Re: Grammatical Tense, LEGW,

From: Kenneth Litwak (
Date: Tue Oct 24 1995 - 22:04:22 EDT

   Following up Karen's comment,
> Greek is so sloppy, that I don't know that I'd place any importance on the
> tenses he uses, especially imperfect vs. aorist. He commonly uses imperfect
> where the other writers use aorist.
> Karen Pitts
> Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Hopewell, NJ, teacher of NT Greek
> David Sarnoff Research Center, Princeton, NJ, statistician
   I have noticed in reading Mark that he seems to very readily mix tense
forms (whatever significance they have). Porter says in his _Idioms_
book that the present is used in narrative for dramatic effect and to
emphasize changes in story-line. My reading of Mark, such as 8:22-0:1, has
not given me that impression. I'm not criticizing Mark's Greek per se, but I
don't see a rhyme or reason to his mixing of tense forms. This seems to
evident to me that I am questioning exegetical decisions based on the choice
of tense. I am also wondering, while I'm writing this, if those more
knowledgeable than I in Greek lit. in general would attach significance to
1. the use of de. In 7:24-30, Gundry, in his (may I say "masterful", at
least impressive) commentary on Mark makes much of the occurences of
adversative de in this passage. I'm not sure I'd put that much weight on
this particle. It seems to me to just be how Greek sentences are linked
together, and is of little or no significance. I would grant that to alla,
but not to de.
2. Since Greek work order is not fixed in any significant way that I have
seen (though my sample size may be too limited, as I've not ventured much
outside the NT heretofore), I question Gundry's comments on the significance
of word order. I would accept that in Hebrew SOV is an emphatic word order,
but in Greek, that could be business as usual. Can we really draw significance
in Greek from word order?

   I'm not trying to take a strong stand here, as I admit to having a limited
database of experience from which to draw (the NT and a tiny bit of the LXX).

Ken Litwak
Bezerkley, CA

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