SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Stephen Carlson
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne
Contact:

SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 23rd, 2013, 7:49 am

The Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics section of the SBL is having one of two sessions today on the perfect. Here is the description:
Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics
11/23/2013
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 323 - Convention Center
Theme: The "Perfect" Storm
This is a dedicated session that addresses the Greek "perfect tense." Its counterpart is an open session that features a variety of topics relating to linguistics and NT Greek.

Randall Tan, Asia Bible Society, Presiding

Stanley Porter, McMaster Divinity College
The Perfect Isn't Perfect—It's Stative (30 min)

Buist Fanning, Dallas Theological Seminary
Defining the Ancient Greek Perfect: Interaction with Recent Alternatives to the Traditional View of the Perfect (30 min)

Constantine Campbell, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
The Greek Perfect: Why It Isn't (30 min)

Discussion (60 min)
Here are the abstracts:
Stan Porter wrote:The Perfect Isn't Perfect—It's Stative

As opposed to some previous efforts, many of them relying upon traditional grammar or restrictive aspectual notions, the perfect tense-form in Greek grammaticalizes a synthetic verbal aspect, best characterized as semantically realizing stative aspect. The stative aspect must be seen within a robust aspectual theory and in relation to the entire Greek verbal network and its systemic organization. This paper both defines the stative aspect and discusses its functions within Greek discourse.
Buist Fanning wrote:Defining the Ancient Greek Perfect: Interaction with Recent Alternatives to the Traditional View of the Perfect

Alongside the attention paid in recent decades to the present and aorist aspects in ancient Greek, the perfect tense forms have been relatively neglected. But serious questions are increasingly being raised about the adequacy of the consensus view of the perfect found in traditional grammars (“expressing an action done with existing results”), and alternative descriptions have been offered. This paper will evaluate several alternatives and reassess the traditional view in light of the questions raised.
Con Campbell wrote:The Greek Perfect: Why It Isn't

Counter-intuitive nomenclature notwithstanding, the usage of the Greek perfect is best explained by its imperfective aspect. While other accounts of its semantic constituency provide some power of explanation of the perfect's functionality, these are beset with the perennial problem of admitting various 'exceptions' to the rule. It will be argued in this paper that imperfective aspect best accounts for the evidence, while addressing some recent critiques of this position.
1 x


Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

cwconrad
Posts: 2112
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714
Contact:

Re: SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Post by cwconrad » November 23rd, 2013, 9:56 am

Thanks for posting this, Stephen. I hope you'll be taking some notes and sharing your impressions with us about what you hear and what you think about what you will have heard. And if there are any handouts that are accessible to those who aren't there, I'm wondering if they might not be available for redistribution (via scan?) in PDF files -- assuming consent of the presenters, of course.
0 x
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Stephen Carlson
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne
Contact:

Re: SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 23rd, 2013, 9:50 pm

It's been a long day. They basically restated their positions already in print, with some back and forth. In the question period, Randall Buth stood up and asked a question about how to say "I am standing" in Greek but was not allowed to follow up, so the point was lost.

Only Fanning had a handout. It includes some citations. They may be worth looking at.
1 x
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

RandallButh
Posts: 1056
Joined: May 13th, 2011, 4:01 am

Re: SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Post by RandallButh » November 24th, 2013, 8:57 am

Yes, Stephen, the first point was lost:
(1) I had wished to hear someone mention a position with TWO parameters in the perfect: {+perfective, followed with a +imperfective}. The two fused into the Greek perfect. I'll probably need to write a short blog on that first point. Maybe later today. No one commented on the point in the session because of the second point. Ironically, the first point was the theoretically important point and the second point was only a clarification and correction of something misstated in the discussion.

(2) The verb ἕστηκα had been mentioned in discussions from the podium/panel as a transitive, so I wanted to hear each position state with the most common Greek verb how many ways a Greek could say ", I am standing." First, this would clean up the podium discussion that had been incorrect, but second it would illustrate how systems can mispredict and how they need to be constrained by a real use of Greek. Afterall, where there is no choice there is no meaning, and with ἕστηκα there is no choice. This is not so different from a verb like οἲδα εἰδέναι, that had been used in the discussions but as if it were a meaningful choice. Fanning correctly said that the way to say 'I am standing' is ἕστηκα, Campbell agreed but wanted to add ἵστημι, Porter declined to say anything, but then said that he was with Campbell on the question. I thanked them, gratefully acknowledging Fanning's correct clarification, though I asked Campbell to produce one example of his ἵστημι from anywhere in the Greek language. (Who knows, maybe a Homeric poem or Pindarian poem has an example(?), the solitude of which, if it exists, would only more forcibly underline that a Greek speaker was constrained to use ἕστηκα.)
0 x

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Post by Stephen Hughes » November 24th, 2013, 9:46 pm

RandallButh wrote:Afterall, where there is no choice there is no meaning, and with ἕστηκα there is no choice.
Could you clarify what you mean by the highlighted phrase please?
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

MAubrey
Posts: 1030
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 8:52 pm
Location: Washington
Contact:

Re: SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Post by MAubrey » November 24th, 2013, 10:12 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:It's been a long day. They basically restated their positions already in print, with some back and forth. In the question period, Randall Buth stood up and asked a question about how to say "I am standing" in Greek but was not allowed to follow up, so the point was lost.

