this list write
with "unsubscribe b-greek-digest" as your message content. For other
automated services write to the above address with the message content
For further information, you can write the owner of the list at
You can send mail to the entire list via the address: