re: Aorist and Present tense verbs

From: Marty Brownfield (
Date: Thu May 01 1997 - 23:17:20 EDT

> From: Larry & Beth Hartman <>, on 5/1/97 4:46 PM:
> Folks:
> I saw the discussion concerning aorist and present tense verbs.
> I had the pleasure of reading a book called, "Life in the Son", by
> Robert Shank. He proposed some points concerning present tense verbs
> taking an aorist type emeaning (snap shot past tense action), and aorist
> verbs taking the continual or repetitive meaning of the present tense.
> I have grave concerns for his audience as much of his theology appears
> to proofed by the exceptions to normal Koine Grammatical rule rather
> than well founded facts. This is just one of the suggestions he
> proposes. In my library is the N.T. Greek in Light of Historical
> Research by AT Robertson, and Smyth's Greek Grammmar published by
> Harvard. I dont see any such exceptions listed in the sections I looked
> at concerning these tenses.
> Is there anyone out there who may know of such a thing and provide some
> Scripture references and Linguistic Grammars which point to it. Also am
> I too much off the mark concerning this book by Robert Shank?
> Larry A. Hartman
> Defense Language Institute Alumnus

One might get the idea that Shank's thesis hangs on the idea that the aorist
has a linear or continual sense and the present a punctiliar. Actually, he
merely points out that the aorist simply presents the action as occurring at
one point without reference to whether or not the action was actually
continual, and he quotes Robertson, p. 832 to back this idea up (see Shank, p.
77). On page 833 Robertson provides John 2:20 as an example of an aorist that
is used for activity over a period of time: "It took 46 years to build (aorist
passive indicative) this temple..."

Robertson again (I am using him since you say you have his grammar) gives Mt.
5:22 (EGW DE LEGW) as an example of present indicatives representing single
actions rather than continual action (what Robertson calls the "aoristic
present"; see p. 866).

Actually, Shank almost always emphasizes the continual action of the present
tense and the point-action of the aorist (see his discussions on pp. 42, 64,
92, for example). I cannot agree that "much of his theology appears to proofed
by the exceptions to normal Koine Grammatical rule," because the VAST majority
of the time Shank most definitely presents the aorist as point and the present
as continual or durative.

Finally, let me say that while I may take exception to a few of Shank's
exegetical points, on the whole I do agree with his thesis. (I just thought I'd
throw that in.) However, I do not want to get into a discussion about his
theology -- that's not the purpose of this list; I tried to confine myself to
the Greek question. (If you like, we can discuss his ideas off-list.)

Marty Brownfield or

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