RE: Aspect Specifics

From: S. M. Baugh (
Date: Wed Apr 09 1997 - 12:21:08 EDT


Well, the recent exchange inspired by the "gnomic" aorist in John 15:6
has trailed around to some sometimes interesting questions.

HOWEVER! Where are we now? Jonathan's definition of the aorist? Well, if
so, my (sigh) neglected 12 Theses may be of interest. Jonathan gallantly
and boldly wrote:
>"The aorist views an action from the time of its completion. In most
>cases, the action is in the past, but it can also depict a future
>action, a present action, or an action not fixed in time, always
>viewing it from the time of its completion."

NOW! It seems to me that all our grammars, even the linguistically
correct, want to pursue this tack of defining THE AORIST. (Don't get me
wrong, I know the necessity of simple definitions for beginners as the
glossary in my Primer testifies.)

YET! Here's my gauntlet: No simple definition of the aorist is really
possible. It means different things in different situations and in the
different moods. Attempts to MAKE it mean one thing are analogous to
fallacious lexical semantics which seek one "basic" meaning for a lexeme
from which all other meanings flow. The Greek of the NT was especially
succeptable to this feature because of its derivation from Hellenistic
internationalism, its haphazard connection to LXXisms [and hence
Semitisms], and its creation by writers of different educational and
cultural experiences. And the different tense forms have different
semantic values dependent upon a number of complex factors in any

NOW! May I suggest that this abstract discussion of Greek verbal aspect
include AT LEAST one example from the GNT to illustrate one's point. The
beginners on our list are probably dazed and confused. Examples from the
NT will help all. I realize detailed scholarship on this "sound byte"
forum are impossible, but a few concrete examples will help us all.

SO! Here are my merely two examples for the day. Anyone please explain
the aspect semantics of KRINW in the following two statements (the 3
target forms are marked by asterisks):

        MH *KRINETE* KAI OU MH *KRIQHTE* (Matt. 7:1//Luke 6:37.
        KATA TON NOMON hUMWN *KRINATE* AUTON (John 18:31).

I'll let you know if you get it right. (Just kidding!)

Yours in all good humor and learning,

S. M. Baugh
New Testament
Westminster Theological Seminary
1725 Bear Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA 92027

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:12 EDT