Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Exploring Albert Rijksbaron's book, The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek: An Introduction, to see how it would need to be adapted for Koine Greek. Much of the focus will be on finding Koine examples to illustrate the same points Rijksbaron illustrates with Classical examples, and places where Koine Greek diverges from Classical Greek.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 3rd, 2019, 6:54 pm

MAubrey wrote:
August 3rd, 2019, 4:32 pm
The thing is:

Everyone knew about examples like these before 1989 and everyone knew that there was a coersion of temporal reference in them. Grammars talked about them regularly, but just put them in different categories.

The only thing that Porter really did was provide a different explanation for why they existed--an explanation that makes accounting for other usages (or lack thereof) far more complicated.
This bears repeating, and it explains why you’re not really going to see the Porter debate reflected in the translations.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Stephen Nelson » August 3rd, 2019, 9:39 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
August 3rd, 2019, 5:52 pm
However, in the context we can see that Jesus is already being betrayed by Judas. It's already happening, but will be completed in the future.
What about 1 Thessalonians 2:16?

Paul says: "...ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπ᾽ αὐτοὺς (τοὺς Ἰουδαίας) ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος"
NASB: But wrath has come upon them (the Jews) to the utmost.

It's been argued that this is a proleptic aorist (prophetic aorist), because Paul is prophesying about the Jewish War. Others argue that it's a genuine past tense clause, because it's a post-70 AD interpolation explicitly in reference to the Jewish War (hence εἰς τέλος).

So can exegetes reasonably fall back on this proleptic aorist interpretation when it suits them? Or are there syntactical constraints on that sort of thing?
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » August 4th, 2019, 5:01 am

Stephen Nelson wrote:
August 3rd, 2019, 9:39 pm
It's been argued that this is a proleptic aorist (prophetic aorist), because Paul is prophesying about the Jewish War. Others argue that it's a genuine past tense clause, because it's a post-70 AD interpolation explicitly in reference to the Jewish War (hence εἰς τέλος).

So can exegetes reasonably fall back on this proleptic aorist interpretation when it suits them? Or are there syntactical constraints on that sort of thing?
This is very good question. When arguing for interpretation of grammatical phenomena when establishing some "category" or interpretation one should use undisputable examples. Using examples which can easily be interpreted in many ways is begging the question. On the other hand, in the end it's not about specific examples but the whole. How frameworks actually work in large picture.

Note also that in the example above the possible eplanations work inside the "old" tensed framework. "Prophetic aorist" is an old category. See also Smyth:
1934. Aorist for Future.—The aorist may be substituted for the future when a future event is vividly represented as having actually occurred: ἀπωλόμην ἄρʼ, εἴ με δὴ λείψεις I am undone if thou dost leave me E. Alc. 386.

Smyth, H. W. (1920). A Greek Grammar for Colleges (p. 432). New York; Cincinnati; Chicago; Boston; Atlanta: American Book Company.
Therefore the interpretation options of 1 Thessalonians 2:16 don't necessarily have anything to do with tensed vs. tenseless views. It would be wrong to talk about "genuine past tense" vs. disingenuous or tenseless.

___________________________

It's possible that the proponents of the aspect-only/tenseless view see old explanations as wrong because they look like too many exceptions to the rule. But that's not the case. In the old/modern tensed view the "exceptions" are motivated for example rhetorically or cognitively. They work and are used exactly because there is tense (and aspect, too). And to be clear, the modern tensed view also sees aspect as more important in general because tense appears only in indicative.

