Re: Proffessor [sic] Blackwelder and participles

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Sat Mar 14 1998 - 15:45:04 EST

On Sat, 14 Mar 1998 10:55:06 -0800 "Dale M. Wheeler"


>With all due respect to Prof Blackwelder, I doubt very seriously that he
>would be able to find many (perhaps I should say "any") competent Greek
>grammarians to agree with him. Substantival Ptcs are just noun
>in general, as they are in the above examples you cite. There is no
>an "ongoingness" to the use of the Present Subst Ptc, than there is a
>"once-for-allness" to the Aorist Subst Ptc. The "tense" is chosen
>its appropriate to the type of action (Aktionsart) of the verb in
> "Hit" is a punctual and will normally take an Aorist (unless the writer
>trying to communicate repeated hitting); "Believe" is normally a Climax
>(action leading to a conclusion) for which either the Pres or Perf are
>natural. The same is true in general for the uses of the tenses in
>the other moods.

Dale, I read your post with great interest. You seem to be saying that
the tense of a verb is determined by the type of action communicated by
the verb itself. In other words, the Aktionsart comes from the meaning
of the verb, rather than from the tense. If this is so, could you refer
me to some reading on it? How would this account for the fact that the
same verb can be and is used is in almost all of the various tenses?

>If one were to follow this idea of the present = continuous always, one
>would create absolute nonsense of the text. The examples are legion,
>let me give you one from the context of the first example; John 3:31
>I seriously doubt that anyone would want to read or translate this
>verse as:
>The one who *continuously* comes from above is *continuously* above all
>things; the one who *continuously* is from the earth is *continuously*
>the earth and continuously speaks from the earth. The one who
>*continuously* comes from heaven is *continuously* above all things.
>The present tense in these cases does not mean *continuously*, whether
>its a participle or an indicative; otherwise Jesus would have to be
>*continously* coming from heaven in order to be the supreme ruler of
>the universe ("above all things").
>The present tense is chosen for ERCOMAI because the normal action of
>the verb is an "activity" (unbounded and durative, ala Fanning)...but
>doesn't mean that anytime anyone goes or comes that they must do it
> DOES stop at some point. PISTEUW, as a climax verb,
>normally refers to a (thought, feeling, etc.) process that leads to a
>decision to accept something as true or valid. hO PISTEUWN is simply
>someone who has made the decision, and is being characterized as a
>person who accepts as true/valid certain propositions.
>You can also see the same problem with the John 5:24 example listed
>above...if PISTEUWN must be "continuously", then the hearing *must* be
>as well, since this is a Granville-Sharp construction (one article with
>two sing, non-proper, personal nouns connected by KAI)...which would
>that NO ONE gets saved, since no one *continuously listens*.

As I understand it, the Aktionsart of the present tense is linear versus
punctiliar. That is, the kind of action being communicated by the use of
the present tense is viewed as on-going. This can be reflected in 8-10
different nuances (progressive, customary, historical, futuristic,
aoristic, conative, iterative, etc.), all of which retain the idea of
continued activity.

I was taught (at DTS; as you) that this Aktionsart holds throughout the
various moods (e.g., a present imperative = either continue doing
something, or do something continually). In an adverbial participle, of
course, the Aktionsart of the participle is taken more in line with the
action of the main verb. In substantival pariticiples, however, the
Aktionart seems to stand on its own.

hO PISTEUWN, for example, does seem to denote one who believes
customarily, habitually versus hO PISTEUSAS which does not denote the
same. It is interesting to note that the present participle is normally
what is used for salvation statements.

Paul Dixon

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