Re: Aktionsart vs. Aspect

From: roland milanese (
Date: Fri May 16 1997 - 19:25:51 EDT


In response to your post:

>I should say first that in my comments on Fanning's interpretation I was
>not defending him and in fact would not take his approach; I was just
>explaining what I thought he meant.

Sorry Don, my mistake.

Moreover, you said:

>I don't think that the distinction you draw has much to do with the problem
>we encounter in Matt 4:11 and similar passages.

However this was my response to the comment in your previous post:

>> the grammatical features of "began" itself are insignificant>>

My point was to clarify that the grammatical features of BEGIN are
significant: if we are to use it in rendering the inceptive imperfect we
should choose the completive form "began."

You suggested that

>it is quite possible that Matt is merely using the imperfect aspect
>to describe the action and does not really mean for us to infer a
>"beginning" of action.

Well, if the angels came and then were ministering, it is implied that
they started ministering. But the beginning of this action should
certainly not be regarded as focal.

You observed that

>the point of using "began" is to avoid the logical contradiction of the
>angels' being in the process of ministering before they arrive.

Some would not understand such a logical contradiction; Samuel Green in
his Handbook to the Grammar of the GNT gives "angels came and were
ministering to him" (page 299).

I agree that

>most likely the only other option that could be used here is a simple past tense in Eng.

Thus the rendering "angels came and ministered to him," as in NKJV, or
NIV "angels came and attended him"
TEV "angels came and helped him"

Alternatively, I would consider rendering the aorist in Mt 4:11 as an
English past perfect "... and behold, angels *had come* and were
ministering to him."


Roland Milanese

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