Yes, I have "Greek Verb Revisited". I've been combing through it, along with several other voluminous references. But I wanted to fish for some forum input simultaneously... because I'm lazy.
The main case in point for this issue at the moment comes from a blogger who wrote the following summary (https://eli-kittim.tumblr.com/post/1363 ... -the-birth
) of thesis that he lays out here (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HX ... UTF8&psc=1
I challenged the following statement on the grounds that the aorist here has an explicit past-tense temporal reference:
In the Greek text, Romans 5:6 makes it quite clear that Christ died (ἀπέθανεν) at some unspecified time of human history by using the phrase κατὰ καιρὸν, which means “according to the right time,” or at the appropriate time, and does not necessarily refer to past history.
The author's counter to that was an appeal to Porter and his tenseless Greek verb theory. So, according to him, κατὰ καιρόν establishes some kind of eschatological context, and therefor the aorist can be timeless or prophtetic/proleptic; but not necessarily past time (or not likely past tense). He uses this to draw a fringe conclusion - that Paul did not believe that Christ's death, burial and resurrection had happened yet in his lifetime.
And as crank as I believe this whole thesis to be; it does give me pause, because I haven't adequately explored this particul
ar issue. I'd like to find a way to test this theory based on grammar alone, and not by reading historical assumptions into the context. But if Greek tense is ambiguous as the author believes it to be, it would seem to call a lot of interpretation into question and grant a license for some extremely unconventional exegesis.
The example you gave from Smyth shows a proleptic aorist indicative (ἀπωλόμην
) set against a future indicative (λείψεις
). So if I could find more examples that display this pattern, perhaps I could get a better feel for how it works in different contexts.
It seems like some conventional exegesis should let one suss out temporal references in Romans 5, and presumably one could rule out the proleptic use of the aorist based on the grammar alone. But I'm not sure if I have the skill yet to do that. For example:
In Romans 5:6 and 5:8, it seems like ὄντων (ἀσθενῶν
) sets a present progressive (present tense) backdrop (an "anchor) for this aorist (ἀπέθανεν) to express past temporal reference. 5:7 has contrasting tenses - ἀποθανεῖται
(future indicative) and τολμᾷ
(present subjunctive) - not expected if 5:6 contains a proleptic aorist.
5:9 has δικαιωθέντες νῦν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ, σωθησόμεθα
...; another construction that seems to have an anchor in the present tense with νῦν, seemingly requiring δικαιωθέντες
(aorist passive participle) to be interpreted in a present/perfective sense. The contrast with the future indicative σωθησόμεθα seems reminiscent of the example from Smyth, only it's used in conjunction with an aorist participle that has νῦν
I see the exaxt same juxtaposition of aspectual forms (of present participle, aorist indicative, aorist participle and future indicative) in 5:10 -
ἐχθροὶ ὄντες κατηλλάγημεν τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, πολλῷ μᾶλλον, καταλλαγέντες, σωθησόμεθα ἐν τῇ ζωῇ αὐτοῦ
The temporal effect of νῦν
(in 5:9) would seem to cascade through the rest of the verse, and into the following verses. Yet, it's reinforced with another νῦν
in 5:11. I believe that even a tenseless position like Porter's allows that "temporal deixis is conveyed by lexis (lexical items that indicate temporal relationships, e.g. νῦν
...". So wouldn't the use of νῦν
by itself rule out proleptic aorists in Romans 5?
5:12 has a string of aorists with seemingly past-tense reference; Adam's sin and death entering the world, death spreading, people sinning... seemingly not proleptic at all -
ἡ ἁμαρτία εἰς τὸν κόσμον εἰσῆλθεν, καὶ διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος (εἰσῆλθεν), καὶ οὕτως εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὁ θάνατος διῆλθεν, ἐφ’ ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον
This has no temporal contrast against verse 5:13-14 which again puts the present particle ὄντες
up against an aorist indicative that clearly refers to past events from Paul's perspective (from Adam to Moses) -
μὴ ὄντος νόμου ἀλλὰ ἐβασίλευσεν ὁ θάνατος ἀπὸ Ἀδὰμ μέχρι Μωϋσέως
5:17 continues to juxtapose Adam's sin (past tense) with the receipt of grace (past/perfect) and Christ's reign (future tense) -
εἰ... ὁ θάνατος ἐβασίλευσεν... οἱ, τὴν περισσείαν τῆς χάριτος καὶ τῆς δωρεᾶς τῆς δικαιοσύνης λαμβάνοντες, ἐν ζωῇ βασιλεύσουσιν
Ultimately, I just haven't spend enough time analyzing proleptic constructs (with such a paucity of examples) to determine whether or not my above-described reasoning is correct in ruling out a future sense in Romans 5. Of course, I have a preconceived conviction about it. I just want to make sure I'm approaching the topic as objectively as possible and challenging/developing my own understanding of the grammar in the process.