Re: Porter on the present

From: Philip L. Graber (
Date: Sun Oct 22 1995 - 15:57:02 EDT

On Sat, 21 Oct 1995, David Moore wrote:

> It is, then, the practical usefulness of this new paradigm in the
> task of exegesis that should concern us. When, for instance, we find that
> no absolute statements can be made about the encoding of time in certain
> grammatical forms of the verb, is it better to pronounce them unmarked for
> tense, or are we better off, in a practical sense, to note the usual tense
> content of the form and then explain those special cases which constitute
> exceptions.

But what is the "usual tense content" of a form? That is what is in
question. If in fact relative time is not encoded in the tense forms at
all, then thinking that it is will result in faulty exegesis. It is better
to pronounce forms unmarked for tense if there is reason to believe that
they are in fact so unmarked (part of scholarship is just trying to
increase knowledge of how things really are). It is also practical in that
(if they are really unmarked for tense) this pronouncement will keep us
from reading a particular form as having a particular tense when it does

Philip Graber Graduate Division of Religion
Graduate Student in New Testament 211 Bishops Hall, Emory University Atlanta, GA 30322 USA

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