Re: NUN+Aorist, NUN+imperfect

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Tue Oct 28 1997 - 18:05:33 EST

At 02:14 PM 10/28/97 -0800, Don Wilkins wrote:
>The question is
>whether Jesus is telling them simply to bring what they just caught (pulling
>the NUN a little into the past) or whether He means to make a point of the
>fish *now* being in their possession. The latter is certainly plausible and
>it is quite possible that in some contexts the aorist is used like a
>perfect, but why do so in this passage? The simpler solution is to stretch
>NUN a little into the past.

Well, I would argue that either approach is equally simple for this one
passage, since each explanation makes sense. However, if you look at ALL the
uses of NUN+Aorist, assuming that the combination has a similar meaning in
each case, then the "NUN+Aorist=Perfect (more or less)" approach works best.

We've discussed this in the past, of course, in posts like these:

Have to be careful with this one: Edgar rightly warns that NUN DE has a
different meaning, and wonders whether NUN in a purpose clause does not also
have a different meaning:

Obviously, it is only when NUN has the meaning "now" that it is relevant for
this kind of argumentation.

>I was only speaking in general terms, so your clarification is most helpful.
>Mari and I have discussed some of these issues at length, and I won't
>attempt to repeat any of that here. It is interesting, though, that if you
>are right about what her theory predicts, there is apparently a situation
>even within her system where the NUN is pulled into the past.

Yes. In Mari's theory, the imperfect is a true tense, and will ALWAYS "pull
the NUN into the past".
>Well, again you have put meat onto my brittle bones. I have not looked at
>Robertson lately, but I suspect that he used "punctiliar" more loosely than
>we do today. I was using it in the looser sense myself. Whether Aktionsart
>can be limited to lexical meaning and "aspect" is itself an accurate term (I
>think not), are questions I promised to refrain from.

Robertson actually uses the term quite strictly. As a result, he has come up
with the phrase "aoristic present" to describe punctiliar uses of the
present, as opposed to the "durative present", which is the normal, durative
usage. Robertson is right on the money as far as usage goes, but his theory
falls apart a little here: he argues that present tense is not really a
tense, but conveys Aktionsart, then argues also that the present tense can
convey either durative or punctiliar Aktionsart. So if it isn't really an
Aktionsart, and it isn't really a tense, what IS the present tense?
>>Strawman alert! Is there anybody here who would argue that? Stand up and be
>>counted! I certainly wouldn't argue that.
>No, you wouldn't, unless you advocated the aorist indicative has no inherent
>time element. You actually are adhering to the more conventional view of
>taking the aorist as perfective in light of NUN.

Ah, but there is a difference between saying it has no INHERENT time element
(i.e., one that can not be cancelled, in the sense of Grice) and saying that
it has no time element.

Jonathan Robie

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:35 EDT