BTW, do you already know about "Greek Verb Revisited"?
https://www.logos.com/product/53614/the ... l-exegesis
https://www.amazon.com/Greek-Verb-Revis ... 1577996364

There are quite many discussions in this forum about tense and aspect and related literature, for example...
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=175
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... =19&t=4075
viewforum.php?f=66

etc. etc...
To mention just few.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Stephen Nelson » August 4th, 2019, 1:57 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
August 4th, 2019, 5:01 am

BTW, do you already know about "Greek Verb Revisited"?
https://www.logos.com/product/53614/the ... l-exegesis
https://www.amazon.com/Greek-Verb-Revis ... 1577996364

There are quite many discussions in this forum about tense and aspect and related literature, for example...
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=175
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... =19&t=4075
viewforum.php?f=66

etc. etc...
To mention just few.
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 particular 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/ἁμαρωλῶν) 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 for emphasis.

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.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 4th, 2019, 3:31 pm

Stephen Nelson wrote:The author's counter to that was an appeal to Porter and his tenseless Greek verb theory.

!!! SNIP !!!

And as crank as I believe this whole thesis to be; it does give me pause, because I haven't adequately explored this particular 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.
I think this boils down to taking a whole list of passages that have been proposed to prove each school and looking at what each school says about them - as well as translations and commentaries that are not part of the linguistic debate. It's a lot of work. Some of the people on this list have been through that process several times. I would LOVE to have a simple, falsifiable theory that we could test using corpus linguistics. I don't think this debate has ever been at that level. Falsifiability is part of the problem - it is easy to dismiss a counterexample by proposing a different way to interpret the passage.

I know and like Porter and several of his colleagues, I have worked together with some of them on open datasets. Clearly, the Porter school has influenced a significant number of New Testament scholars in North America. I don't think it is the majority view, but that may reveal who I hang out with most frequently. B-Greek has usually had few Porter school advocates, perhaps because it is very much a minority view on this forum and people tend to self-sort into groups that agree with them.

I don't think the Porter school has had much influence on Classicists or on modern linguists outside of New Testament studies. I don't think it has influenced translation much. The Systemic Functional Linguistics approach they take is not widely used in modern linguistics. There are other authors who study ancient Greek using modern linguistics, generally using a more eclectic approach.

There are two books that give a simple explanation of the Greek verb along the lines that tend to be mainstream on B-Greek these days. Three if you know German. They are more systematic than The Greek Verb Revisited, which is a collection of great essays, and easier to digest.
  • The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek An excellent and extremely systematic approach that carefully considers the interplay of verbs acting together in context. Lots of examples. Short. Uses examples from Classical Greek, but with translations to make them easy to follow.
  • The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek Covers the entire grammar with a LOT of very useful examples. This has replaced Smyth for me for most reference.
  • Griechische Grammatik zum Neuen Testament This is a systematic Greek grammar for the New Testament, covering most of what I find in BDR / BDF as well. Lots of examples. In German. Uses vocabulary and concepts more often encountered in Germany than in the States, so it's not always easy to quickly translate a section.
These books don't cover everything. Cognitive Linguistics and Discourse Analysis are both hugely influential. For those of us who study New Testament Greek, though, I'm not sure that we have anything as systematic and accessible as the above books. Yet.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by MAubrey » August 4th, 2019, 6:38 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
August 4th, 2019, 3:31 pm
[*]Griechische Grammatik zum Neuen Testament This is a systematic Greek grammar for the New Testament, covering most of what I find in BDR / BDF as well. Lots of examples. In German. Uses vocabulary and concepts more often encountered in Germany than in the States, so it's not always easy to quickly translate a section.[/list]
It's being translated into English.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by MAubrey » August 4th, 2019, 6:55 pm

Stephen Nelson wrote:
August 3rd, 2019, 9:39 pm
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
August 3rd, 2019, 5:52 pm
However, in the context we can see that Jesus is already being betrayed by Judas. It's already happening, but will be completed in the future.
What about 1 Thessalonians 2:16?

Paul says: "...ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπ᾽ αὐτοὺς (τοὺς Ἰουδαίας) ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος"
NASB: But wrath has come upon them (the Jews) to the utmost.

