Re. Verbal Aspect

From: Rod Decker (
Date: Thu Oct 24 1996 - 09:06:33 EDT

>Just wondering if anyone has made a good read through Stan Porter's _Idioms
>of the Greek New Testament_. I am still adjusting to this notion of "verbal
>aspect" and am still trying to come to some conclusions as to how well this
>"interpretive-grid" fits the text.

That was my first reaction when I read _Idioms_ a few years ago, and as a
matter of fact, is why I chose not to use it for a 2d year textbook that
year. I needed time to process this proposal. So I worked through that
grammar while my students used a different one. The next year I had a
sabbatical to complete the residence work on my doctorate, so made it one
of my goals that year to evaluate Porter's proposal (in the form of his
published dissertation)--of which I was still skeptical at the time. I
added Fanning's work as well. We were actually able to spend over half the
semester that fall working through both Porter and Fanning in an Advanced
Greek Grammar seminar. The upshot of all that is that I think Porter has
made a legitimate and valuable proposal. My own dissertation work (which is
only now in the beginning stages) is to respond to Daryl Schmidt's
challenge that "what the interested reader needs next is a fresh treatment
of longer texts to illustrate the use of aspects in relationship to each
other" (review of Porter and Fanning in JBL 111 [1992] 716). I am working
on the use of aspect in Mark on a book-wide scale, focusing on temporal
deixis and the narrative function of aspect.

For those who want to pursue reading in this area, I suggest the following
introductory discussions (obviously the ultimate goal would be to read
Porter's and Fanning's dissertations--both published):

        Silva, Moises, _God, Language and Scripture_ (Zondervan, 1990),
                esp. pp. 111-18.
        Carson, D. A. _Exegetical Fallacies_, 2d ed. (Baker, 1996), 67ff.
        Porter, S. and D. A. Carson, ed., _Biblical Greek Language and
                Linguistics_, JSNT supp. series #80 (Sheffield, 1993), 18-83.
                This vol. contains a very helpful overview of the discussion
                by Carson, summaries by both Porter and Fanning, and responses
                 by Silva and Schmidt.

I also have a 30+ pg. summary of Porter's big vol. (actually the first half
of it, which is the key section related to aspect) which I have offered
here previously for $3 (US only); or by email as a MS Word v. 5 [Mac]
attached file--but you would need to have the Graeca font to make it
legible; WinWord 6 or 7 can also read this format directly). It is still
available if any are interested. Send me off-list email for details.

BTW, this subject has surfaced a number of times over the past few years on
b-greek; there should be some interesting material in the archives--if
there is such a thing available at the moment (the archives seem to come
and go from various sites).


 Rodney J. Decker, Asst. Prof./NT Baptist Bible Seminary Clarks Summit, PA

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