Re: Aorist presents and imperial attire

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Thu Jun 26 1997 - 10:34:50 EDT

At 09:39 PM 5/25/97 -0700, Micheal Palmer wrote:
>POREUETAI does not represent 'linear action' if you think of a single act
>of someone 'going' in this context, but it does represent imperfective
>aspect when you take into account that the speaker (the centurion) is
>stating a general principle. 'This is the way it always is, I say go, and
>they go.' He is not thinking about when he started having this kind of
>authority, or when he will cease to have it. He is merely concerned with
>the state of affairs presently in force, and which will continue to be in
>force for an unspecified time into the future.

Aha! Thanks, that helps a lot.

>Again, I think you should be careful about identifying what Robertson is
>talking about as aspect. The categories that are being discussed by the
>aspect specialists are certainly related in some ways to what Robertson is
>talking about, but he was not discussing aspect.

True, but I'm trying to apply what Fanning and Olsen say to the examples
cited by Robertson and Smyth in order to see where they agree and disagree,
and to see whether the more modern treatments cover all the bases. It makes
my head hurt, but I'm learning in the process. For instance, I just learned
*why* I can't just equate linear action with imperfective aspect, even
though the two obviously have a lot of similarity.

>I don't think Luke 7:8 is a good example of what Fanning meant by the
>instantaneous present (though I don't have a copy of his book to check). If
>I remember his discussion correctly (and please correct me if I don't), he
>is referring to verbs whose lexical aspect (to use the term most widely
>accepted for the a word's own contribution, apart from the contribution of
>the grammatical inflection, to the aspectual sense of an expression), is
>inherently perfective. Take for example, the English verb 'hit' in 'Johnny
>is hitting his brother.' The grammatical form is imperfective, but the verb
>implies something done in an instant, so the only option for viewing it
>imperfectively is to see Johnny as administering multiple blows--not one
>very slow, drawn out blow.

Yes, you are right. Fanning doesn't discuss the use of the present in Luke 7:8.



Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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