It's been argued that this is a proleptic aorist (prophetic aorist), because Paul is prophesying about the Jewish War. Others argue that it's a genuine past tense clause, because it's a post-70 AD interpolation explicitly in reference to the Jewish War (hence εἰς τέλος).

So can exegetes reasonably fall back on this proleptic aorist interpretation when it suits them? Or are there syntactical constraints on that sort of thing?
This example smells like a fixed expression:
ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς...[X]
"X comes upon them"
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Stephen Nelson » August 5th, 2019, 2:09 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
August 4th, 2019, 3:31 pm
  • The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek An excellent and extremely systematic approach that carefully considers the interplay of verbs acting together in context. Lots of examples. Short. Uses examples from Classical Greek, but with translations to make them easy to follow.
  • The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek Covers the entire grammar with a LOT of very useful examples. This has replaced Smyth for me for most reference.
  • Griechische Grammatik zum Neuen Testament This is a systematic Greek grammar for the New Testament, covering most of what I find in BDR / BDF as well. Lots of examples. In German. Uses vocabulary and concepts more often encountered in Germany than in the States, so it's not always easy to quickly translate a section.
Thanks for the feedback! I've ordered The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek. I have Cambridge Grammar actually. I just read chapter 33, The Verb: Tense and Aspect. I didn't notice any reference to aorist indicative in a future sense. I do think this book is a vast improvement on Smyth. But it's interesting that Smyth does have at least a brief mention of it, yet Cambridge seemingly does not... unless someone can suggest where I missed it.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Stephen Nelson » August 5th, 2019, 2:39 am

Here are Campbell's examples from Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek:
Future Aorist
More commonly, the aorist tense-form may be used in future-referring contexts.
[...]
Mark 11:24
διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν, πάντα ὅσα προσεύχεσθε καὶ αἰτεῖσθε, πιστεύετε ὅτι ἐλάβετε, καὶ ἔσται ὑμῖν.

Therefore, I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for - believe that you will receive them, and you will have them.

Luke 17:6
εἶπεν δὲ ὁ κύριος· Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐλέγετε ἂν τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ· Ἐκριζώθητι καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ· καὶ ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν.

"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed" the Lord said, "you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.

Revelation 10:7
ἀλλ᾽ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ ἑβδόμου ἀγγέλου ὅταν μέλλῃ σαλπίζειν καὶ ἐτελέσθη τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς εὐηγγέλισεν τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ δούλους τοὺς προφήτας

...but in the days of the sound of the seventh angel, when he will blow his trumpet, then God's hidden plan will be completed, as he announced to his servants the prophets.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by RandallButh » August 6th, 2019, 1:07 pm

Late to this thread.
"Believe that you received them ..."

To be simple and blunt, there is a good reason why you should not expect Porter's theory to influence Bible translations:
The aspect-only theory is not-Greek and most translation committees try to be responsible.

Classicists do not give the theory credence. The majority of NT scholars consider the aspect-only theory refuted.
And modern Greeks consider the aspect-only theory to be debunked and anti-Greek.
PS: the ancients also rejected the theory, preemptively. The ancient grammarians were the ones who came up with the temporal definitions of indicative time, on their own, and as mother-tongue speakers.

Three items may give you sound-byte solace:

So-called future aorists are rare and always involve complex contexts.
The imperfect tense is always past referring when indicative.
The "showpiece" example of the historical present mis-predicts ASPECT as well as time. It is rhetorically used against both aspect and time for literary effect. Hence, the HP is not evidence for its semantic meaning, but the HP reinforces the traditional understanding that the HP is playing with the semantic meaning for rhetorical effect.
[If you are unaware of the power of this argument, go through Mark's historical presents and notice especially how multiple historical presents would be sequential perfectives and would choose the aorist indicative over the imperfect indicative if choosing a past-referring structure. Compare Matthew and Luke where appropriate, where they regularly do this very thing in the same context.])

Extra advice for free: talk to yourself in Greek, it's good for the soul.
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