Only Fanning had a handout. It includes some citations. They may be worth looking at.
I knew that would happen. I had low expectations--a big reason why I didn't come this year. If they wanted something useful they should have asked speakers who had not already produced published monographs on the subject. Rutger Allan regurgitated his monograph on Middle Voice last year. When the scholars involved haven't done anything new, I don't see how it could have gone any differently..
RandallButh wrote:{+perfective, followed with a +imperfective}
This was my preferred view until I began looking at grammatical contrasts between present middles and perfect middles. It sounds reasonable when contrasting present and perfect actives. It's a harder point to make with middles. Only the present middles will be imperfective. The perfects will be purely existential--no internal temporal constituency. Consider, for example: γέγραπται, 'it is written,' vs. γράφεται, 'it is being written.'
RandallButh wrote:...though I asked Campbell to produce one example of his ἵστημι from anywhere in the Greek language. (Who knows, maybe a Homeric poem or Pindarian poem has an example(?), the solitude of which, if it exists, would only more forcibly underline that a Greek speaker was constrained to use ἕστηκα.)
Well said.

There are certainly no Homeric-era instances of ἵστημι with that meaning, whether in Homer, Hesiod, or the Homeric Hymns. I've done a complete search of this verb in those texts. I haven't checked all Classical occurrences, but I've examined specific authors comprehensively. The Koine and Byzantine are the same. ἵστημι can't mean "I am standing." On the other hand, someone could have perhaps said: ἵσταμαι, which eventually replaces ἕστηκα entirely in another 400 years or so. I could also possibly seen ἔστην as having that meaning in the right context, maybe in Homer, since it allows both causative and non-causative senses. Maybe here...
Homer, Iliad 17.29–32 wrote: 29 ὥς θην καὶ σὸν ἐγὼ λύσω μένος εἴ κέ μευ ἄντα
30 στήῃς· ἀλλά σ᾽ ἔγωγ᾽ ἀναχωρήσαντα κελεύω
31 ἐς πληθὺν ἰέναι, μηδ᾽ ἀντίος ἵστασ᾽ ἐμεῖο
32 πρίν τι κακὸν παθέειν·
But the conditional certainly complicates the situation. I cannot see the aorist being used as a simple answer to the question: "What are you dong." That would certainly be a ἕστηκα.
0 x
Mike Aubrey, Linguist
Koine-Greek.com

Stephen Carlson
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne
Contact:

Re: SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 26th, 2013, 1:24 am

I've been extremely busy here at SBL and so I am not able to provide any detail comments about the session for a while.

A couple things that struck me:

1. Stan Porter really does not like the Aktionsart approach of Fanning, and, in my opinion, most modern treatments of aspect outside of Koine Greek. It's not clear to me what the basis for his dislike is, but it seems to have affected his reading of those linguists who do accept the concept of Aktionsart, as Con Campbell was able to point out. (I does not help that some of them say "aspect" when Aktionsart is closer to what was meant.

2. Fanning thinks that Porter's approach is basically so vague as to be unfalsiable and offers no help for the interpreter.

3. Nobody knows how to pronounce Carl Bache's name.
0 x
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Stephen Carlson
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne
Contact:

Re: SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 28th, 2013, 5:31 am

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:It's been a long day. They basically restated their positions already in print, with some back and forth. In the question period, Randall Buth stood up and asked a question about how to say "I am standing" in Greek but was not allowed to follow up, so the point was lost.

Only Fanning had a handout. It includes some citations. They may be worth looking at.
I knew that would happen. I had low expectations--a big reason why I didn't come this year. If they wanted something useful they should have asked speakers who had not already produced published monographs on the subject. Rutger Allan regurgitated his monograph on Middle Voice last year. When the scholars involved haven't done anything new, I don't see how it could have gone any differently..
Yep, that's exactly what happened.
0 x
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Stephen Carlson
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne
Contact:

Re: SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 28th, 2013, 5:34 am

MAubrey wrote:
RandallButh wrote:{+perfective, followed with a +imperfective}
This was my preferred view until I began looking at grammatical contrasts between present middles and perfect middles. It sounds reasonable when contrasting present and perfect actives. It's a harder point to make with middles. Only the present middles will be imperfective. The perfects will be purely existential--no internal temporal constituency. Consider, for example: γέγραπται, 'it is written,' vs. γράφεται, 'it is being written.'
I realize it is Thanksgiving in the US, but could you expand / expound on this when you get the time? This is very condensed and I'm not sure I'm understanding it.
0 x
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

RandallButh
Posts: 1056
Joined: May 13th, 2011, 4:01 am

Re: SBL session on the Greek Perfect

Post by RandallButh » November 28th, 2013, 11:05 am

I hope to unpack something similar to this is a blog post that I'm trying to edit and maybe upload while packing and navigating Thanksgiving traffic to the airport for a long trip. If I don't succeed today it will probably be three days before I can upload.
0 x

Post Reply

Return to “Syntax and Grammar”