re: Fundamentally flawed

From: Richard Lindeman (
Date: Sat Mar 21 1998 - 10:58:15 EST

One of the powerful elements of context is people and the quirks of people
generally. Granted, this is probably one of the most tortuous elements of
context to attempt to deal with and much less master, but human nature is
also one of context's most powerful currents. We must try to deal with it.

One thing about people is we know that they are creatures of *habit*. That
is if they are like me. :-) When I am going to Concordia College in St.
Paul... I almost always follow the same route. There must be hundreds of
ways to get there. But I usually follow one of two routes that I am most
familiar with. I listen to the rush hour traffic reports on the way(another
context), and based on that I go in one or the other of the two routes I
normally follow.

Applying the perplexing context of people generally, I assume that the
writers of the NT were also creatures of habit. I am sometimes intrigued by
an author's choice of tense for instance. I would have chosen a different
tense within this context I say to myself. But then again I am not Paul or
James or Peter. I am myself.

So then, my suggestion is that tenses might often be chosen simply out of
habit of the author. It may not be the aspectual force of the tense itself
that we should be paying attention to but rather the context of the author
himself/herself. Why would a particular author get into the habit of
regularly using a particular verb in a particular tense? Well, maybe at
one point in his/her life the author became enamored with the a certain
aspectual quality of the speaking of this verb in a certain tense. But it
may not be aspect at the moment which commands the authors choice of tense.
It is habit. Again, it may not be the Aktionsart of the verb which is the
driving force in this particular instance. But rather it is simply the fact
that people are creatures of habit. And being creatures of habit we
sometimes travel down roads which really make no sense at all to outside

I need to be careful here in saying this. After all, personally I
subscribe to the divine inspiration of scriptures. But I also believe that
God chose to reveal his word and will through the foibles of people.


Rich Lindeman

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