Re: 'default' aorist

Date: Tue Oct 29 1996 - 15:43:57 EST

You'll no doubt get some fuller and better answers to your question, Ken,
but here are my thoughts. There is no Greek tense that would emphasize the
singularity of a past event. The author could, however, add an adverb like
hAPAX to accomplish this purpose with an aorist or perfect. Whether the
aorist can be used to indicate that the event took place completely in the
past is a different question. Ordinarily the answer is yes, provided of
course that we are confining ourselves to the indicative. There is of course
the so-called "gnomic" aorist which is usually defined as timeless and is
most often translated as a present tense, but I have my doubts whether the
Greeks viewed it that way. Some will also argue that aorist is occasionally
used to refer to an action occurring "right now," and that is relatively true
in "real" time; but real time has very little to do with the tenses, where
the issue is the sequence of events, rather than measuring them with a clock
or stopwatch.

Don Wilkins
UC Riverside

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