Re: default aorist

From: Mark OBrien (
Date: Thu Oct 31 1996 - 10:40:52 EST

This whole issue of the markedness/unmarkedness of the aorist is an interesting
one, and certainly impacts some stuff that I am currently working on. I went
back and read through Fanning's section where he argues against the aorist being
unmarked (pp. 94-97 in his text), and I thought it would be interesting to have
some of you interact with his arguments here.

His major point against this view is that the aorist does seem to have aspectual
character in that there are interactions with certain types of verbs that you
would not expect if the aorist was unmarked. For example, one would expect that
a stative verb would be unaffected in the aorist, simply denoting the existence
of the state (as in the present tense), and yet there is a consistent and
predictable shift in the aorist which produces an ingressive sense. Fanning
also holds that a similar thing occurs in verbs of accomplishment, where the
sense of completion is "consistently stronger". As evidence of this ingressive
shift, he uses ZAW as an example, citing 29 occurrences in the present and
imperfect tenses, all with a stative sense, and yet in the 8 occurrences in ZAW
in the aorist, 7 have an ingressive sense (p. 138). Fanning also cites a study
done by Richard J. Erickson (_OIDA and GINWSKW and Verbal Aspect in Pauline
Usage_, WTJ 44, 1982) which presents the same results for GINWSKW (Fanning, p.
136, n. 24).

I'm curious to see how some of you who are beyond a doubt more linguistically
able than I (errr... Mari?) interpret and interact with this argument against
the unmarked view of the aorist.


Mark O'Brien
"Short-timer" (the Lord willing!), Dallas Theological Seminary
     "I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts."
                     -- Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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