Re: Lk 19:1-10: ambiguous present tense

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Nov 07 1995 - 17:13:56 EST

At 1:06 PM 11/7/95, Philip L. Graber wrote:
>Since none of our learned colleagues have responded, I guess I will. Luke
>Johnson translates DIDWMI as "am giving," explaining that Zacchaeus is
>indicating that his repentance is not a one-shot deal, but a change in
>habit. Whether or not this is a good reading, it certainly is a
>legitimate use of the present tense in English. It is stewardship season
>in many churches, and a natural response to the question, "What will you
>give to the church next year?" might be, "I am giving $xx.xx/month next
>year." According to Mari's analysis (of both Greek and English), this is
>accounted for by the fact that present realizes imperfective aspect but
>not tense. In context, the time reference is clearly future. In the
>Zacchaeus story, the context would also seem to indicate future
>(Zacchaeus is identified as a sinner, and Jesus says that "today"
>salvation has come, etc.).

Actually, there was a reply Sunday night from David Moore upon which he
expanded still further last night (I must say, David appears to do good
work late at night!). I am not trying to argue for Fitzmyer's
interpretation, Phil, but I want to be clear on your understanding of this
present tense. Isn't it context alone that decides you that the meaning of
DIDWMI here is future? If all other things were void of indication, would
the form not be capable of expressing the speaker's sense that this is what
he regularly and normally does--has done and will continue doing? I'm
trying to ascertain whether, apart from other indications in the narrative,
Fitzmyer's understanding of the present tense is excluded from

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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