Re: NUN+Verb.Aorist

From: Paul Zellmer (
Date: Tue Apr 29 1997 - 21:57:28 EDT

Jonathan Robie wrote:
> At 08:38 AM 4/29/97 -0400, Paul Zellmer wrote:
> >Yesterday, Jonathan wrote:
> >
> >> Incidentally, in a fairly recent series of posts, I think that we reached
> >> some consensus that NUN+Verb.Aorist generally functions much like the
> >> perfect, pointing to the present state.
> >
> >Jonathan, I don't believe this is a recent consensus/agreement.
> Oh well, I was hoping to be able to proclaim this consensus by divine fiat ;->
> Remember the list of NUN+Verb.Aorist examples I posted? As I recall,
> everybody who responded seemed to think that they functioned much like the
> perfect, focusing on a present condition with respect to a past event. I
> don't remember that you posted. I haven't checked the archives, so this is
> only my fading memory.
> >Even those of us who still hold to a general "past time" significance to the
> >augment realize that there are many occasions where that time "meaning"
> >is overriden, leaving or focussing on the aspect characteristics of the
> >form. Whether this qualifies it to act "much like the perfect" depends
> >a good bit on how you see perfect acting.
> I find it interesting that you choose the term "overridden" here - if it
> *can* be overridden, leaving the aspect, then you actually agree with Mari
> to a great extent. She argues that there are some things that can not be
> overridden, and others that can. Those that can not be overridden are
> essential features, those which can be overridden may still be generally
> true due to the basic meaning associated with the essential features (she
> calls them pragmatic implicatures, but I can't pronounce that).
> I continue to find more agreement than disagreement between Mari Olsen,
> Fanning, Smyth, Robertson, and Blass-Debrunner-Rehkopf.
> >The question that was argued before is whether the augment still was an
> >indicator of past time in Koine Greek. I think we still have proponents
> >and opponents of the proposition on the list.
> What precisely do you mean when you say that the augment "was an indicator
> of past time" in Koine Greek? Frankly, I don't think that anybody has been
> that precise about what this means. Do you have a model for how this past
> time indicator interacts with other language features?
> I don't mean to put you on the spot, and I can understand if you don't have
> time for this, since I know how much effort these aspect discussions can
> take, but I would be very interested in a more thorough and precise
> explanation of how you approach time and aspect here.
> >Take it easy, friend.
> Likewise!
> Jonathan
> ***************************************************************************
> Jonathan Robie
> POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703
> ***************************************************************************


You asked the question, in effect tossing out a challenge, concerning my
statement of the augment being a marker of past time. I searched in
vain in my archives for the statement that Carl made a while back to
this effect. If I recall correctly, his statement was that this was
common in Classical greek although he questioned if it still had as
strong an effect in Koine. Rolf also described the augment as a past
time marker in his post "RE: To tense or not to tense" on Fri, 14 Mar
1997 12:22:08 +0000. He said, "True the augment signalled past time,
and probably does so also in biblical Greek, though this is
disputed...." He also referred to this connection of time with the
augment several times in his discussion of aspect the end of last
month. Don Wilkins apparently sees the augment as a past tense marker
when he said, "Like others who have similar view points, he (Wes
Williams) is ignoring the fact that the aorist in question is in the
indicative and has the augment," in his posting, "Re: Attention aspect
geeks: John 15:6 EBLHQH, EXHRANQH" on April 5, 1997. In fact, he made
his viewpoint perfectly clear in "Re: The augment," sent on Wed, 9 Apr
1997 11:50:20 -0800.

I went back and looked again at your posting on "NUN + Indicative Aorist
= perfect?" (BTW, I only saw two responses to that, one which said,
"Maybe," (mentioning the first two examples only) and the other stating
that NUN may be marking an actual condition after describing a
contrary-to-fact condition.) As for me, I see a difference in
perspective between your five examples and the perfect. I agree that
your interpretation is similar to the perfect, but this interpretation
comes from examing the entire context. It is not simply derived from
the NUN + Ind. Aor. The NUN + Ind. Aor. describes a current or recent
activity which is the basis for the contextual "perfect-like" result.
(I realize how close my description is to your suggestion, but I would
see the "= perfect" as meaning that we would not need the context to
complete the aspective interpretation. Instead of a focus on the
effects of an action, [IMO, what would be "perfect"], the examples seem
to be stating that something which was lacking before has now been
fulfilled [which would be the starting point only of the perfect].

Specifically, in Mt 26:65, at first the council had not heard, but NUN
HKUSATE. In Eph 3:5, the mystery had not been made known before hWS NUN
APEKALUFQH. In 1 Pet 1:12, the things had not been announced to you,
but NUN ANHGGELH. In John 13:31, before Jesus was not glorified, but
NUN EDOXASQH. The only one which does not clearly make a contrast with
a previous condition is Rom 11:31, but the condition necessary for the
showing of mercy was fulfilled since NUN HREIQHSAN.

What I find is interesting is that the activity in each of these
examples are in consonance with the time aspect of the augment--each of
the actions have already occurred. I realize that there are other
possible exceptions to this occurrence, but I like it when even
secondary points of significance of forms (like the time indication of
the augment in Greek verbs) are not overruled by the context. :^>

Take it easy,


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